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Toronto has risen to become 1 of the major innovation hubs globally. The best startups in Toronto are tackling ambitious projects and sectors like augmented reality, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain. As the startup ecosystem expands, entrepreneurs are looking for the best accelerators in Toronto to support their vision.
Are you planning to execute a startup idea in Toronto? In this piece, we give you 10 of the best accelerators that will help you with a bottom-up startup approach. We chose these 10 based on local rankings, alumni feedback and resources offered.
What is an Accelerator?
An accelerator is a business program, but to be more specific, we will focus on startups. A startup accelerator is a program that enables entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses. The program lasts for a short time, which is usually 3 months. During this period, participants are trained, mentored, introduced to peer networks, given access to capital or other profitable resources.
Every startup accelerator aims to grow a startup to a level that it can stand on its own and raise more money. Participants have to attend classes, seminars, workshops, work with mentors and even pitch to prospective investors to achieve this. The aim is to gain size and valuation as quickly as possible.
What about incubators? Incubators are organizations that support businesses and help them grow and succeed by providing low-cost workspace. In some cases, accelerators have grown to offer incubation services where, apart from providing affordable office space, mentorship, access to investors and working capital are provided.
To join an accelerator or incubator, you have to apply. If accepted, you will have to adhere to the requirements to meet the set benchmarks.
Which Companies are the Best Toronto Accelerators For?
To join or not to join? Different founders have different opinions when it comes to accelerator programs. Some believe they are too good to have a business babysitter, while some know that accelerators provide a conducive growth-driven ecosystem.
So what type of companies join accelerators? Accelerators are for you if:
- It would help if you had an ecosystem of support. Accelerators do not just offer financial support. You can gain access to patent attorneys or even CFO services to advise you as you grow your startup. Companies also get to work with industry experts and advisers.
- You want to develop or upgrade your skills. This is for you and your team. Accelerators help early-stage startups design and develop relevant tools and documents. These tools and documents help a business establish itself as an authority and also identify the gaps.
- You need super funding for your incredible idea. Accelerators generally invest in early-stage startups, which makes it easier to grow a business. In addition to that, some accelerators train founders on how to apply for government grants.
How to Pick the Best Accelerator in Toronto for Your Startup
Accelerators bring a sense of renewed hope and expectation for a business. It should also be noted that not all accelerators fit every startup. An accelerator only serves its purpose if it can deliver the following:
- A network of successful mentors, service providers and investors. Ask alumni how their mentorship experience was.
- Specialty in a specific set of skills and industries.
- Experienced educators and trainers.
- Has a system that is relevant and effective to your unique business needs. In summary, ask about the tools, framework and techniques integrated into the program to propel you toward growth and success.
A majority of accelerators claim to have mentors and experts working with them. However, this is not the case. Placing a successful entrepreneur in front of a class is not always a good approach. A good accelerator should offer a relevant and engaging learning experience. Let us now look at the top accelerators in Toronto.
9 Best Accelerators in Toronto
Here are Benzinga’s choices for the best accelerators in Toronto, Canada.
1. Best Research and Commercialization Accelerator: Ontario Genomics + SynBio Landing Pad Program, founded 2000
Ontario Genomics + SynBio Landing Pad Program specializes in supporting engineering biology and scale genomics companies based in Ontario. The program partners with the leading support organizations and incubators in the city, such as Synapse and Velocity.
Upon finishing the program, participants are eligible for up to $100,000 in Landing Pad funding. Access to an Ontario incubator valued at $50,000 also is offered. There are no notable names associated with the program, and it has 0 exits and 11 investments.
2. Best Scalable Science and Technology Accelerator: Creative Destruction Lab, founded 2012
Creative Destruction Lab is a program whose primary focus is quantum machine learning, blockchain, health, AI, cities and prime. It’s a seed-stage program supporting companies that are into massive scalable science and technology. The aim is to maximize equity value.
Although it is a seed-stage program, Creative Destructive Lab requires that those who apply to join it are beyond the conception stage and are working on or have developed a prototype. Companies get mentored by angel investors and entrepreneurs where they are provided with critical feedback, validation and support. Some of the notable names associated with the program are Luminari Talend, Audible Reality, LabsCubed, Nix Color Sensor, Galaxy AI and Squad.
