in Incubator/Accelerator, Incubators

Incubators, Accelerators, and Cyclotrons

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They are lining up like storm troopers.

It looks like a new crop of accelerators, incubators or, as I prefer, cyclotrons have started opening in Toronto. We’ve been talking on and off about Incubators, Accelerators and Ignition since early in 2009.

Here is my list of incubators/accelerators/cyclotrons:

And this is on top of the existing coworking, shared real estate, available to entrepreneurs in Toronto.
There are lots of opportunity for entrepreneurs to find a mix of real estate, services, and cash for equity in their businesses. My advice is make sure you aren getting more than real estate with benefits. Maybe next we need to provide entrepreneurs a framework for making critical decisions about startup things including incubators ;-)
Who did I miss?


  1. Industry Canada provides a more complete Canadian list of incubators

  2. definitely some very different beasts among this list David. at the risk of over generalizing, I think the appeal of accelerators is direct/ indirect access to growth capital. This implies quality mentorship, biz dev intros and being plugged into the funding ecosystem and being a part of that ecosystem. If you apply those filters this list becomes a lot shorter.

  3. I agree… as an alumni of Year One Labs, I feel lucky that our accelerator had advisors within arms length throughout the day.  They were sitting next to us literally.  I abused the crap out of that and I feel having that kind of guidance and access has greatly contributed to our success.  

    Well connected advisors and mentors with solid startup experience and connections is vital.  Even better if they are there in the space with you.  Don’t settle for less.

  4. Perused this list and looked up some (to familiarize myself with those I’d never heard of).

    No dough but have “support” services:
    MaRS Commons
    UW Velocity – students only
    Ryerson DMZ – students only
    Impact Infused – for young entrepreneurs
    Toronto Business Development Centre
    MEIC – touts a Mobile Accelerator Program that costs $250 minimum for membership (which does not guarantee incubation support).
    Incubes – No dough but takes 7.5% equity?!  At least support-only outfits like Mars don’t charge
    Multiplicity – plus $150 monthly fee that can be paid either in cash, or in “karma”?!
    Bolidea – works with chosen teams to find and execute most promising ideas from “list of wild things to try”.
    Bento Dojo – promises to be your co-founder, selects such potential partners through pool of clients that are/have used their paid services.  So really, you pay them.

    Standard incubators (give a few coins for a handful of equity):
    Founder Fuel
    Next36 – students only
    Infusion Angels – no info on actual operational team behind it, amount/terms of investment, etc.

    Standard VC (mo’ coins with mo’ strings attached):
    Extreme Ventures
    Mantella Venture Partners

    BTW, bNotions – An interactive/technology agency like TWG, not at all in the incubator/accelerator business.  Not sure why you listed it?

  5. A few more at academic institutions:

    University of Toronto Institute of Optical Sciences – Techno – Humber – College IdeaWorks – Centre at McMaster University –

    There is one at U Windsor and one in Ottawa jointly between Carleton, Ottawa U and Algonquin. 

    There are apparently at least 12 academic incubator / accelerators in the area between Hamilton / KW and Oshawa.

  6. Correction of previous post:

    University of Toronto Institute of Optical Sciences – Techno –

    Innovation Humber –

    Mohawk College IdeaWorks –

    Xerox Centre at McMaster University –

  7. Never use the words “Storm Troopers”  Its derogatory, and has connotations of Hitlers’ Nazi elite killing squad. 

  8. That’s definitely an area that Canada has made great leaps forward in the past 3 years, and this is where the very important groundswell activity takes place. 

    But this vibrancy and variety must be met by equally aggressive and generous Series A funders to give these nascent companies their own wings to fly. Otherwise, the whole thing will go crashing down. It’s like having lots of high-schools and lots of students graduating but not enough universities to take them on their next journey.

  9. Just thought I’d add a couple more here, David. The Don Pether Incubator is located in the McMaster Innovation Park Centre here in Hamilton – – and is up and running nicely!

    As well, up in cottage land (who says innovation is always a big city thing???) is the Haliburton Incubator here – – and the thought that they are taking the incubator ideal and moving it to the rural areas is a nice one, eh!

    As well, there is also one partly open/being finished up at Mohawk College too….and I know of 2 others in final constructions phases that will open in the first quarter of 2012!

    Hamilton has some real momentum and I’m so glad to be a part of same, eh!


  10. Agreed. The question is really what do you as an entrepreneur expect to get out “an incubator/accelerator/cyclotron”. When you think of them as services for equity, see @86ed1df874e63e4c5d729b6ade1f0303:disqus comments below, the different providers segment very differently. 

  11. Great breakdown using cash provided and intended audience for segmentation. The challenge any entrepreneur should be looking at is the track record of those involved in running the incubator/accelerator/cyclotron to actually provide the outcomes the entrepreneur desires. As @startupcfo:disqus points out that many use language and intention that make them seem to be the @YCombinator of for their locality. Very few have the demonstrated access or pedigree to back up the copywriting. 

    I hope that we’re just not looking at a lot of people that can manipulate the copy writing and not provide a lot of value to a new generation of entrepreneurs.

  12. I was recently accepted into INcubes incubator, think there’s lots of potential for its program and the entrepreneurs that get in! Thanks for putting together the list David, I still can’t believe how thin things are for startups in Toronto though. I pay the most attention to the startup scene in the US, and feel like we in Canada are about 4 years behind where they are now. It’s the early days here, but it’s exciting to be part of!

  13. thanks, the classification helps and just a note that the Zone is for students, yes, but also alumni and others. A thought though on all incubators and accelerators: One of the best things we’ve found in service for startups is the peer to peer mentoring which just means true friendly collaboration and potential cross pollination of expertise, networks, avenues to funding, knowledge and creative ideas. 

  14. Anyone is free to use the phrase “Storm Troopers”, given that also refers to different things:
    an Italian anti-war comic book series,
    fictional soldiers from Star Wars like Darth Vader,
    elite soldiers in the fictional Imperial Guard of Warhammer 40,000(scifi boardgame),
    a musical band, amongst other things.

    school yo’self:


  15. Good point on ability/track record to back up the copywriting.  It encapsulates what turns me off about many of them; just copy-pasting the YC questionnaire template and generic “incubator” website format does not inspire my confidence to join.   Thank god for bootstrapping as an option.

  16. Communitech in Waterloo has to be on this list. I got grounded, well thought out advice from Brett Shellhammer, and some useful connections to capital. In my view, Communitech are a go-to outfit more people should be taking advantage of. Cool location, too.

  17. Communitech is really the model by which the rest of the organizations should be measured against. They are not an incubator or accelerator (that would be the Accelerator Centre in Waterloo). I didn’t list MaRS because it is a support oranization, but I listed MaRS Commons because it is their new incubator/accelerator space. 

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