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I Need Help Starting My Own Venture

There’s a strong network of organizations that help entrepreneurs who are at or near the idea stage of their venture. The right group for you may depend on where you live, your circumstances, and the type of business you’re building. Staff at these organizations are well versed in the ecosystem and can usually steer you in the direction of the organizations you need.

The federal government offers online assistance in finding programs through its Innovation Canada website. You can search for a program that suits you here. Also, The Halifax Partnership's Innovation District website has a search function for programs and facilities in Halifax and across Atlantic Canada. Check out the Resource Hub on its website. 

Most – if not all -- of the organizations listed in this Ecosystem Roadmap can give you practical advice on your idea. They may help you themselves, or they may connect you with people who can help you. If you’re a student, faculty or researcher at a post-secondary institution, seek out the entrepreneurship group at your school. If you’re outside the educational system, try your local startup hub. Or, if your idea fits into a sector such as oceantech or life sciences, reach out to a specific organization in your space.

One final word about launching your concept: all support groups will encourage you to contact potential customers to get meaningful feedback on your idea. The more knowledge you have about whether customers would pay for your idea, the better the response will be from startup organizations.

I Want to Move my Startup to Atlantic Canada

Whether you are currently based in another country, or in a part of Canada west of Gaspe Bay, you may be considering a move to Atlantic Canada. We hope this section will help you make the move and find the support you need to grow your business from a base in this region.

As you can see from the other pages in our Ecosystem Roadmap, Canada's East Coast offers a range of supports for high-growth innovators. You can grow your business in a beautiful location and a welcoming society. 

Click on the logo for more information on each organization.

Entrepreneurs hoping to move to Canada may choose to enter the country through the federal government's Startup Visa program. It requires that you be sponsored by a certified organization, including the following:

LaunchPad PEI

Overseen by Innovation PEI, LaunchPad is a business incubator in Charlottetown that helps provide space and mentorship for high-growth companies. It can serve as a sponsor for entrepreneurs who want to move to Prince Edward Island. 

New Brunswick Innovation Foundation

The New Brunswick innovation and venture capital group serves as a sponsor for Startup Visa applicants interested in moving to the province. 

Planet Hatch

Adam Peabody

The Fredericton entrepreneurship hub serves as a sponsor for Startup Visa applicants interested in moving to the New Brunswick capital. It combines an expedited visa process with three months of business acceleration inside the Planet Hatch incubation centre.

Innovacorp

The Nova Scotia venture capital agency has sponsored several foreign companies that moved to Nova Scotia. 

Genesis

The St. John's startup hub focuses actively on immigration within the startup community, and is a sponsor for the Startup Visa program. 

Business Attraction

You might also consider contacting the industry attraction teams at these provincial organizations. The business attraction divisions at these groups work to bring companies to their province, including high-growth innovation companies. 

Nova Scotia Business Inc. 

Opportunites New Brunswick

Newfoundland Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation

Innovation PEI

I Want To Learn About Corporate or Government Innovation

The startup ecosystem can help government and established companies innovate to improve productivity and efficiency. How? There are too many ways to name here. It could be through working with researchers at a post-secondary institution. It could be as an early adopter of a new product developed in Atlantic Canada. It could involve a corporation working with – possibly investing in – a startup.

Through much of Atlantic Canada, there is too wide a gulf between the established economy and the new wave of startups. It shouldn’t be that way. The startup community is notable for its openness. If you’re in a traditional industry or government, and you hear of a startup that interests you, reach out to them and arrange a coffee.

There is also a growing ecosystem for corporate innovation in the region. Whether it’s programs that help finance R&D, or working with corporate innovation outposts, there are a range of groups that can help bring innovation to established organizations.

Click on the logo for more information on each organization.

Springboard Atlantic

Daryl Genge

Springboard Atlantic is a non-profit organization that develops links between Atlantic Canadian academia and industry and supports companies that grow out of research conducted in the region. The pan-regional group works with 19 colleges and universities and has a network of executives to serve as a bridge between industry and academia. The group provides funding and mentorship to help develop businesses from academic research.

Volta Labs

Jesse Rodgers

One of Canada’s largest startup hubs, Volta occupies three floors of the Maritime Centre in downtown Halifax and serves as the anchor for Halifax’s innovation district. As well as being home to about 40 resident companies, Volta houses a corporate outpost in which companies and organizations station staff to develop new products and procedures in an environment condusive to innovation. 

Mitacs

Mitacs is a national organization that helps link researchers with corporations for R&D projects. It provides funding for projects — up to 55 percent of the project’s cost — and connects corporations with highly trained researchers.

New Brunswick Innovation Foundation

Jeff White

NBIF offers New Brunswick’s applied researchers funding for R&D through a number of programs; project support, research professional support, student support and social innovation research. With a total of $9.7 million invested last year in R&D, in collaboration with research institutions, industrial & private partners and academic institutions.

The Halifax Innovation District

Overseen by The Halifax Partnership

Miriam Zitner

An innovation district is a dense urban setting where innovative institutions and companies interact and the result is new ideas, products and companies. The economic development agency Halifax Partnership has taken on the task of developing the Halifax Innovation District, which stretches from the campuses of Dalhousie and St. Mary's Universities, through the Volta startup hub and across Halifax Harbour to COVE. Halifax-based corporations, government departments or NGOs interested in innovation can become involved through the Innovation District. 

ONSIDE

Alex McCann

ONSIDE is the Organization of Nova Scotia Innovation-Driven Entreprenership. It is a not-for-profit organization focused on working collaboratively with stakeholders and partners to galvanize a prosperous Nova Scotia through inclusive innovation-driven entrepreneurship. The group plans to use an evidence-based collective impact model first producted in the Stanford Innovation Review and modified by MIT that focuses on accelerating high growth entrepreneurship.

I Want to Learn About Angel Investing

As of 2019, angel investing is in a state of flux in Atlantic Canada. The First Angel Network, the long-standing angel group in the region, closed its doors in 2019 and there are various efforts to form new groups.

In angel investing, wealthy individuals make equity investments in young companies with the hopes of a big exit down the road. These should be “accredited investors” – typically considered someone with more than $1 million in financial assets and/or an annual income of more than $200,000.

The risks of angel investment are considerable, so it’s advisable to learn best practices. The National Angel Capital Organization offers a range of programs to educate new angels on the benefits and pitfalls of these investments

Click on the logo for more information on each organization.

The National Angel Capital Organization

Toronto-based NACO is the industry association for angel investor groups in Canada. In recent years, it has been active in Atlantic Canada, offering support to new angel organizations and providing educational programs. It has hosted several Atlantic Angel Summits to help bring together people interested in channeling more investment capital into growing companies.

Creative Destruction Lab – Atlantic

Jeff Larsen

CDL-Atlantic has established itself as the main angel funding group in Atlantic Canada, with its members investing about $7 million into 23 companies in two years. The CDL is primarily a mentorship group that assembles wealthy business people to mentor and invest in young innovation companies. It emphasizes deep technology in its portfolio companies and works closely with academic institutions.

East Valley Ventures

Gerry Pond

Founded in 2012, East Valley Ventures provides investment, mentorship and acceleration support to early-stage ICT companies in Atlantic Canada. The organization says its most important contribution is human capital.  Its six employees have in total more than 100 years of experience and a world-wide network to help navigate the complex startup world.

Island Capital Partners

Stefanie Corbett

Island Capital Partners launched in 2017 with the goal of making pre-seed investments in companies based on PEI. It has also become a pillar of the Island’s tech community, providing leadership and mentorship.

Atlantic Women’s Venture Fund

One of the coming boosts to the ecosystem is the Atlantic Women’s Venture Fund, which organizers hope will be a $20 million fund to invest in ventures led by women. The group spans all four provinces and hopes to launch in 2020.

Educational Institutions

Startup guru Brad Feld says the greatest contribution that post-secondary institutions make to a startup ecosystem is people -- bright, enthusiastic, highly educated people who can power innovation.  Colleges and universites across the region are channeling all this talent into new companies. Here are some of the educational groups that are nurturing young ventures. 

Click on the logo for more information on each organization.

Springboard Atlantic

Daryl Genge

Springboard employs a network of executives at colleges and universities around the region. Whereas it's best known as a bridge between industry and academic researchers, Springboard also supports startups generated by research at post-secondary institutions. The programs are varied and Springboard's executives are stationed at academic institutions across the region.  

Acadia Entrepreneurship Centre

Findlay MacRae

Specializing in rural entrepreneurship, the AEC offers incubation services to young businesses and strives to apply cutting-edge technology to agricultural and rural initiatives.  It works closely with the Acadia Institute for Big Data, which has launched several projects involving the wine and agricultural industries, and Launchbox, the Acadia University sandbox.

Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship

Florian Villaumé

The MCE supports aspiring entrepreneurs at Memorial University, providing foundational training, guidance, access to funding and connections to create high-growth businesses. Programming includes a workshop series, mentorship, entrepreneurial work terms and pre-seed funding like the Mel Woodward Cup. MCE is also a partner in Bounce Health Innovation, which generates medical tech companies.

Saint Mary’s University

Masters of Technology Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Ellen Farrell

Launched in 2013, MTEI is an accelerated graduate program aimed specifically at people who want to develop their own company or lead innovative divisions of existing corporations. The 16-month course focuses on lean methodology and provides seed funding for students’ projects.