3. Best Minority Accelerator: CanQbate50, founded 2020
CanQbate is a minority program that offers an opportunity for startup founders of Indian origin who want to establish themselves in Canada. The program is a result of a joint initiative of Venture Development Institute and Nucleus Advisors LLP.
The goal is to guide and assist 50 founders in converting their ideas into businesses for the Canadian market. The program lasts 8 months. CanQbate invests up to $350,000 Canadian dollars in startups. The program has 18 investments and 0 exits. Some notable names associated with this program are Wealthhorse, Antier and Travoxi.
4. Best Pre-Seed Stage Accelerator: The Founder Institute Toronto, founded 2009
The Founder Institute Toronto is a pre-seed accelerator. The program helps businesses gain acceptance into seed-stage accelerators. Participants get assistance from Toronto-based experts and learn how to build reliable companies.
It is a program that works with experts who are willing to invest in your success. The accelerator works with tech and tech-enabled businesses. What is expected of participants? They are to join a collective pool where they contribute 4% of equity.
Financial returns from the pool are then divided equally with alumni, the institute, local leaders and program mentors. Some of the notable names associated with the program are Find on, Intelocate and Makeup for Melanin Girls.
5. Best Free Accelerator: gBETA Toronto, founded 2015
gBETA Toronto is a nationally-ranked accelerator program. It is also a free 7-week program that works with local early-stage companies. No need for fees or equity. This program focuses on tech and tech-enabled companies.
Even though the program currently has no notable companies associated with it, it offers a good deal. Participants get personalized coaching and mentorship plus 1-on-1 meetings with industry experts, an engaging lunch-and-learn series and an opportunity to network and pitch.
6. Best Media and Entertainment Accelerator: IDEABOOST, founded 2012
IDEABOOST is an accelerator whose primary focus is growing digital media companies and products in the Canadian market. The requirements of joining this program are that the company should be working on platforms or products for media and entertainment.
What do companies get in return? Up to $350,000 as seed investment, mentorship, training and networking. Madlipz, Navi Inc., Little Robot Friends, Creatubbles, Liquid Cinema and Paddle HR are just some of the notable names the accelerator is associated with.
7. Best Students Accelerator: Hatchery (UoT), founded 2012
Hatchery (UoT) prides itself on being the program that creates startups. The program has a suite of other programs and services that enable students to become entrepreneurs and develop the competency to launch into the market. It focuses on tech and tech-enabled companies.
Participants are required to be students from a university in Toronto with a passion for entrepreneurship. The participants, in turn, get their ideas turned into startups, connect with co-founders and solve problems with their innovative ideas. Some of the notable names associated with the program are Trexo Robotics, PheedLoop, BenchSci, Hol Food and medchart.
8. Best Legal Cannabis Sector Accelerator: Leaf Forward, founded 2017
Are you a startup engaging in the legal cannabis sector? If yes, then Leaf Forward is the accelerator program for you. The program’s primary focus is the legal cannabis sector, and it is happy to work with innovative cannabis startups.
Participants can get an investment of up to $75,000 in this 16-week program where they will scale up and receive mentorship from industry experts. Munch Brothers, Motif Labs, Eddy Delivery, Sacred Leaf and BRNT Designs are just some of the notable names associated with Leaf Forward.
9. Best International Accelerator: Techstars, founded 2006
Techstars is a globally recognized accelerator; hence it should not be a surprise that it has a program in Toronto. Currently, the program is led by Sunil Sharma, a leader in coaching and stirring the Toronto startup ecosystem.
Techstars Toronto works with teams that are well balanced, possess a wide array of skills and are all about tech. This is a program where participants are offered $20,000 for living expenses and a $100,000 convertible note. This will cost the participants 6% equity. Some of the notable names associated with this program are Pitstop, Sprout, Robin and Curv AI.
Find the Best Accelerator in Toronto for Your Startup
With such a dynamic startup scene, the best accelerators in Toronto provide support and knowledge to ideas and visions that may change the world. Use our guide to the best accelerators in Toronto to get your startup moving.
Want to learn more about other local rankings across the United States? Check out the rest of Benzinga’s Rankings.
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