Regional Innovation Centres In Ontario: What They Are & How They Help Ontario Small Businesses

Regional Innovation Centres(RICs) are organizations that provide tech businesses with support and financial incentives. There are 17 such organizations in Ontario and their goal is to help small businesses set up the systems they need to be successful.

That includes administrative and organizational and organizational guidance, information on marketing and other ways to attract customers, a clear understanding of proper customer service and help finding the loans and grants they needs to put the infrastructure and resources in place to help their small business grow.

Regional Innovation Centres in Ontario


Waterloo, Ontario based Communitech is a public-private innovation hub committed to making the region a global leader in technological innovation. 

Communitech currently works with over 1,400 small tech companies at all stages of development providing businesses guidance and help finding funding, talented staff, new markets, the latest technologies and hands-on support. 

Communitech helps tech companies get started, grow and succeed by connecting them to a network of experienced entrepreneurs and innovators and providing them with training and education through their Communitech Academy.

HalTech Innovation Centre

This RIC tailors innovation services and technologies to provide the support small tech companies need at any stage of their development. 

Their goal is to use a structured approach to help companies quickly and easily move through key developmental milestones by giving them access to the exact services they need at the most opportune time. Some of the services HalTech Innovation Centre offers through their facilities in Burlington and Milton, Ontario include:

a. Comprehensive Business Advice.
b. Educational Seminars And Workshops.
c. Product Development Support
d. Investment Information And Guidance
e. Funding Opportunities
f. Business Promotion And Pitch Exhibitions
g. Entrepreneurship Development Workshops|
h. Access To An Extensive Business Network

HalTech’s ultimate goal is helping small tech companies accelerate their growth and scale up their companies with the support of startup advisors, entrepreneurs and a milestone-based program.

Innovation Initiatives Ontario North

This North Bay, Ontario based RIC provides funding to small to medium-sized technology companies through three innovative programs. They include their Triple-P program, Step Forward Entrepreneurs Program, iRAPID program, icSTAMP program and Their 16-week Entrepreneurship Development Program.

These programs are designed to help startups enhance innovation and commercialization to improve and increase product development, sales, marketing, business growth opportunities and reaching new markets. These programs combine soft skills training and practical experience through applied research and development using educational and experiential learning.

Innovate Niagara

St. Catharines, Ontario based Innovate Niagara is a RIC with the goal of helping entrepreneurs with leading edge ideas to start and grow their businesses and succeed.

They offer entrepreneurs free access to valuable resources and services.

It includes:

a. Business Advice And Mentorship
b. Workshops
c. Market Intelligence
d. Connections And Collaboration
e. Service Providers
f. Tech Incubation

Innovate Niagara connects budding entrepreneurs with experienced business executives and advisors to help them develop strategic plans that lead to success. They receive specialized training in industry and tech trends, accounting, marketing, financial services and more along with the opportunity to collaborative with a community of innovative tech entrepreneurs.

Innovation Factory

From its base in Hamilton, Ontario, Innovation Factory provides support for startups by helping them build viable companies with the effective strategies necessary to navigate the challenges of business development. 


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    They offer important resources and help startups create effective business plans and pinpoint and refine their value proposition. They help with business model generation, strategic planning, business operations, functions and direction and employ a hands-on approach to startup evaluation and improvement.

    Some of the areas in which they offer help include:

    a. Coaching And Mentorship
    b. Pitch Training
    c. Market Intelligence
    d. Product Development
    e. Funding
    f. Financial management
    g. Incubator/Accelerator Space
    h. Sales
    I. Operational Analysis
    j. Leal And IP

    Innovation Guelph

    This Guelph, Ontario headquartered company provides small and medium-sized enterprises(SMEs), tech startups and women led businesses in all stages and in countless different sectors with the seed money and mentoring services they need to succeed through a variety of unique, innovative, programs and initiatives.

