Get Thee to the Accelerator: 2017 Edition
In recent years, Canada’s innovation landscape has grown to rival that of our southern neighbour. There are many reasons for this, including Canada’s highly skilled and highly educated workforce, relatively low corporate tax rate and strong academic institutions, and a market of venture capitalists that are willing to make investments. This confluence of forces creates a strong backdrop for entrepreneurialism and innovation.
Ontario is the most populous province in Canada and is one of the country’s central economic nodes. It has benefited greatly from the burgeoning entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem.
Our experience is that at a macro level, growth begets growth. As the Ontario region has created winning conditions for companies like Shopify, Hootsuite Media, and KiK, more and more startups are entering the scene. To support these startups, a strong community of business incubators and accelerators has emerged across Ontario. Aird & Berlis LLP has put together a list of select incubators and accelerators that you might find useful.
We are confident that this list of business incubators and accelerators located in Ontario will help you find the resources you need – whether you have a great idea and don’t know what comes next, or you are well on your way to becoming Canada’s next unicorn/narwhal.
Toronto Region Incubators and Accelerators
The Accelerator Centre with locations in Waterloo, Kitchener and Stratford, provides an array of programs and services for entrepreneurs. Their program seeks to turn ideas into solid business foundations, and to subsequently grow and scale that business. The Accelerator Center also provides a seed funding program which offers up to $30,000, and Visa programs to help entrepreneurs bring their business to Canada.
DCSIL at U of T is an accelerator founded by entrepreneurs from the computer science department. DCSIL seeks to assist entrepreneurs to bring academic and research skills to innovate through software invention and commercialization. DCSIL holds two accelerator cohort sessions each year.
CleanTech North seeks to provide emerging Canadian clean technology companies with the mentorship and support required to enter into and succeed in the global marketplace.
At Creative Destruction Lab experienced entrepreneurs provide guidance on how to most effectively allocate scarce resources to maximize chance of venture success. Access to early-stage investors may also be available.
Communitech is a not-for-profit organization located in Kitchener aimed at helping tech companies start, grow & succeed. Whether you are starting or growing your tech business, Communitech can provide coaching and mentoring, talent, capital, professional development opportunities and connections.
The DMZ at Ryerson helps startups succeed by connecting them with customers, advisors, influencers, and each-other. Startups accepted to the DMZ enjoy two months of free co-working space and services (after which they can pay a membership fee to stay on).
Driven Accelerator aims to make resources and opportunities available to underrepresented groups in business by promoting equal opportunity access to resources, providing direct access to start-up capital, promoting mentorship/networking, and collaborating with other start-up resources.
Built by Extreme Venture Partners, a venture capital fund, this accelerator offers packages of startup services.
ICUBE is the business accelerator at the Institute for Management & Innovation, University of Toronto Mississauga. ICUBE offers students and community youthearly-stage business development and commercialization services including an entrepreneurial curriculum, mentorship and business advisory services and collaborative space.
Innovation Guelph runs a series of business acceleration programs designed for high-potential startups and small to medium-sized enterprises that are ready to scale. Innovation Guelph serves entrepreneurs across Southern Ontario.
Haltech is located in Burlington and helps technology ventures in the Halton Region transform good ideas into viable business ventures. Haltech provides technology startups with mentorship, entrepreneurship workshops, access to private funding, and grant programs.
HIGHLINE is an intense, founder-driven experience backed by major VCs, including BDC Capital and Relay Ventures. It focuses Pre-Seed and Seed stage tech companies that have typically shipped a MVP and is now working toward product/market fit. Led by digital product entrepreneurs, it gives founders an edge for the lifetime of their venture through its exclusive method, platform, and community.
Humber Centre for Entrepreneurship has a mandate to promote and foster the entrepreneurial spirit among Humber College and University of Guelph-Humber students and alumni. It offers experiential learning opportunities that include interactive workshops, networking events, and startup competitions.
IBM Innovation Space provides startups with access to the IBM ‘Bluemix’ developer platform, ‘Softlayer’ cloud services and IBM Watson 'cognitive thinking' APIs. IBM Innovation Space also offers mentorship opportunities and educational programming.
The Impact Centre’s Techno program is an entrepreneurship training program for science and engineering students and recent graduates seeking to create high-impact technology-based startups. Techno provides business skill training to help transform science and technology ideas into marketable products.
INcubes offers several incubation programs. The Funnel program is the early-stage program for entrepreneurs that is designed around core product and business deliverables. The Acceleration Program is a highly-focused, hands-on, intensive program designed to help companies engage customers and investors early and effectively.