SMU Entrepreneurship Centre

Michael Sanderson

Founded almost two decades ago, the SMU Entrepreneurship Centre helps students learn about entrepreneurship and start their own businesses, and provides support to a range of entrepreneurs and businesses outside the university. It works with students from all faculties, not just the Sobey School of Business. It has particular strength in social entrepreneurship.

Dalhousie University

Jeff Larsen

Accounting for 42 percent of the research spending by Atlantic Canadian universities, Dalhousie is involved in a range of startup programs, including overseeing the Creative Destruction Lab-Atlantic. Its LaunchDal initiative offers entrepreneurship courses for credit and a summer accelerator that includes development funding. Dal also oversees the IdeaLab for hardware companies, located on its Sexton campus. 

University of New Brunswick

Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship

 Dhirendra Shukla

TME emphasizes the role of engineering and design within the development of a product. Its broad range of programming includes: a Masters of TME program; Energia Ventures, which offers programming for energy, cleantech and cybersecurity companies; and the Summer Institute, which teaches the human elements of entrepreneurship. 

Synapse

Justin Moores

Synapse is an independent company that helps transfer the research conducted at the University of Prince Edward Island into products, processes, and services and insights for use beyond the university. These can be used as the bases for new companies or other initiatives.

 

The Nova Scotia Sandboxes

Nova Scotia has a “sandbox” program, which is a series of groups within universities that aim to spark interest in entrepreneurship. These programs serve as tentacles into the community, educating researchers and students about programs and drawing them into entrepreneurship. If you're attending a college or university in Nova Scotia, click on the logo to find the sandbox that fits your situation. 

Local Startup Hubs

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of local startup hubs in the Atlantic Canadian ecosystem. Often referred to as “startup houses” or “business accelerators and incubators” (BAIs), these organizations serve an array of functions in their city or town. Above all, each is a central place where people can meet and where entrepreneurs can find answers to their questions. Most of these organizations also offer programming, pitching events, even funding.  

Click on the logo for more information on each organization.

Volta Labs

Halifax

Jesse Rodgers

One of Canada’s largest startup hubs, Volta occupies three floors of the Maritime Centre in downtown Halifax and serves as the anchor for Halifax’s innovation District. Volta had almost 40 resident companies as of June 2019, and 40 alumni companies, as well as a hive of corporate innovation outposts. About 500 people work in the complex.

Genesis

St. John’s

Michelle Simms

The oldest startup organization in the region, Genesis offers a range of programs from its headquarters at MUN’s Signal Hill Campus and new co-working space on Harvey Road. Its Evolution program aids early-stage companies and its Enterprise program helps scaling startups. It also offers a Women in Entrepreneurship program.

Planet Hatch

Fredericton

Director Adam Peabody

Planet Hatch is an entrepreneurship centre located in Fredericton. The centre offers co-working and event facilities, programming, funding, business counselling, and events. 

Venn Innovation

Moncton

Doug Robertson

Venn Innovation is New Brunswick’s innovation hub and its Venn Garage incubator supports early-stage tech startups across the province. Located in Moncton, Venn develops business acumen by helping entrepreneurs test and validate their ideas, acquire customers and funding, and prepare for successful growth.

Startup Zone

Charlottetown

Patrick Farrar

Supported by Innovation PEI and various community groups, the Startup Zone is a 3,600-square-foot facility in Charlottetown that opened in July 2016. It has enough space for about 16 companies and is a work zone for tech and innovation startups as well as other entrepreneurial pursuits.

LaunchPad PEI

Charlottetown

Overseen by Innovation PEI, LaunchPad is a business incubator in Charlottetown that helps provide space and mentorship for high-growth companies. It offers office space and support services in a downtown location. 

ConnexionWorks

Saint John

The co-working space on Germain Street opened in 2014. It offers space for small companies and hosts regular events. The organization behind it works closely with Economic Development Greater Saint John and other community groups.

Ignite Labs

Yarmouth and Stellarton, N.S.

Doug Jones

Ignite Labs opened in Yarmouth in June 2018, to provide an entrepreneurship hub on Nova Scotia’s South Shore and southern districts. The facility offers mentorship and working space to companies in a range of sectors and offers specialization in ocean technology. More recently, it has added a location for northern Nova Scotia in Stellarton.

Navigate Startup House

Sydney

Navigate opened in late 2015 as a base for the growing tech community in the second-largest metro area in Nova Scotia. It offers co-working space, offices and a range of mentoring sessions.  It also features one of the best-equipped makerspaces in the region.

