A photograph of a birds-eye view of Vancouver's skyline with the sun setting in the horizon

7 Reasons Vancouver is a Leading City for Doing Business

Over the years, several studies have named Vancouver among the best places in the world to do business.

From Oberlo to Startup Genome to KPMG International, researchers consistently rank Vancouver as a global leader when it comes to business competitiveness due to its strong economy, robust technology and digital entertainment ecosystems, financial competitiveness and ideal geographic positioning.

Despite the economic shifts and headwinds that continue to impact cities around the world, Vancouver remains a top global city for doing business. Here are seven reasons why.

Vancouver is an economic powerhouse

Vancouver boasts the fastest-growing and most diverse metropolitan economy in Canada – one that has proven resilient even in the face of the pandemic and its economic aftershocks. The city’s economic foundation rests on diverse competitive sectors, including (but not limited to) technology, film and television, digital entertainment, and the green economy.

Tech companies in Vancouver were responsible for commercializing the world’s first quantum computer (D-Wave) and the fastest-growing business app of all time (Slack). Local VFX studios have developed and produced the world’s top-grossing films (think Star Wars and Deadpool) and top-selling video games (including FIFA 12 and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon). And the city is globally ranked among the world’s top startup ecosystems (#30 in 2023), leading North America in tech job growth rate in 2022. What’s our secret? A willingness to take calculated risks with an eye towards reshaping the world where we live, work and play.

Vancouver offers an unparalleled quality of life

Snow-capped mountains, sprawling ocean and lush rainforests have elevated Vancouver to one of the most desirable destinations to live and work in North America. In addition to a spectacular backdrop, the city offers universal healthcare, diversity in culture and entertainment, and world-class education and infrastructure. From sandy beaches and oceanside trails to Michelin-starred restaurants and world-class cultural offerings, Vancouver is a powerful lure for talent seeking the ultimate work-life balance – and, in turn, an attractive competitive advantage for businesses seeking to relocate here.

Vancouver has a thriving tech ecosystem

From startups to industry giants, Vancouver is a top choice for tech companies – and it’s easy to see why. The tech sector spans information and communications technology, cleantech, software development and engineering services and life sciences, along with one of the world’s top animation hubs. Tech jobs make up seven percent of total jobs in Vancouver, with three of the world’s top 10 tech companies by market capitalization (Microsoft, Amazon and Samsung) having a significant presence here. Global digital entertainment giants that call Vancouver home include Netflix, Sony Pictures Imageworks, DNEG, Nintendo and Industrial Light & Magic.

Photo: A woman wearing a VR headset in an office, reflecting a thriving technology ecosystem in Vancouver
Photo: A female lab technician examining a petri dish, reflecting a thriving technology ecosystem in Vancouver

But it’s not just massive companies that gravitate to Vancouver. As one of the world’s top startup ecosystems, Vancouver is home to well over 1,000 tech startups and multiple unicorn companies, including Visier, AbCellera and Trulioo. With such a vast array of tech talent here, the city is full of networking and career opportunities.

Vancouver offers a sustainable, low-cost advantage

After crunching the numbers, it’s clear that Vancouver provides the most sustainable, low-cost advantage when it comes to business operating costs. Competitive office space and affordable wages for quality talent contribute to significant cost savings for businesses looking to set up shop in the city. As a comparison, locating a 100-person office in Vancouver over 10 years saves $67 million over setting up the same office in San Francisco; $50 million over setting up in New York; and $45 million over setting up in Seattle.

Chart: Labour and Office Space Costs cost comparison across major North American cities, including Vancouver.
Chart: A map of North America where certain cities, highlighting total labour, lease, and operation costs.

Vancouver is a City of Reconciliation

he City of Vancouver declared itself a City of Reconciliation in 2014, and in October 2022, City Council formally committed to a United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) Strategy. Vancouver is the first city in Canada to do either, and this demonstrates its values of truth and reconciliation with the Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh – the First Peoples who stewarded the land and waters since time immemorial – and with other Indigenous communities living in the region.

Businesses and investors with a strong alignment to ESG (environmental, social and governance) principles will find fertile ground to grow their enterprises and relationships.

Vancouver is proudly multicultural

From a purely geographic perspective, its award-winning international airport, world-class port, and service by major rails make it a global nexus for commerce and visitors alike. This enviable position has reinforced Vancouver as one of Canada’s most globally connected and multicultural cities, benefitting from forward-thinking immigration policies and a diverse and multicultural workforce.

Today, an estimated 170 languages are spoken in the region, and more than a third of Vancouver residents speak a language other than English when at home. This goes beyond linguistic or corporate: the culinary, performing and visual arts scenes are equally rich.

Vancouver-based businesses can access robust financial supports

Thanks to a myriad of provincial and federal government opportunities, businesses relocating to Vancouver could qualify for certain financial supports to ease costs. InBC invests in potential high-growth firms, with an emphasis on small- and medium-sized businesses; Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada while matching funding; and NRC Industrial Research Assistant Program helps businesses develop, adopt and adapt technologies so they can be commercialized in the global marketplace. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – businesses that want to relocate to Vancouver could be eligible for plenty of support when it comes to immigration, finding talent, and setting up shop.

Ready to consider Vancouver as a new home for your business?

Contact the Vancouver Economic Commission and Invest Vancouver about business relocation support today.