Waterloo has a strong knowledge- and service-based economy with significant insurance and high-tech sectors as well as two universities. The city's largest employers are Sun Life Financial, the University of Waterloo, Manulife Financial, BlackBerry, Sandvine and Wilfrid Laurier University.
The city is also home to three well known think tanks – the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, an advanced centre for the study of foundational, theoretical physics and award-winning educational outreach in science; the Institute for Quantum Computing, based at the University of Waterloo, which carries out innovative research in computer, engineering, mathematical and physical sciences; and the Centre for International Governance Innovation, an independent, nonpartisan think tank that addresses international governance challenges.
The city is part of Canada's Technology Triangle (CTT), a joint economic development initiative of Waterloo, Kitchener, Cambridge and the Region of Waterloo that markets the region internationally. Despite its name, CTT does not focus exclusively on promoting technology industries, but on all aspects of economic development.
Waterloo has a strong technology sector with hundreds of high-tech firms. The dominant technology company in the city is BlackBerry, makers of the BlackBerry, which has its headquarters in the city and owns several office buildings near the University of Waterloo's main campus.
Notable Waterloo-based high-tech companies include:Dalsa Descartes Systems Group Maplesoft MKS Inc. Open Text Corporation BlackBerry Sandvine
Many other high-tech companies, with headquarters elsewhere, take advantage of the concentration of high-tech employees in the Waterloo area, and have research and development centres there. Sybase, Google, Oracle, Intel, McAfee, NCR Corporation, Electronic Arts and Agfa are among the large, international technology companies with development offices in Waterloo.
Before it became known for technology, Waterloo was sometimes referred to as "the Hartford of Canada" because of the many insurance companies based in the area. Manulife, Sun Life Financial, Equitable Life of Canada and Economical Insurance have a significant presence in the city.
Breweries and distilleries had been a significant industry in the Waterloo area until 1993 when a Labatt-owned brewery was shut down. Now the only major brewery is the Brick Brewing Company. Waterloo was the original home of distiller Seagram (also home town of many descendants of J.P. Seagram), which closed its Waterloo plant in 1992. Of the remaining Seagram buildings, one became home of the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), while others were converted into condominiums.Largest employers in the city of Waterloo BlackBerry (9,500 employees) Manulife Financial (3,800 employees) University of Waterloo (3,500 employees) Sun Life Financial (3,300 employees) Open Text (1,500 employees)) Wilfrid Laurier University (1,047 employees))