Surprising catalysts of COVID-19: How tech punched through the gloom

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The capital region’s strength in high-tech was now clear. Nearly all of the top tech firms here specialize in technologies the coronavirus has suddenly made essential.

Shopify, which develops technology that allows retailers to sell goods online, heads the list. It is expected to finish the year with US$2.9 billion in revenues, up 80 per cent from 2019. This year, the company opened a new R&D facility dedicated to fulfillment technology, necessary for getting packages into customers’ hands more quickly.

Amazon, which already operates a fulfillment warehouse in the east end and is building a second facility in Barrhaven, is projected to see revenues this year of US$380 billion — an increase of US$100 billion. When the new warehouse is operating, Amazon’s local workforce should top 1,500 — more than that of Shopify, which is headquartered here, although the pay scales are generally lower at Amazon.

Kinaxis, a Kanata pioneer, is also in the right place at the right time. It develops software for managing supply chains at many of the globe’s largest manufacturers. The technology is crucial for sorting out bottlenecks created by COVID-19.

The local tech industry’s largest employers — Ericsson, Nokia and Ciena, which collectively employ more than 5,000 people here — also find themselves in a sweet spot. They build the heavy duty networks that make Zoom calls, video games and streaming video possible. Even before the pandemic, these multinationals had been reporting rising sales thanks to the shift towards next-generation, 5G wireless networks. The coronavirus and work-from-home movement it triggered have reinforced the importance of electronic infrastructure.

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