Emera IdeaHub

Halifax

Margaret Palmeter

Located on Dalhousie University’s Sexton Campus, the ideaHUB is an incubator and maker-space that provides work-space and programming for companies making physical products. As well as office space, its resident companies have access to a range of technical expertise and equipment.

SMU Entrepreneurship Centre

Halifax

Michael Sanderson

Best known for supporting student initiatives at Saint Mary's University, the SMU Entrepreneurship Centre also helps Atlantic Canadian businesses to grow with a range of programs. These programs include funding to hire students or people who are under-represented in the workplace or assistance in such areas as business design or market research.

Startup Canada

Startup Canada is a national organization that supports communities of entrepreneurs across Canada with programming, events and awards. Its website lists at least nine local organizations in Atlantic Canada. Startup Canada is best known for its annual Startup Canada Awards. The organization has merged with the annual Ernest Manning Innovation Awards to form a new organization called Innovators and Entrepreneurs Foundation.

The Halifax Innovation District

Overseen by The Halifax Partnership

Miriam Zitner

An innovation district is a dense urban setting where innovative institutions and companies interact and the result is new ideas, products and companies. The economic development agency Halifax Partnership has taken on the task of developing the Halifax Innovation District, which stretches from the campuses of Dalhousie and St. Mary's Universities, through the Volta startup hub and across Halifax Harbour to COVE. 

The Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development

Halifax

Craig MacMullin

Operating from its facility on Bayers Road in Halifax, CEED helps Nova Scotian entrepreneurs by offering financing to start and/or expand a small business, an array of workshops and the 40-week Self Employment Benefits Program. It also offers the Youth Employability Project, engaging youth in interactive workshops that explore leadership, critical thinking and problem-solving.

 

CO3

Bridgewater, NS

Nicole Knickle-Hatt 

Operated by the WorkEvolved group, CO3 is a shared workspace for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers. People can use space ‘by-the-hour’, a few days a week or full-time. 

The Hub

Mahone Bay, NS

Nicole Knickle-Hatt 

Operated by the WorkEvolved group, The Hub is a shared workspace for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and remote workers. People can use space ‘by-the-hour’, a few days a week or full-time. 

Accelerators and Incubators

Atlantic Canada offers a range of instructional programs, most with their own areas of specialization. These include groups focused on sectors, like Propel for IT and EmerGence for life sciences. Some cater to companies with specific characteristics, like the Pond-Deshpande Centre's B4 Change accelerator for social ventures. Some are virtual while others meet in fixed spots. Some offer courses for fixed periods of time while others are more open-ended. The best idea is to click on the logo to check out their websites and see if a particular program is right for your company. 

Click on the logo for more information on each organization.

Propel

Barry Bisson

The regional organization offers a virtual accelerator called Incite for early-stage tech companies.  Incite comprises two phases. Phase 1 helps companies validate their problem-solution fit. Phase 2 helps companies build a repeatable sales engine. Propel also has entrepreneurs-in-residence across the region and hosts an annual sales conference called Amplify.

EmerGence

EmerGence is an incubator focused on life sciences businesses in the food, nutraceutical and pharma segments. Its portfolio companies include several based in Atlantic Canada, in other parts of Canada, and in other countries. It provides mentorship and programming, and offers specialist services projects, in which it will fund as much as 65 percent of the cost of bringing in specialists.

The Joint Economic Development Initiative

 Penny Polchies 

The Joint Economic Development Initiative provides economic development programs to support Indigenous entrepreneurs and communities. These include: the JEDI Aboriginal Development Fund;  JEDI Indigenous Business Incubator Program; JEDI Indigenous Business Accelerator Program; business advisory services; and links with partners

Mashup Lab

Andrew Button

Mashup Lab offers in-person and online curricula to help entrepreneurs in rural areas. The group offers Mashup Weekends to let budding entrepreneurs in rural areas come together to create a business in a weekend. And its Dream Business program offers online programming to help entrepreneurs launch new businesses in six months.

Pond-Deshpande Centre

Karina LeBlanc

Working out of the University of New Brunswick, the Pond-Deshpande Centre encourages innovation and entrepreneurship, with a special emphasis on social entrepreneurship. Its best-known program is the B4 Change Social Venture Accelerator. PDC is part of an international network of entrepreneurship centres founded or co-founded by entrepreneur Gururaj Deshpande.

Volta LEAP

Toon Nagtegaal

Volta LEAP is a pre-accelerator funnel that helps prepare Atlantic Canadian companies for major accelerators, such as the Creative Destruction Lab, Techstars and Y Combinator. The program is led by Toon Nagtegaal, a former VC executive. 

Creative Destruction Lab-Atlantic

Jeff Larsen

Affiliated with Dalhousie University, CDL-Atlantic is primarily an accelerator program in which successful business people mentor and invest in startups. The program requires the startups to reach a series of benchmarks through the nine-month program, and those that fall short are asked to leave.

Energia Ventures

Joe Allen

Fredericton-based Energia offers a 13-week program for companies involved in energy, smart grid, cleantech and cybersecurity sectors. Energia, which works with companies in Atlantic Canada and around the world, prepares startups for rapid revenue growth in these sectors. Ideal companies have previously raised funds and have a market-tested product.

Planet Hatch Startup Accelerator

Adam Peabody

Fredericton-based Planet Hatch offers six acceleration programs for different stages of the startup lifecycle: Startup Accelerator, Sales Accelerator, Export Igniter, Management Accelerator, Start-up Visa and Business Immigrant Essentials. 

Canadian Technology Accelerators

Global Affairs Canada runs a network of accelerators in major markets, where companies with a product can set up shop for an extended period to work with world-leading mentors and be close to customers. The Canadian Technology Accelerators are now offered in a range of cities around the world, including San Francisco/Silicon Valley, New York, Singapore and Tokyo. 

Innovacorp

Nova Scotia's venture capital agency offers both incubators and accelerators. It hosts both general and sector-specific accelerators each year, including its Sprint and Accelerate programs. And Innovacorp also hosts incubation facilities, such as the Bays at Innovacorp in Dartmouth and the Labs at Innovacorp in Halifax. 

The Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development

Craig MacMullin

CEED helps Nova Scotian entrepreneurs by offering financing to start and/or expand a small business, an array of workshops and the 40-week Self Employment Benefits Program. It also offers the Youth Employability Project, engaging youth in interactive workshops that explore leadership, critical thinking and problem-solving.

Genesis

As well as providing office and co-working space, the St. John's innovation hub has programming for innovation companies. For early-stage startups, there is the Evolution program, an intensive eight-week, pre-incubation accelerator. At the next level, Genesis offers scaling companies the flagship Enterprise program, which includes office space and mentorship over a three-year period. 

The Summer Institute

Joe Allen

The Fredericton-based Summer Institute is an accelerator that emphasizes the human elements – such as design – of building a business.  It focuses on companies that will make excellent businesses, but not necessarily candidates for venture capital. Its strength is companies making physical products though tech companies are accepted.

Venn Garage

Doug Robertson

A non-cohort-based program, Venn Garage helps New Brunswickers to validate startup ideas, acquire early customers and gain initial funding. This Moncton-based program aims to prepare startup teams for leading accelerators.

Life Sciences Organizations

To a large extent, the support for bioscience startups comes from provincial organizations in each of the Atlantic Provinces. As well as support from these provincial groups, EmerGence is an incubator that has clients throughout Atlantic Canada and outside the region, and Natural Products Canada is based on P.E.I. but works with clients across the country. Among these groups, there are a wide range of supports for entrepreneurs involved in life sciences, biotech, medtech and related fields. 

Click on the logo for more information on each organization.

PEI BioAlliance

Rory Francis

The Prince Edward Island BioAlliance is a private sector-led organization that oversees growth strategy for the province’s bioscience cluster. Since 2005, the not-for-profit has coordinated businesses, academic and research institutions, and government agencies in establishing the bioscience sector as an economic pillar in the province and Atlantic Canada.

EmerGence

EmerGence is a business incubator focused on life sciences businesses in the food, nutraceutical and pharma segments. Its portfolio companies include several based in Atlantic Canada, in other parts of Canada, and in other countries. It provides mentorship and programming, and offers Specialist Services Projects, in which it will fund as much as 65 percent of the cost of bringing in specialists to help a company with a specific project.

Natural Products Canada

Shelley R. King/Stephen Ball

Headquartered in Charlottetown, NPC supports Canada’s natural product innovators, including businesses, research institutes, investors, and others who work with products and technologies derived from natural substances. NPC offers commercialization programs, connections and scouting services and an investment fund.

BioNova

Scott Moffitt

BioNova leads the development of Nova Scotia’s health and life sciences sector. The organization champions the sector’s research facilities, incubator programs, and companies. It also hosts BioPort Atlantic, the region’s largest health and life sciences event.

BioNB

Jennifer O’Donnell

BioNB is a non-profit corporation that builds and enhances new and existing businesses in New Brunswick’s bioeconomy. BioNB is adept at translating science into business and exploring technologies that will innovate traditional industries. They work with government, researchers and companies to enhance collaboration and advance commercialization opportunities in the biosciences.

Bounce Health Innovation

Andrew Smith

St. John's-based Bounce Health Innovation is a partnership among many groups dedicated to identifying problems in healthcare delivery and developing technology to address those problems. Working with the Eastern Health Authority, the Bounce team supports the creation of new companies in Newfoundland and Labrador’s growing healthcare innovation sector.

