The Start-up Visa Program

The Innovation Cluster is one of only 31 designated business incubators in Canada approved to invest in or support possible start-ups through the Start-up Visa Program.

Known for its close proximity to lakes and nature while bolstering an active business and technology community, it is no wonder innovative companies are interested in relocating to Peterborough and the Kawarthas. With only a short commute to Toronto, and Ottawa, Ontario, this region allows for entrepreneurs and their staff to take advantage of an excellent quality of life while continuing to remain connected.

We have the business advantage that you have been looking for. With a great network of experienced entrepreneurs and a thriving technology sector, Peterborough and the Kawarthas has the perfect combination of world-class educational institutions, private equity and government programs.

The Start-up Visa Program comes with many benefits including enabling immigrant entrepreneurs to launch innovative companies that will create jobs in the region while competing on a global scale. When participating in programming by a designated incubator, entrepreneurs are provided with valuable assistance in navigating the Canadian business environment which can often be challenging for newcomers. Not to mention, it brings some of the best and brightest minds from around the world providing private sector firms with access to a broader range of entrepreneurs.

Now is the time to be a start-up here! Want to learn more about Peterborough and the Kawarthas? Check out the video below.

Choose Peterborough, Ontario

The National Angel Capital Organization (NACO) is the Government of Canada's partner that makes recommendations for angel investor groups and business incubators. The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship designates organizations based on these recommendations.
The Innovation Cluster was recently appointed as a Designated Entity and we are privileged to be a member of NACO in good standing. As Canada's only national platform for both angel investors and the innovation hubs that support Canada's entrepreneurs, NACO's membership includes 4200 angel investors, 44 angel groups, and 45 of Canada's most prominent incubators and accelerators. Over the past decade, NACO members have invested more than $1 billion into more than 1500 Canadian companies.
The Innovation Cluster as a NACO (National Angel Capital Organization) member, 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 for the Start-up Visa program.

Canada’s Start-up Visa Program allows entrepreneurs to immigrate to Canada by starting a business and creating jobs, or supporting innovative entrepreneurs.

Designated entities, such as the Innovation Cluster are permitted to work collaboratively with Immigrant Entrepreneurs that have an innovative business idea.

If the Innovation Cluster chooses to support the proposal, a letter of support will be provided to go along with your full Start-up Visa application.

As stated by the Government of Canada, to be eligible for the Start-up Visa Program, you must:

  • Have an Innovative Business 
  • Receive a letter of support from a designated organization
  • Meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5
  • Have sufficient funds for settlement (as determined on the website)

Visit their page for a full breakdown of requirements.

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. The current business or business idea must be based in any of the following categories or sectors (*Please note: You are considered 'tech' if your primary business objective is to develop and distribute custom built technology, excluding re-distribution/consultancy):
    - Agriculture technology
    - Clean technology
    - Healthcare
    - Digital technology (ICT, SaaS, video game development, digital solutions and more)
    - Intellectual Property (IP) based business
    - New Innovation
  • Interested in introducing new and innovative solutions to current business problems, practices or products.
  • A driven, coachable and collaborative founder/team.
  • Able to work with the Innovation Cluster virtually and participate in all programming for the duration of the 3 month accelerator program and 12 month residency.
  • Applicant is willing to live and work in Peterborough and Kawartha Region in Ontario.
  • Applicant is willing to sign contract for 3-month virtual accelerator program.
  • If accepted for a Start-up Visa after completing the accelerator program, applicant is willing to work/co-locate at the Innovation Cluster for the first 12 months of operation in the province, and sign a one year Innovation Cluster service contract.*
* The Innovation Cluster is following Canadian health guidelines and protocols for Covid-19 and will continue to adjust programming on an on-going basis.

Upon completing the application process and being accepted into the program, there will be costs associated with entering the Start-up Visa Program. Below indicates some of costs associated with joining the Innovation Cluster Start-up Visa Program.

Mandatory 3-month virtual accelerator program (Step 1) at CAD$3,000.00 per month.

When finished the accelerator program, the Innovation Cluster may provide a letter of support towards the participant's visa application. The Innovation Cluster will then provide a contract detailing the 12-month residency as an Innovation Cluster client (Step 2). Details of the residency will be discussed following the 3-month virtual accelerator.*

* There may be individual costs associated with the residency and different options within the incubation program which can be discussed with Innovation Cluster staff.

The picture above represents the complete catchment area the Innovation Cluster provides support in. While we provide our incubation programming to entrepreneurs, we also have a wide range of partnerships that specialize in other areas, creating a strong ecosystem of innovation and collaboration for local entrepreneurs.

Other resources Innovation Cluster clients can take advantage of in the region for connections, funding, partnerships and more:





Operations & Events Manager

Alana leads Innovation Cluster day-to-day operations, event planning, community outreach, internal and external event planning, and financials for the organization.

Have a question?

Tel: (705) 536-1101 ext. 907


To see if you may be eligible for the Start-up Visa program, visit the Government of Canada's website.

Designated organizations are business groups that are approved to invest in or support possible start-ups through the Start-up Visa Program.

Organizations choose which business proposals to review. Each organization has its own intake process for proposals and criteria used to assess them. For example, you may be asked to present your business concept in person or submit a detailed business plan. Read more.

To learn more about what we have to offer clients, please visit our Incubator page.

Our main, 24/7 incubator is located in the heart of downtown Peterborough on the third floor of the VentureNorth Building. Learn more.

Our second 24/7 incubator launched in 2020 to support startups throughout Kawartha Lakes. It is located in the City of Kawartha Lakes building in the heart of Lindsay. Learn more.

As a third location, startups have access to the Trent Makerspace in the university’s DNA Building, a world-class lab facility for clean-tech companies to produce, test and commercialize IP based biotechnology products. Learn more.

**The Innovation Cluster follows travel policies and restrictions as stated on the Government of Canada website. Please visit for current updates.**

The Innovation Cluster does not provide funding, however we provide connections to funding opportunities.

Those that apply in January 2021 will hear back within a month of applying for the first 2021 cohort. If you have applied past January 2021, your application will stay on file until a new cohort launch is announced.