The private sector and government have worked long and hard together to develop a media and entertainment industry in Toronto. Today we have world-class creative talent, first-class studio facilities, TIFF, extensive post-production services and competitive tax advantages, which together have earned us the unoriginal nickname of Hollywood North.
Now the potential exists to achieve similar success with the Indian media and entertainment industry, equally uninspiringly named Bollywood, and establish ourselves as the leading North American partner. Beginning Friday, a trade mission from Ontario will spend 10 days in India making new contacts and exploring how to make Ontario a more active player in the Indian industry.
The potential is enormous, since India’s entertainment industry is massive and growing. According to 2010 figures provided by PwC, the Indian film industry is projected to grow at an annual rate of 12.4 per cent, reaching $10 billion by 2014. The Indian television industry — moving from analogue to digital — will grow 12.9 per cent from 2010 to 2014, and is expected to reach $8 billion in 2014. Critical mass combined with Toronto’s credibility in digital media makes for interesting potential for trade. We could make advanced Bollywood movies in Toronto for sale worldwide.
Movie screens and television are just one part of the picture. Of particular interest to me is the often-overlooked mobile gaming industry. These are the games played on mobile devices, such as Angry Birds or Fruit Ninja. Games represent the biggest part of the applications built for use on smartphones. As can be seen from watching those around us, the app economy is huge and growing fast. In North America, the dollar value of apps is bigger than the recorded music industry. By 2014 the app economy will be larger than the movie industry and will be closing in on the video game industry itself.
Around the world, the popularity of games on iOS and Android is soaring. In India, it is the most dynamic part of the media sector and is expected to grow at a cumulative rate of 30 per cent over the next five years. By 2014 India’s smartphone market will also be larger than the entire U.S. population. The opportunities in mobile entertainment are enormous. We can customize games for the Indian market, and add our production and programming expertise to games content.
Toronto is ideally suited to offer the technical expertise and creative services necessary to grow our already substantial portion of the market.
World-class organizations — Disney, Google, Microsoft, Facebook — have long recruited personnel from innovation hubs such as Waterloo and Toronto. When Bill Gates last visited Ontario in February 2008, he noted in a speech that the University of Waterloo is consistently one of the top three universities for producing engineers hired by his company.
Hiring by these giant U.S.-based companies resulted in a steady brain drain of Canada’s best to the U.S. But increasingly, students and graduates are no longer rushing south of the border. The jobs are coming to them. With a strong dollar, Toronto’s reputation as a world-class multicultural city, and Canada’s rising international prestige, we are retaining more talent in this country than ever.
We also have unique programs that make it easy for employers to hire great talent. Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo have cooperative work programs between employers and students, while TriOS, OCAD and Sheridan Art have internship programs. It’s not well known but the University of Toronto’s R&D budget is the third largest in North America, behind Stanford and MIT. These programs give students relevant and real-life work experience.
Various art and design schools in the GTA attract companies such as Disney that practically set up shop on campus. Ryerson’s Digital Media Zone, the Perimeter Institute and the University of Toronto’s Human Computer Interface Lab are attracting PhD talent from all over the world. It is these research centres of excellence that are driving fundamental education and innovation across Canada.
Local startups are increasingly the biggest beneficiary of the academic talent in the GTA. BumpTop, recently bought by Google for its innovative software that transforms your computer home screen into a more lifelike experience, emerged from the University of Toronto. XMG Studio had hundreds of applicants in the last University of Waterloo co-op term for only a couple of positions, while Xtreme Labs is second only to RIM in co-op hires, roughly double from the same time last year. Both XMG and Xtreme Labs are heavily populated with grads from the GTA and Waterloo who would otherwise have gone to the United States.
In June 2011, Ontario hosted the International Indian Film Academy Awards in Toronto. The event was highly successful in terms of generating media interest, attracting tourists and heightening the visibility of Ontario. It also brought together key leaders from India and Ontario.
The stage is set for Hollywood North to meet Bollywood. I sure hope we don’t call it Bollynorth.