Canada Startup Visa Program: An Inside Look at Canada’s Startup Scene

by Northen Road, January 14th, 2022
Canada Startup Visa Program: An Inside Look at Canada’s Startup Scene

Author: Nolan Clack, Guest Blogger.

Canada’s startup tech scene has been gearing towards attracting top tech talent worldwide from small, medium, and large tech firms at a record pace. Since the start of Canada’s startup visa program, it has brought in many entrepreneurs from around the world to set up a new venture in Canada’s favourable and competitive market conditions.


So what is driving this growth? How does a country like Canada manage to attract entrepreneurs, and why is Canada’s startup environment so attractive for startups in the Great White North?


In this blog, you’ll get to dive into what Canada’s startup visa program is about, why Canada should be on your list to start a new venture, what cities offer the best environment, and what Canada’s startup scene is like that drives entrepreneurial success. So let’s jump into it!


Why Canada: Canada Startup Immigration


Canada’s Immigration startup program has attracted many foreign talents for good reasons. Given Canada’s strong economic market, English as a native language, high standard of life, and a pebble stone throw away from the United States provide ease for foreign nationals to integrate within the Canadian market. As a G7 country, Canada’s education system, communities, government support, and incentives provide a lucrative tech hub under Canada’s startup visa program. Canada’s friendly and open approach to encouraging entrepreneurship brings new innovation to the forefront as a leading country to start a business.


Funding Support


As a foreign national looking to immigrate to Canada with a startup idea, one of Canada’s significant drivers to Canada’s immigration startup success is the Canadian governments’ ongoing support. The Canadian government offers generous tax breaks and continuous encouragement to startups through financial support initiatives. The most common financing options available for foreign startups supported by the Canadian government’s initiative are connecting companies with venture capital programs, angel investors, accelerator, and incubator programs.


Government and Education Supports

Canada’s thriving startup ecosystem wouldn’t be a competitive market if it wasn’t thanks to the prosperous education within universities in Canada. Many universities in Canada, such as the University of British Columbia, McGill University, and the University of Toronto, are highly recognized for their innovation and government-funded incubators and accelerator programs. In addition, many of Canada’s prestigious universities are given government grants for extensive research and development for new technologies and scientific research.


Startup Communities

One significant advantage of Canada’s immigration startup programs is the vast number and bustling startup communities throughout the country. All major cities in Canada have a number of public, private, and nonprofit sectors that support up-and-coming startups in their development and growth stages. As a result, individuals and startup teams that enter Canada’s visa startup program will have several communities to tap into, all with inspiring entrepreneurs from nationalities from around the globe.



Canadian Immigration Startup Programs

To support the government’s initiative, entrepreneurs coming from abroad to start a new venture in Canada offer several Canadian immigration startup programs to choose from to start their own company. As the most significant incentive, Canada’s visa startup program grants foreign nationals the right to live and work within Canada, providing other benefits such as free healthcare and economic benefits once permanent residency has been acquired.


Talent Stacked-Up On Talent


With so many large and prestigious universities in Canada, along with Canada’s large intake of international students, talent from both local Canadian and international student graduates are in abundance. In addition, many students choose to stay in Canada after graduation and lean towards working in Canada’s startup ecosystem. Thus, providing overseas entrepreneurs in Canada’s immigration startup programs a pool of top-notch talent to select from to help grow and excel in their ventures.

With one of the leading economies, Canada is poised to undertake some of the next best tech innovations. Some of the largest funded and well-known Canadian top tech startups you might be familiar with, brands like ApplyBoard, Hootsuite, and StackAdapt, are all foreign-owned nationals who immigrated to Canada through Canada’s visa startup programs. Respectfully, ApplyBoard, a foreign-owned Edtech company, was recently valued at $4 billion Canadian dollars, making ApplyBoard one of the hottest and up-and-coming startups that would have entered Canada’s startup visa program.


Canadian Tech Startups and Top Industries


Now that we’ve dove into why Canada’s Great White North is an excellent location for entrepreneurs, let’s look at Canada’s top tech industries that entrepreneurs should be looking to catch investors’ attention through Canada’s visa startup programs.





Canada offers ripe conditions for entrepreneurs looking to take on the eCommerce space. As a country with the world’s heaviest online users, Canadians are adept at making daily purchases from major retailers online. At the end of 2021, Canada will have slightly over 27 million eCommerce users. Some not bad numbers considering Canada’s population sits at 38 million people. Not only that, with Canada’s rigorous immigration plans, with an expected population growth rate to go up 5.1% by the year 2025, eCommerce will continue to have opportunities for new startups in the market.


