By: Darren Lum
Starting a business for yourself is a long process, however there are many free resources for startups, funding programs and government grants, mentorship programs and business entrepreneurship hubs specifically within Canada and Ontario to help guide you through the process and get to market. Small businesses are key for the Canadian economy; employing 55% of the workforce and making up 98% of employer businesses. The RIC Centre is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to help technology entrepreneurs in the Greater Toronto Area, especially Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon by providing free services. If you live further away – not to worry, below is a list of all the Regional Innovation Centres in Ontario covering most major areas. Below is a list of government programs and services for startups.
Regional Innovation Centres:
Within Ontario, there are 17 Regional Innovation Centres (see below for links and locations) whose sole purpose is to support, mentor and guide technology entrepreneurs through the commercialization process from any stage.
- RIC Centre (Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon)
- MaRS (Toronto)
- Communitech (Waterloo)
- Innovation Factory (Hamilton)
- Invest Ottawa (Ottawa)
- Venture Labs (York Region)
- WE-tech (Windsor)
- Innovation (Guelph)
- HalTech Innovation Centre (Halton)
- TechAlliance (London)
- Spark Centre (Durham)
- Innovate Niagara (Niagara)
- Launch Lab (Kingston)
- NORCAT/Innovation Mill (Sudbury)
- SSMIC (Sault St. Marie)
- NWOIC (Thunder Bay)
- IION (North Bay)
Entrepreneurship 101 online course
MaRS has coordinated Canada’s largest live and online entrepreneurship course (and it’s free!). The course is 1 hour long, every Wednesday from 6pm-7pm. For the entire schedule, see the MaRS website. If you don’t want to watch it alone online and can’t make it downtown, many educational institutions such as Humber College and University of Toronto Mississauga stream it live with a facilitator so that you can ask questions and network with other entrepreneurs.
Small Business Enterprise Centres
If you’re starting your business without a technology, there are also over 50 Small Business Enterprise Centres across Ontario that also offer free advice, programs and events for starting your business. A full list of the Entrepreneur Centres’ locations and contact information is available online.
Funding Portal – Government Funding
The Funding Portal is a comprehensive service that improves access and awareness to both government funding and capital markets for key industry sectors in Canada. The portal aggregates information on more than 7,000 sources of funding. RIC Centre has a quick search widget to search what funding programs are available.
Ontario Centres of Excellence
The Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) helps drive the development of Ontario’s economy with multiple funding programs for entrepreneurs, supporting research and academia through industry-academic collaborations, and other special initiatives such as SOSCIP (Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform).
Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Incentive Program (SR&ED)
The Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Program is a federal tax incentive program, administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), that encourages Canadian businesses of all sizes, and in all sectors to conduct research and development (R&D) in Canada. It is the largest single source of federal government support for industrial R&D.
The SR&ED Program gives claimants cash refunds and / or tax credits for their expenditures on eligible R&D work done in Canada.
Want to meet other entrepreneurs?
Startup Reactor is an entrepreneurial community that meets monthly in the downtown Mississauga sector. They are focused on startup growth, technology and community. Check out some of their meetups and network with other local entrepreneurs!
For other information and resources, check out another RIC Centre blog: Using Government Grants To Finance Your Start-up