Innovation Factory is a non-profit Regional Innovation Centre located in Hamilton. Innovation Factory helps startups commercialize through workshops, mentoring, and access to funding.
JLABS serves early-stage companies advancing pharmaceutical, medical device, consumer and digital health programs. JLABS Toronto location offers lab space, equipment, and access to scientific, industry and capital funding experts. The space also features JLABS' ‘inaugural device and digital prototype’ lab that provides entrepreneurs with access to specialized tools and programs to design and develop smart health technologies.
JOLT AT MARS
At JOLT, a wide range of tools, resources and immersive experiences are provided to help move your thinking and company forward to the next stage of success. JOLT attracts investors and helps entrepreneurs to raise capital.
Launch 180 focuses on helping startups achieve first revenue within 180 days while reducing costs in their initial start-up phase. Launch 180 encourages startups to minimize initial costs and timelines by putting core growth assumptions to the test as quickly as possible.
MaRS Innovation is a non-profit that acts on behalf of its members – 15 of Toronto’s universities, institutions and research institutes. MI staff works with investors and founders to bring discoveries to market through industry partnerships, licensing or startup companies.
To join the MaRS Start program, companies are expected to have a minimum viable product and are testing their business model in the market. Companies will gain access to various workshops, market intelligence, service providers and expert advice.
To join the MaRS Growth program, companies are expected to already have market traction and be in a position to expand – nationally or globally. Companies will gain access to potential investors, customers, partners, talent and more.
As the Entrepreneur and Innovation Hub for Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, the RIC Centre offers a comprehensive range of support services to entrepreneurs for free, including mentorship and advisory services, hands-on workshops and networking events. Using the expertise of RICC's Entrepreneurs in Residence, RICC clients receive unparalleled professional guidance every step of the way.
RFI is a "Founders First" accelerator program that selects and assembles technology based startups, accelerating their go to market success with real customers, real investors, and actionable guidance. RFI partners with clients to deliver innovative, market changing solutions and invests in high trajectory startups.
Ryerson has created numerous industry specific accelerator “Zones”, including the Digital Media Zone (DMZ), Design Fabrication Zone, Biomedical Zone, iBoost Zone, Clean Energy Zone, Legal Innovation Zone, Science Discovery Zone, Socialventures Zone and Transmedia Zone.
The Entrepreneurship Hatchery seeks to turn ideas into successful startups. Teams accepted to the Entrepreneurship Hatchery receive one-on-one mentorship, summer fellowships, space and access to a prototype fund. Teams may also be eligible for legal, accounting, marketing and intellectual property support.
The Forge offers free office space in a co-working environment to youth entrepreneurs in Hamilton. The Forge provides startups with access to mentorship, maker-space, and training workshops.
The Next 36 is a non-profit charity that is helping to fast-track the development of Canada's most talented young innovators. For seven months, 36 young entrepreneurs are mentored by Canada's top business leaders, taught by some of the world's top business faculty, and work to earn funding from top venture capitalists.
TBDC is an independent non-profit, non-government organization dedicated to nurturing the growth of new and emerging businesses. TBDC provides advisory support to young student entrepreneurs, individuals currently receiving social assistance, and persons with disabilities.
The TFI is an award-winning and highly-acclaimed non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and nurturing Canadian fashion designers and entrepreneurs. TFI plays an essential role in the growth and promotion of the Canadian fashion community by helping creative entrepreneurs to develop the business and professional skills they need to thrive and survive.
TFBI is a non-profit organization that assists entrepreneurs in establishing and growing food processing companies. TFBI assists new and emerging food processing business with the goal of supporting entrepreneurship and job creation in the food manufacturing industry.
UTEST accepts companies in the earliest stages of idea generation —before they're ready for traditional incubators — and awards each company up to $50,000 in start-up funds. It provides companies with start-up funding, mentoring, business strategy and office space at the Banting Building at the University of Toronto St. George Campus.
VentureLAB is a non-profit region innovation centre that has been cultivating, supporting and celebrating entrepreneurs in York Region, Simcoe County, and the Muskoka District since 2011. VentureLAB applies a unique combination of mentoring, partnering, and connecting to help pioneering entrepreneurs turn their great ideas into globally competitive businesses.
WaterTAP is a non-profit organization that aims to accelerate the growth and prosperity of Ontario’s water sector. WaterTAP's direct assistance program provides short term expertise to help companies in the water sector overcome challenges. WaterTAP also connects water sector companies with funding opportunities.
YEDI is a rigorous entrepreneurship institute that is free to attend and grants formal York University certification upon graduation. It offers an exclusive opportunity to pitch your venture to investors and receive up to $500,000 in funding from the institute's very own venture capital fund.
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