Business competitions are a great way for entrepreneurs to showcase their innovative ideas and gain recognition for their hard work. These competitions are designed to encourage business growth, provide networking opportunities, and offer a chance to win valuable prizes. In Canada, there are many business competitions that take place throughout the year, each with its own unique set of rules and requirements.
This article provides an overview of business competitions, including what business competitions are, how business competitions work, and the benefits of participating in one.
We also cover the ten best business competitions for Ontario entrepreneurs, and we offer tips on how to win!
What are Business Competitions?
Business competitions in Canada are events that challenge entrepreneurs and business students to pitch their ideas, products, or services to a panel of judges. These competitions are designed to provide a platform for participants to showcase their business acumen and creativity, network with industry experts, and win prizes that can help fund their ventures.
There are various types of business competitions in Canada, including:
Business competitions in Canada are organized by universities, business schools, government agencies, and private organizations.
Benefits of Participating in Business Competitions
Participating in business competitions can be an excellent opportunity for individuals and teams to showcase their skills, creativity, and knowledge. Here are some of the benefits of participating in business competitions:
Best Business Competitions for Ontario Entrepreneurs: Top Ten
1. TiE Global – TiEQuest
TiEQuest is a multi-stage business venture competition, bringing startups from across Canada to receive advice from industry professionals, and network with top angel investors, venture capitalists, fund managers and other professionals. The winner takes home a cash prize of $25,000, $15,000 in kind prizes and the opportunity to receive $100,000 in investments. TiEQuest 2022 offered two separate tracks: MedTech and Regular.
2. Startup Canada – Startup Global
Startup Global connects a pan-Canadian cohort of entrepreneurs committed to growing global businesses with a network of partners committed to their success. They are hosting several live webinars, a pitch competition, and exclusive in-kind help to support entrepreneurs’ journey to exporting. This annual flagship program empowers founders to start their business with a global mindset and connect with key industry partners to set up for success.
Check back for updates. Pitch applications open in Spring 2023.
3. Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) (Georgian College) – Further Faster and the Grand Pitch Competition
The Further Faster program is a seven-week business training program for entrepreneurs at any stage, from idea all the way to scaling, for any type of product or service-based business. Entrepreneurs that are not current Georgian students have to pay the $99 plus HST entry fee to join the program.
The culmination of the Further Faster program is the possibility for participants to pitch their business in the Grand Pitch Competition for a chance to win up to $10,000.
4. University of Toronto Entrepreneurship – UTE Startup Prize
The University of Toronto Entrepreneurship (UTE) Startup Prize is an annual business pitch competition offering $60,000+ in prizes to recognize, reward, and accelerate the University of Toronto’s most innovative startups. Applications are open to all faculties and sector, but at least one founder must be affiliated with the University of Toronto (a student, post doc or a recent alumn).
5. Velocity, University of Waterloo – Velocity $5K (formerly Concept $5K)
The Velocity $5K pitch competition offers the opportunity for University of Waterloo student-led teams with innovative solutions and high potential business ideas to showcase their hard work and compete for grant funding. Participants receive valuable feedback, pitching experience, and idea validation from a network of experienced entrepreneurs and Velocity Coaches.
6. Haltech Regional Innovation Centre – Hi5 Pitch Competition
The Hi5 Pitch Competition features 5 high-potential clients who are given 5 minutes to pitch for a winning prize of $5,000! This competition provides Haltech’s most innovative start-ups with a fabulous opportunity to generate awareness, build the skills necessary to present in front of a broad audience and gain exposure to our broad ecosystem of industry partners.
7. Innovation Factory – LiONʼS LAIR
LiONʼS LAIR is an annual competition presented by Innovation Factory in partnership with the City of Hamilton Economic Development office, which brings together the entrepreneurship and innovation community in Hamilton. The competition gives up-and-coming entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of Hamilton’s top business experts for a chance to win cash prizes.
8. Western Morrissette Institute for Entrepreneurship (Western University) – Western Angels’ Demo Day Western
Western Angels’ Demo Day, an investor event, is a celebration of entrepreneurship that aims to bring together budding start-ups, experienced entrepreneurs, and a community of investors. This program is designed to provide opportunities for Western entrepreneurs to secure investments typically ranging between $50,000 and $3 Million+.
9. Centre for Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CEIE) (Toronto Metropolitan University) – Innovation Boost Zone (IBZ): Raise
IBZ’s Raise is a nine (9)-week hybrid program designed to help technology-agnostic startups become investor-ready. From determining their company’s best financing option to nailing their pitch, entrepreneurs will have everything they need to approach investors with confidence.
Entrepreneurs without any affiliation with TMU are eligible to apply, but they must be able to attend in-person events in Toronto.
10. The Forge, McMaster University – Startup Survivor Program and Pitch Competition
Startup Survivor is a 4-month innovation program culminating with a pitch competition in October, open to McMaster students and recent alumni. Throughout the summer, The Forge will be giving out up to $75,000 cash to the teams competing in the 6 challenges.
This year’s program runs May to August and applications close on March 31st, 2023.
Tips to Win Business Competitions in Canada
Understand the Competition
Before entering any business competition, it’s essential to understand the competition. Research the past winners, the judges, and the criteria used to select the winners. Knowing what the judges are looking for will help you tailor your pitch and business plan to meet their expectations.
Create a Compelling Pitch
Your pitch is the first impression the judges will have of your business. It’s crucial to make it compelling and memorable. Start with a strong opening that captures their attention and clearly communicates your business idea. Use visuals, storytelling, and data to support your pitch and make it more engaging.
Build a Strong Team
A strong team is critical to winning a business competition. Make sure to assemble a team with diverse skills and experiences that complement each other. Each team member should have a clearly defined role and be able to contribute to the success of the business plan.
Develop a Solid Business Plan
A solid business plan is the foundation of a successful business. Make sure your plan is well-researched, realistic, and includes a clear path to profitability. Show the judges that you have a deep understanding of your market, your competition, and your customers.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice makes perfect, and that’s especially true when it comes to business competitions. Practice your pitch, your business plan, and your responses to potential questions from the judges. The more you practice, the more confident and prepared you’ll be on competition day.
List of Business Competitions in Canada
We’ve covered some of the best business competition for Ontario-based businesses in this article. If you’re looking for a complete list of case competitions, pitch competitions, and business plan competitions in Canada, check out these lists: