The Startup Scene in Canada Is Strong — and Growing

Over the past decades, Canada has diligently cultivated a burgeoning startup culture with government-backed funding, incubators, tax incentives, and even special startup visas. Canada is considered the Silicon Valley of the north, and with its booming cities and excellent universities its efforts are paying off.

Startup Programs in Canada

Over the decades, Canada has developed numerous programs to encourage, support, and accelerate startup development.

Digital Media Zone

The DMZ was developed by Ryerson University and acts as both an incubator and accelerator for budding entrepreneurs.

MaRS Discovery District

This massive incubator in the heart of Toronto offers entrepreneurs training, mentorship, and space to start their company.

Industrial Research Assistance Program

This government-backed program offers would-be entrepreneurs the mentorship and funding they need to get their startup off the ground.

Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED)

The SR&ED was Canada’s shot across the bow, announcing its intention to get into the startup business. This tax incentive program passed in the 1990s encourages companies to increase research and development.


This program focuses on building Canada’s artificial intelligence (AI) industry through the use of mentorship, seed capital, and special AI-related tools.

Venture Capital Action Plan (VCAP)

To encourage more private investors, this government program funds $1 for every $2 of investment a participating startup earns in early round funding.


Founded in 1997, Communitech is an innovation centre based out of Waterloo that works with tech startups to encourage their growth and success.

Startup Canada

A grassroots network of entrepreneurs, Startup Canada brings entrepreneurs together to further the culture of entrepreneurship in Canada.

How the Canadian Government Helps Startups

The Canadian government helps up-and-coming startups with a variety of programs on both the national and local level. Over the past decade, it has developed tax incentives, loans, grants, wage subsidies, and even offered visas to qualifying immigrants who want to plant their startup on Canadian soil.
Tax Policy
A variety of local tax breaks, credits, and refunds incentivize the startup culture. Perhaps the most well-known is the Scientific Research and Experimental Development Tax Credit, which provides tax credits to businesses that engage in research and development.
If a startup meets certain standards, it could qualify for one of Canada’s many business grants. For example, the Applied Research and Development Grant offers up to $150,000 to a business willing to partner with an eligible Canadian college to work on new clean technologies.
Wage Subsidies
Canada may even help entrepreneurs pay for new employees: Many local programs will subsidize or even cover the hiring of students, recent college grads, or even apprentices.
The Canadian government offers dozens of different business loans, some interest-free, to help take one of the biggest challenges (finding money) out of the startup equation. These loans can be as small as the $3,000 Student Entrepreneurship interest-free loan to as large as $1 million for businesses in Ontario who need financing for new infrastructure projects.
Start-Up Visa
It’s possible to earn a visa in Canada if an entrepreneur plans to create a startup in the country. Candidates need to show they are serious by meeting strict requirements, but if they do, Canada welcomes them (and their startup gumption) with open arms.

Why Choose Canada for Your Startup

Canada offers a wide array of benefits to startups, including venture capitalists and vibrant cities.

For most tech startups, the road to success starts with the creation and launch of a robust app. Many of Canada’s best and brightest startups, including FunnelCake and, operate through apps. How does a startup on a shoestring budget develop a unique and dynamic app that can quickly scale up as its audience blossoms?

Cloud-based app building platforms, such as Heroku and from Salesforce, allow business owners to quickly and effectively build polished, scalable apps even if they don’t have extensive design and programming backgrounds.

Both Heroku and focus on moving startups from the idea stage to app launch, allowing owners to focus on implementing their ideas rather than burning through money and time (both in short supply for most startups) as they build the app. Salesforce also offers four unique APIs that can improve the functionality of a startup’s apps to create a more personalized customer experience.

Scaling with Technology

Every startup faces the same fundamental challenge: getting to market before resources dry up. Money is tight, talent is stretched thin, and competitors race furiously for their piece of the market. Even great ideas can flounder if a startup doesn’t rely on a strong backend that quickly scales as the product hits the market.

Salesforce isn’t just able to help Canadian entrepreneurs develop, launch, and manage their app. Its comprehensive, cloud-based platforms can help a startup run like a polished tech giant (even if it’s currently a two-person operation working fast and dreaming big out of a parent’s garage).

Sales Cloud is part of the world’s #1 CRM platform and caters directly to sales teams. When a business wants a powerhouse solution that allows it to organize, track, manage, and analyze sales and marketing operations, this is it. No other software lets a startup rapidly scale up to the big leagues in the same way as Sales Cloud.
SalesforceIQ ties together a salesperson’s phone, inbox, and customer relationship management (CRM) platform. With it a sales team is constantly connected and ready to build relationships with customers and close deals.
The AppExchange Partner Program gives Salesforce partners access to its sizable customer base. It is the global leader for business apps.
Salesforce offers marketing platforms that serve both B2C and B2B companies, and they enable marketing departments to work like a professional marketing agency… without the agency. Marketing Cloud and Pardot both work to automate a business’s entire marketing and lead nurturing process. No more haphazard campaigns, unproductive social media accounts, or hot prospects that threaten to fall through the cracks. They can help a busy entrepreneur turn into a marketing maestro.

Startup Resources

Every successful startup needs a boost, whether that comes from a mentor, venture capital, an incubator, a grant, loan, cultivation event, or all of the above. As Canada and its provinces continue to promote and carefully expand their startup culture, there are plenty of resources available for the savvy entrepreneur who knows where to look.

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