Innovation Cluster First Rural Organization to Offer Start-up Visa Program, Officially Becomes Designated Business Incubator by Federal Government

The Innovation Cluster is now among only 31 current other business incubators across Canada designated to offer the Start-up Visa Program. The Innovation Cluster is the first rural organization in Canada to offer the Start-up Visa Program, allowing immigrant entrepreneurs to build businesses in Canada that are innovative, can create jobs for Canadians and that can compete on a global scale. The organization will start officially accepting applications early 2021.

The Innovation Cluster, along with other Business Incubators, Venture Capital Funds and Angel Investor Groups have been designated to accept proposals by entrepreneurs with an innovative business idea. There is an extensive application process that can take anywhere from 12 to 16 months. If the business in question meets all of the eligibility criteria provided by the Government of Canada and the Innovation Cluster supports the proposal, a letter of support will be provided to go along with the applicant’s full Start-up Visa application. Other requirements include having a qualifying business, meeting the language requirements and enough money to settle. 

“This is a win for the region,” notes John Gillis, President of the Innovation Cluster. “The Innovation Cluster has been working for years to receive this game changing designation so that we can bring more innovation and high-tech job opportunities to Peterborough and the Kawarthas. We could not be more excited to begin rolling out the program.”

This program will bring many benefits to the region including bringing the best and brightest minds from around the world. It enables immigrant entrepreneurs to launch innovative companies that will create jobs locally and compete globally, provides entrepreneurs with valuable assistance in navigating the Canadian business landscape which can sometimes be challenging for newcomers and it will provide private sector firms with access to a broader range of entrepreneurs. 

The region is already known for its large immigration population including entrepreneurs, notably for the perfect location it provides between Toronto and Ottawa. In the Peterborough’s New Canadians Centre Annual General Report this year, 1,147 clients were served from 78 countries to date since 2018.

According to Forbes, there will be an increase of interest on programs like the Start-up Visa Program following the Covid-19 pandemic, as more people look to purchase locally while import and export options decrease.

There are many benefits of owning a business in a rural community when compared to locating in a large metropolitan area like Toronto or Ottawa including lower overhead expenses, financing is more accessible, lower cost of living and better quality of life overall. 

Designated organizations are able to customize their own eligibility requirements for accepting those out of the program. Key requirements for the Innovation Cluster include:

  • Ownership of a business that is generating revenue that is scalable, sustainable, and in one of Innovation Cluster’s four key sectors or have intellectual property behind the business. 

  • Applicant is willing to live and work in Peterborough and Kawartha Region in Ontario.

  • Applicant is willing to work/co-locate at the Innovation Cluster for the first year of operation in the province, and sign a one year Innovation Cluster service contract.

Those that are interested in applying can provide the Innovation Cluster with more information in order to be personally contacted when the program officially launches early 2021. For more information, visit: