Ontario Startup Ecosystem Overview

Ecosystem Landscape:

Ontario is the thriving home of Ottawa, Canada’s capital and its largest city: Toronto. These cities alone attest for a very vibrant startup ecosystem and a large pool of talent, however a great traction has been registered in Kingston, Hamilton and Kitchener-Waterloo. With an emphasis on female entrepreneurship and support for international entrepreneurs, the region is slowly becoming a large yet interconnected network of cities full of entrepreneurial talent.

white and red concrete building near green trees during daytime

Ontario has the advantage of being the most populous province of Canada, accounting for 38.8% of its population. As the biggest provincial economy in Canada, Ontario is contributing 38.6% to the Canadian GDP (as of April 1, 2021). In Ontario we can find Canada’s largest labor force: a highly-educated pool of talent concentrated in services industries.

The Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor is the second largest technology cluster in North America. More than 15,000 technology companies employ over 200,000 people along the 100 km Toronto-Waterloo Region Corridor. In addition to being Canada’s main economic hub, Ontario is hosting some of the most reputed universities globally, such as the University of Toronto and the University of Waterloo. Waterloo’s tech cluster makes it one of the top regions for tech talent in North America. The Ontario government supports startups and small businesses through various schemes such as Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), Ontario Resilience Fund, and hiring, training and research grants. Toronto is home to accelerators and incubators supporting startups across various sectors, from software and biotech to design and music.

brown high-rise buildings near park

Toronto is one of the world’s most multicultural cities, with more than 180 languages spoken by diverse communities which call Toronto home. Toronto is known for its art and culture activities: an industry that contributes more than $11.3 billion to the economy annually. The region is well-connected with roadways and railways acting as a gateway to the U.S. market. Smaller cities in Ontario like Oshawa, Waterloo and London are some of the fastest-growing cities in Canada.

Top accelerators and Incubators:

  • Communitech: An innovation hub that supports more than 1,600 companies, from startups to scale-ups and large, global players.
  • Creative Destruction Lab (CDL): A nonprofit organization that delivers an objectives-based program for massively scalable, seed-stage, science- and technology-based companies. The program was launched in 2012 at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
  • MaRS: A nonprofit that supports high-growth startups and scale-ups tackling key issues in health, cleantech, fintech and other sectors. MaRS supports more than 1,400 Canadian science and tech companies, which have collectively raised $6.3B in capital since 2008.
  • Accelerator Center (AC): Startup accelerator based in Waterloo that has worked with over 650 startups. OneEleven: Toronto-based startup accelerator that typically helps seed-funded startups grow and raise more capital.
  • DMZ: Incubator backed by Ryerson University. Since 2010, DMZ has supported 671 startups, which have raised $1.55 billion in seed funding. The DMZ is ranked the #1 university-based tech incubator globally by UBI Global.

Top tech and startup events:

  • SecTor: Canada’s premier IT Security Education Conference. The annual event where IT Security professionals gather to learn from and network with the world’s most innovative, intellectual, exciting and entertaining security professionals. Toronto Tech Summit: Online event that showcases the future and the changing nature of work, transportation, travel and Web 3.0.
  • MaRS Climate Impact: The online event brings together the cleantech and social-finance communities.
  • Elevate Technology Festival: One of the largest tech innovation conferences in the world. The most recent edition saw 30,000 guests and 350 speakers including former first lady Michelle Obama; Martha Stewart; Commander Chris Hadfield; VP Al Gore; former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
Main Strengths of the Startup Ecosystem
    • A high number of government support programs for entrepreneurs and startups;

    • Huge potential for research and development for startups in the HealthTech and FoodTech industries;

    • Creative industries and the high-tech sector produce a strong synergy effect for the birth of new ideas;

    • Access to the biggest technology and manufacturing companies in the world that have a presence in the region;

    • Startup-friendly immigration policies;

    • World-class transport, infrastructure and good connectivity within the region;

    • High quality of life with cities being ranked as the best cities in the world to live in;

    • Gateway to the North American market;

Ecosystem Milestones

Interested in the Ontario Startup Ecosystem?

Leave your details below and we will get in touch with you on the benefits of relocating and/or investing in Ontario