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

Martha Casey

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 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 in 2019 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. 


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.

Nova Scotia Innovation Hub

Rod Badcock

The Innovation Hub’s mission is to encourage the growth of low-carbon industries -- which it refers to as the bioeconomy -- in Nova Scotia, especially in rural areas. It works with enterprises ranging from startups to large corporations.