San Francisco, Calif. - Executives from Ontario’s tech cities are promoting pixel-perfect business conditions for expanding digital media companies.
The C.D. Howe Institute, which studies social and economic policies, immodestly states that Canada’s international reputation as a destination for capital and investment is better than it has been for a generation.
“As a country Canada is firing on all cylinders,” says Blair Patacairk, senior director, investment, global marketing, for the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation (OCRI). “Canada’s federal corporate income tax rate will fall from 18 per cent in 2010 to 15 per cent by 2012—less than half of the top U.S. federal marginal corporate income tax rate, and the lowest in the G7. We have the world’s soundest banking system according to the World Economic Forum. And Canada has the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio and the lowest R&D costs in the G7, with a 12.9 per cent advantage over the U.S.”
“In Ontario’s collaboratively linked technology regions of Toronto, Ottawa, Waterloo Region, London, and Niagara, 22 universities and colleges are pumping out more than 18,000 graduates per year,” says a representative. Graduates come from 174 specialized digital media programs including 3D animation, film studies, advanced computer programming, math, and hardware engineering.
Ontario’s digital media tech talent bank has attracted international companies, such as Ubisoft, Electronic Arts, and Capcom Entertainment. Animation, special effects, and mobile apps talent from homegrown firms such as Starz Animation, XYZ RGB, Digital Extremes, Silicon Knights, and RIM also help create exciting cross-platform entertainment products. These products run on everything from gaming devices to smartphones to Internet tablets to personal computers and 3D cinema screens.
In addition to a deep talent pool and strong economy, targeted tax incentives helped the Ontario Technology Corridor push Canada past the UK last year as the world’s third largest centre for video-game development talent, trailing only Japan and the United States. Ontario’s Media Development Corporation (OMDC) is the central catalyst for the province’s cultural media cluster--to date the OMDC IDM Fund has contributed $7.7 million to support 76 projects with budgets totaling $32.7 million--and continues to offer the following incentives, including:
• Ontario Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit – refunds 35 to 40 percent of eligible production costs
• Ontario Computer Animation and Special Effects Tax Credit – refunds 20 per cent of labour costs
• OMDC Interactive Digital Media Fund – up to $150,000 in project production funding, up to a maximum of 50% of the project budget. So far in 2011, the OMDC has announced $2.0 million in funding support.