OceanTech Organizations

Atlantic Canada is establishing itself as a global hub for innovation in ocean-related industries. This has sparked a growing number of oceantech startup launches, and several support organizations focusing mainly on the young sector. Here are a few support organizations in the field.

Click on the logo for more information on each organization.

Canada’s Ocean Supercluster

Kendra MacDonald

The Ocean Supercluster is an Atlantic Canadian partnership between the federal government, private companies and academic institutions that aims to fund technological advancement in the marine sciences and engineering. One of five innovation superclusters in Canada, it expects to create ocean-related R&D projects worth more than $350 million over five years.

Creative Destruction Lab – Atlantic

Jeff Larsen

CDL-Atlantic has offered programming for oceantech companies since it was launched in 2017, and now has a special channel for ocean innovation companies. The CDL is primarily a mentorship group that assembles wealthy business people to mentor and invest in young innovation companies during a six-month program.

 

Start-Up Yard at COVE

Shelley Hessian

Located at the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship on the Dartmouth waterfront and managed by Innovacorp, Start-Up Yard is an incubation facility for early-stage oceantech ventures. It offers acceleration programs and funding, incubation space and services, shared equipment, harbour access for testing products, and mentoring.

Investment Groups

Atlantic Canada has a range of groups providing early-stage equity investment, whether they are angel groups, venture capital funds, or a hybrid of the two. There is now at least one early stage investment group operating in each Atlantic Province. The regional seed-stage investor, Build Ventures, announced the initial close of its second fund in late 2019. The investment community will continue to evolve in coming years with the launch of such groups as the Atlantic Women's Venture Fund. 

Click on the logo for more information on each organization.

Build Ventures

Rob Barbara/Patrick Keefe

Backed by five governments and private limited partners, Build Ventures invests in scaling companies, usually in tranches of $1.5 million to $3 million. In the fall of 2019, Build announced its second fund with an initial commitment of $50.5 million.

Creative Destruction Lab – Atlantic

Jeff Larsen/Louis Beaubien

CDL-Atlantic has established itself as the main angel funding group in Atlantic Canada, with its members investing about $7 million into 23 companies in two years. The CDL is primarily a mentorship group that assembles wealthy business people to mentor and invest in young innovation companies. It emphasizes deep technology in its portfolio companies and works closely with academic institutions.

East Valley Ventures

Gerry Pond

Founded in 2012, East Valley Ventures provides investment, mentorship and acceleration support to early-stage ICT companies in Atlantic Canada. The organization says its most important contribution is human capital.  Its six employees have in total more than 100 years of experience and a world-wide network to help navigate the complex startup world.

Innovacorp

Andrew Ray

Nova Scotia’s public early stage venture capital agency provides a range of equity and non-dilutive funding alternatives for startups. In the 2018-19 fiscal year, it made seven investments in the $350,000 to $2 million range, and made 10 investments of about $100,000 each in “emerging” companies.

Volta Cohort

Jesse Rodgers

Volta in 2017 launched the Volta Cohort, a pre-seed funding program that as of May 2019 had provided more than $500,000 to 21 companies. The companies, from across Atlantic Canada, each received a $25,000 investment. The initial funding for the program has all been invested, and Volta and its partners are now reviewing how to continue to fund startups.

Concrete Ventures

Patrick Hankinson

Concrete Ventures, which has more than $17 million to invest, offers investments from $100,000 to $750,000 to pre-seed companies. It is backed by the Nova Scotia government and private investors, and has a mandate to invest in companies based in Nova Scotia and other parts of Atlantic Canada.

New Brunswick Innovation Foundation

Raymond Fitzpatrick

NBIF is a not-for-profit organization that makes pre-seed and seed equity investments committing roughly $6.2 million a year. The organization hosts its biennial business plan competition Breakthru, which is designed to encourage the creation and development of innovative business ventures in New Brunswick.

Opportunities New Brunswick

Stephen Lund

The New Brunswick government’s economic development agency offers two sidecar funds, which invest in companies based in the province that have landed investment from approved funding groups. Its Seed program offers funding of up to $500,000 per company and the Series A program offers up to $1 million.

Killick Capital

Mark Dobbin

Managing the holdings of the Dobbin family of St. John’s, Killick Capital invests in early stage companies, and is especially active in backing companies based in Newfoundland and Labrador. In the past few years, it has co-invested frequently with the Venture NL fund.

The Venture NL Fund

Managed by Pelorus Venture Capital

Chris Moyer

Backed by provincial and federal governments and private investors, Venture NL makes pre-seed and seed investments in high-growth companies based in Newfoundland and Labrador. Its first fund’s investment period will end in 2020 and its managers are now raising a second fund.