    They include:

    a. Fuel Injection
    b. Gear Up
    c. Supercharger
    d. Fast Lane
    e. Agri-innovation Accelerator
    f. Rhyze Ventures
    g. Rhyze Up!
    h. Women’s Economic Advancement
    i. À La Carte Business Solutions for Scaling SMEs
    j. Youth-Led Startups New Pitch Competition

    Innovation Guelph provides startup and SMEs with the financial support and mentorship they need to build their early-stage business, attract investors, create jobs, access new markets, expand their operations and successfully complete new and innovative projects through collaboration with a variety of companies and crowdfunding.

    Invest Ottawa

    Invest Ottawa is a RIC based in Ottawa, Ontario working with entrepreneurs from age 16 and up to build small businesses and assist with their growth through a variety of special programs. Whether your company is just an idea, already up and running or is mature but needs assistance, Invest Ottawa has programs that can help.

    They include:

    a. Immersive Training
    b. Boot Camps
    c. Business Development Courses
    d. Funding And Grants

    These and other programs are offered seasonally and when funding and grants are available. Some of the more popular programs include:

    a. Starter Company Plus
    b. Summer Company
    c. Pre-Accelerator Program
    d. Healthtech Pre-Accelerator (Pilot)
    e. Accelerator Program
    f. Scale-Up Program

    Launch Lab

    Launch Lab is a Kingston, Ontario RIC offering a wide range of programs and services for entrepreneurs. Their goal is helping entrepreneurs succeed by providing advisory services, pairing them with experienced business owners and entrepreneurs and offering guidance and one-on-one mentorship. 

    They help launch startups with innovative technologies or products and enable them to become commercialized. Through their network of professional contacts and connection to local resources, they provide help with intellectual property strategy, business structure, grants and funding programs, investments, marketing, cash forecasting, distribution and sales channels and more.

    MaRS Discovery District

    MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, Ontario helps high-impact tech ventures in Canada to develop and succeed whether they are startups or scale-ups. They have helped hundreds of Canadian companies create meaningful innovations that turned great ideas into breakthrough products and services that have had a global impact. 

    Those companies have generated over $11.7 billion in the pat decade and created more than 17,000 jobs.

    MaRS provides expert advice, connections to talented individuals and companies, the keys to attracting highly-skilled workers, access to funding, help building valuable relationships with governments, corporations and other potential customers. They provide clients with startup toolkits tailored to their unique needs.

    Northern Centre for Advanced Technology

    This Greater Sudbury, Ontario company has services, programs and facilities designed to provide the help entrepreneurs need to start companies or help existing company’s growth to be accelerated. They listen to the clients and create services, programs and resources designed to meet their needs.

    Some of those resources included:

    a. Mentorship And Coaching Services
    b. Market Intelligence
    c. Startup Education And Workshops
    d. Business Incubators
    e. Investment Capital Opportunities
    f. Government Funded Programs

    The Northern Centre for Advanced Technology can tailor a comprehensive collection of services designed to meet the specific needs of each client.

    Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre

    With facilities in Kenora and Thunder Bay, Ontario, Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre helps quickly connect businesses to sources of available funding to meet their specific needs. 

    They have helped start-ups and mid-sized companies get more than $15 million in funding through a number of innovative programs.

    They include:

    a. Canadian Digital Media Network’s Outbound Soft-Landing Program
    b. Next Level Funding
    c. National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)
    d. Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation
    e. Scientific Research & Experimental Development
    f. Starter Company Plus
    g. OCE SmartStarth. CanExportI. Business Technology Improvement Funding(BTIF)

    The Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre also helps business startups and mid-sized businesses run by young, adult or mature entrepreneurs grow by providing:

    a. Marketing and Sales Support
    b. Market Intelligence Service
    c. Partnership Development
    d. Training Lab
    e. Youth Programs And Initiatives
    f. Go Global Program

    Research Innovation Commercialization Centre

    Located in Mississauga, Ontario, Research Innovation Commercialization Centre is committed to providing entrepreneurs and startups with the broad range core services they need to accelerate their growth. 