Natural Products Canada

Shelley King

NPC invests in early stage Canadian companies that are developing products or services derived from natural sources. NPC also helps companies connect with its network to prepare for and identify suitable investors and strategic partners.

Island Capital Partners

Stefanie Corbett

Island Capital Partners launched in 2017 with the goal of making pre-seed investments in companies based in PEI. It has also become a pillar of the Island’s tech community, providing leadership and mentorship.

Venture Grade Student Investment Fund

The Venture Grade Student Investment Fund is an evergreen venture capital fund managed by students at Saint Mary’s University.  So far, they have raised more than $200,000 for the fund and have invested (or are poised to invest) $80,000 in four high-growth startups.

Non-Dilutive Funding

Several organizations across the region offer companies financial support that will not dilute their equity investors. This non-dilutive financing takes the form mainly of loans or grants. We've listed here the main providers of non-dilutive financing in the region. There are also smaller programs so it's worth talking to advisers for recommendations on what other programs might be sutiable for your company. 

Click on the logo for more information on each organization.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

ACOA offers several funding alternatives to entrepreneurs through loans and non-repayable support. The Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI) program is a national program administered in Atlantic Canada by ACOA. It provides loans and grants to innovative companies. And Productivity and Business Skills Initiative, which is a sub-program of REGI, provides grants of up to $50,000 to hire key personnel.

Springboard Atlantic

Springboard employs a network of executives at colleges and universities around the region. Whereas it's best known as a bridge between industry and academic researchers, Springboard also supports startups generated by research at post-secondary institutions. This sometimes includes financial support.  

Industrial Research Assistance Program

Overseen by the National Research Council, IRAP offers research grants to startups and other groups across Canada. It is one of the main sources of non-dilutive funding for startups, including those that don’t yet have investment or revenues. An under-rated facet of its work is the mentorship offered by its officers.

Business Development Bank of Canada

BDC, the federal government’s business bank, supports business clients throughout the country, and is a financial institution that offers loans to scaling high-growth companies. The bank also has programs for specific groups, such as female entrepreneurs.

Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED)

SR&ED is a Canadian government progam that rewards companies of any size for conducting research and development. Canadian-controlled private corporations can earn SR&ED tax credits for 35 percent of eligible expenditures up to the first $2 million. Above that, companies can receive credits of 20 percent. 

Innovacorp

Innovacorp offers several financing programs, usually targeting specific sectors or stages of development. For example, Innovacorp’s Accelerate Program targets deep technology startups approaching investment readiness. Its Sprint competition provides $25,000 and business guidance to startups with a customer-validated product.

Nova Scotia Business Inc.

NSBI’s programs for businesses include its Export Growth Program, which offsets the costs of travel to develop markets outside Atlantic Canada. Its Productivity and Innovation Voucher Program helps established and pre-revenue companies to fund research at post-secondary institutions. 

The Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development

Craig MacMullin

The Nova Scotia entrepreneurship training group offers CEED Impact loans to help small and medium-sized businesses. Low-interest loans of up to $25,000 are available, with flexible repayment terms and no penalty for early repayment of the principal.

Natural Products Canada

A pan-Canadian institution based on P.E.I., NPC offers a range of supports for businesses that make goods or technology from natural substances. Among a range of services, NPC provides non-dilutive funds through such programs as its Proof of Concept Program, Executive Talent Program and Go To Market Program.

LearnSphere

LearnSphere helps companies across Atlantic Canada with their growth through training and funding. It offers an export development program that helps SMEs and startups increase their sales in foreign markets.

Futurepreneur

Futurepreneur’s mission is to support young entrepreneurs – those aged 18 to 39. Its services include loans of up to $60,000.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada

SDTC is a foundation created by the federal government to support Canadian cleantech companies. It provides loans, often in the millions of dollars, to scaling companies. 

Energia Ventures

Energia is an accelerator program for companies involved in energy, smart grid, or cybersecurity. The roughly half-dozen companies accepted into the program receive $20,000 in non-dilutive funds, and have an opportunity for equity investment from the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation.

New Brunswick Innovation Foundation

NBIF offers New Brunswick’s applied researchers funding for R&D through a number of programs; project support, research professional support, student support and social innovation research. It committed a total of $9.7 million to R&D last year, in collaboration with research institutions, industrial and private partners and academic institutions.

Planet Hatch’s Programs

Fredericton-based Planet Hatch offers two funding mechanisms for entrepreneurs and early-stage startups. The Impact Loan provides up to $25,000 in low-interest funding. The Seed Grant Fund provides up to $25,000 in non-repayable grant funding. 

Memorial University's Mel Woodward Cup

The Woodward Cup offers prize money to the best student-led companies at Memorial University. In 2018, the MCE awarded a total of $35,000 to five teams through the competition. The Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship, which oversees the competition, has signaled it will increase the prize packages in 2019.

Genesis Micro Fund

Early in 2019, St. John's-based Genesis initiated a $775,000 micro fund that will provide initial financing to about 38 companies over the next three years. The fund provides grants of up to $20,000 to each company.

InnovateNL

Overseen by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation

InnovateNL is a one-stop organziation that provides the innovation programs and services offered by the Goverenment of Newfoundland and Labrador. The group was formed in 2017 to oversee a range of programs, such as the Research & Development Corporation, bringing together a combined budget of about $40 million a year.

Innovation PEI's Ignition Fund

The Ignition Fund is a competitively based innovation fund for entrepreneurs seeking startup capital for a new business. Innovation PEI provides grants of up to $25,000 to help successful applicants to turn their ideas into tangible, viable businesses. 

ICT Organizations

The region’s information technology groups tend to have a mandate to support the broad digital economy, which includes nurturing growing IT companies. They all have a mission to increase the pool of IT talent in the region.

Click on the logo for more information on each organization.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology and Innovation

Paul Preston

NATI supports digital industries in Newfoundland and Labrador, and is especially interested in backing technology companies headquartered in the province. It offers a range of programs to support these businesses, including its flagship Export Program. It undertakes several initiatives with partners, including the Bounce Health initiative, which encourages the development of technology to improve healthcare.

Digital Nova Scotia

Ulrike Bahr-Gedalia

Digital Nova Scotia is the industry association for Nova Scotia’s ICT and digital technologies sector. Its members range from startups and SMEs to multinational corporations, universities and colleges, government, and non-profits. It supports the ICT industry through skills development, capacity building, events, partnerships and the promotion of opportunities.

TechImpact

Cathy Simpson

TechImpact aims to promote technology as a means of building a vibrant Atlantic Canadian economy. Founded in 2009, its membership includes CEOs and regional leaders from the largest technology companies and CIOs from the largest IT consumers of technology in the region.

Venn Innovation

Doug Robertson

Venn Innovation is New Brunswick’s innovation hub and its Venn Garage incubator supports early-stage tech startups across the province. Located in Moncton, Venn develops business acumen by helping entrepreneurs test and validate their ideas, acquire customers and funding, and prepare for successful growth.

Shiftkey Labs

Akram Al-Otumi

ShiftKey Labs is one of nine “sandboxes” sponsored by the Nova Scotia government. These are collaborative projects involving groups of post-secondary institutions, which aim to encourage entrepreneurship in certain fields. ShiftKey – which is a joint project between Dalhousie, St. Mary’s, and Mount St. Vincent universities and the Nova Scotia Community College – targets digital technologies as the focus of its work.

Sales Training

The greatest evolution in the startup ecosystem in recent years has been the proliferation of sales programs. Though there are a lot of programs that help entrepreneurs figure out their product market fit, it is the sales programs that help startups grow into corporations. Here are the leading programs that teach founders to develop repeatable sales strategies. 

Click on the logo for more information on each organization.

Propel Incite Phase 2

Barry Bisson

Incite is Propel’s virtual accelerator for early-stage tech startups across the region, and Phase 2 is a program of up to nine months that focuses on building a repeatable sales engine. It is customized and adapted to fit each individual company’s needs.

Scale Up Atlantic Canada

Dhirendra Shukla

The Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship program at University of New Brunswick teamed up with the “Scalerator” program at Babson College in Boston to offer sales training for scaling companies. Babson, perennially ranked as the leading U.S. college for entrepreneurship, developed a sales process designed for companies with multi-million-dollar revenues.

The MBA program at UNBSJ

Shelley Rinehart

The University of New Brunswick Saint John in 2018 began offering a 12-month MBA course with a stream in “Business Development and Professional Sales”, making it the first English-language university in Canada with a sales program. The program teaches sales development, drawing from experts within the community to help students learn sales processes.

Scale-Up Hub: Cambridge

Lisa Dobson

Nova Scotia Business Inc. and ACOA offer this 12-month program to help scaling companies develop a strong customer base in New England. The accepted companies spend at least a week per month in Cambridge, Ma., meeting with customers and attending programs in the Boston-area ecosystem. 

Ignite Fredericton’s Export Program and Sales Accelerator Program

Adam Peabody

Fredericton-based Planet Hatch offers the Sales Accelerator Program, a six-week program that helps entrepreneurs develop their sales pipeline and learn the skills to 'close the deal'. As well as sales training, participants receive up to $25,000 in funding, and a post-secondary student intern.