    They provide growth-ready companies, startups and entrepreneurs with industry specific services like:

    a. Mentoring
    b. Access To Funding
    c. Market Researchd. Knowledge-Base
    d Databases
    e. Connections To Academic, Government And Industry Influencers

    They provide everything from helping entrepreneurs and startups develop tech products or services, product-market fit and marketing help, assistance with scaling up production and sales to reinvigorating mature companies.

    Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre

    Based in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, this innovation centre provides startups and established companies with access to a wide range of business services, sources of funding and other valuable resources. 

    SSMIC has many exclusive funding programs and an extensive network of expert business development advisors to help people grow their businesses with help from the Business Technology Improvement Fund(BTIF).

    The objective of SSMIC is to provide help with:

    a. Adoption, Enhancement And Implementation Of Digital Technology
    b. Modernizing Businesses Digitally And Making Them More Competitive Globally
    c. Advise On And Facilitate Technological Solutions Selection And Adoption
    d. Helping Businesses Define Goals, Recommend Actions And Gain Competitive Advantages

    Spark Centre

    From their head office in Oshawa, Ontario, the Spark Centre provides Northumberland County and Durham Region based technology and innovation entrepreneurs with the knowledge and support they need to launch they companies and help them develop and grow. 

    They do this using their business incubator’s curriculum-based program. Their tools include developing effective action plans through meetings, networking events, workshops and business advisory services with preferred service providers.

    Their services includes providing access to:

    a. Funding And Investment
    b. Business Start-Up Support
    c. Operations Support 

    TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario

    London, Ontario based TechAlliance offers entrepreneurs with new technologies and fast-growing companies with strategic direction and access the expertise and resources they need to succeed. 

    They help entrepreneurs and startups go from having an idea to running a successful business based on it at no cost to them.

    TechAlliance offers:

    a. Business Services
    b. Startup Advice
    c. One-On-One Guidance For Building Competitive Business Models
    d. Growth And Scale-Up Advice
    e. Access To Expertise On Product And Market Fit
    f. Business Strategies That Accelerate Growth
    g. Custom-Built Entrepreneur’s Toolkit
    h. Market Intelligence
    i. Legal, Marketing, Accounting Service Provider Network
    j. Connection To Community Partners
    k. Access To Capital

    All of this along with insight, advice and the help from experienced entrepreneurs and successful business leaders to enhance and improve business decision making and access to government funding programs, venture capitalists and angel investors.


    VentureLAB is a Regional Innovation Centre in Markham, Ontario that offers resources for startup development.

    They include:

    a. Fundraising
    b. Business Ideas
    c. Innosuisse Startup Training
    d. Venture Kick
    e. Innobooster
    f. ESA BIC Switzerland

    The experts at VentureLAB and many successful Swiss-based entrepreneurs work to provide seed funding and help shape the business ideas of startup owners, accelerate them through the growth stage phase or get them first round investments. They provide an effective mix of industry expertise, smart money and extensive support packages to help startups working with innovative space technology related ideas from inception throughout all stages of their venture.

    We-Tech Alliance

    A Windsor, Ontario based RIC, We-Tech Alliance provides Neighbourhood small business grants to businesses throughout Essex County and Windsor, Ontario. They help small neighbourhood businesses to thrive by providing them a wide range of services.

    Those services include:

    a. Engagement Programs
    b. Grants
    c. Tech Acceleration
    d. Business Advisory Services
    e. Build A Pipeline Of Tech Talent
    f. Championing Tech And Innovation
    g. Market Intelligence

    Just A Phone Call Away

    These are 17 Regional Innovation Centres working in Ontario, Canada to help entrepreneurs, startup and matures businesses to get the advice, guidance, support services and funding they need to succeed. If you or your company can benefit from the services they offer, call any of these regional innovation centres today.

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