Given the market conditions, entrepreneurs looking to enter Canada’s visa startup program have significant opportunities that lie ahead of them jumping into the eCommerce space. Not only that, fashion, electronics, and media are centered at the leading product categories in Canadian eCommerce spendings. Entrepreneurs in Vietnam looking at Canada’s immigration startup programs are at a competitive advantage entering the Canadian market, given that Vietnam’s largest export markets come from electronics, clothing, and apparel. Notably, from a Canadian point of view, Vietnamese eCommerce brands are quite impressive, and Canadian eCommerce brands could have some stiff competition with any Vietnamese-run eCommerce firms that decide to enter the market.



Healthcare Tech


Although it is not a familiar industry in Vietnam, healthcare tech is forging exponential opportunities for entrepreneurs from overseas to jump into Canada’s healthcare tech scene. Canada’s high standard healthcare, along with Canada’s large pool of top talent, the country favours entrepreneurs with innovative healthcare tech ideas and business models to apply for Canada’s startup visa programs.

It is estimated that Canada’s digital health market has reached over $5 billion Canadian dollars at the start of 2020. COVID-19 has only accelerated the digital healthcare market growth, which has helped ease pressure on Canada’s healthcare system and is here to stay. Provided that healthcare will always be needed, the risk for Canadian investors in healthcare tech is next to none, making this industry full proof with a suitable business model and strategy. As a result, entrepreneurs from overseas with healthcare innovations are encouraged to enter and apply for Canada’s startup immigration scheme for the healthcare tech industry.



Artificial Intelligence


Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Canada has no shortage of talent and shouldn’t be undermined. Universities in Canada are heavily funded by the federal government to excel and expand research centers and laboratories in AI that contribute to a large segment of Canada’s startup ecosystem. Thanks to the extensive funding, Canada is a global leader in this industry, allowing entrepreneurs in Canada’s startup visa programs to be well-equipped for talent to disrupt the machine learning space.


Founders with business models and ideas in the transportation, manufacturing, retail, and infrastructure sectors are highly sought out by Canadian investors to develop tech companies with intuitive and resilient supply chains AI integrations.


In 2021 alone, the province of Québec had $1.2 billion financial injections from the federal government, creating a rising demand on Canadian immigration startup programs to attract additional foreign talent to take part in Montréal’s thriving tech scene.



Delivery Services


Although app-enabled delivery services are saturated in the Canadian market, we have high confidence that Vietnamese entrepreneurs can compete with Canadian brands in the delivery service space.


How did we come to this conclusion?


With Vietnam’s near 100 million population, high mobile digital penetration rate, and extensive knowledge working with large logistics systems, Vietnam has a solid understanding of delivery services on a mass scale. In addition, the delivery service industry in Vietnam accounts for a large part of domestic economic growth, and skilled talent knows very well how to reach consumers from each end of the country through mobile delivery apps. Therefore, we firmly believe Vietnamese entrepreneurs in this space will have a significant competitive advantage in entering the Canadian market.


To gain market validation on business models and strategies, we recommend Vietnamese entrepreneurs to enter Canada’s startup visa program through Canada’s accelerator programs. Accelerator programs will provide comprehensive resources from academics, mentors, and established Canadian brands to ride the wave to gain consumer acquisitions. Not only that, accelerator programs are an excellent source for Canadian immigration startup visa holders to build an extensive network to grow their business.



Educational Technology


Educational Technology, also known as EdTech, is one of Canada’s fastest-growing industries, hitting the $1 billion Canadian dollar mark annually. The EdTech industry is targeted to K-12, along with postsecondary technologies. All with a prime focus to ramp up educational processes such as hardware, cloud-based solution, digital learning materials, and one of our favorites, supporting international students to find and apply to their dream educational programs and institutions in Canada.


Canadian startup visa programs welcome with open arms entrepreneurs that contribute and complement Canada’s robust educational system. Due to COVID-19, the EdTech sector has dramatically changed the way Canada approaches education, and it will only continue to unleash some unique and exciting education startups.



Financial Technology


Despite the challenges and obstacles of the global pandemic, Financial Technology (Fintech) remained a strong growth outlook in the Canadian market. Moreover, as the Canadian business ecosystem evolves, many Fintech companies are finding themselves with new partnerships, accelerating Canada’s growing fintech hub.


Canada to date has approximately 700 fintech startups dispersed around major cities. However, don’t let these numbers discourage you from applying for Canada’s startup immigration programs. Canada’s fintech adoption and financing rates amongst the public are increasing, and the demand for these services will continue to grow. The distribution of Canadian fintech with the lowest market saturation includes; capital markets, risk assessment, wealth management, and personal financial management systems. Applying for a Canadian startup visa program with any of the above service offerings has exponential opportunities in the fintech space.

Immigration Canada: Startup Cities and Ecosystems


Depending on which industries you’re thinking of breaking into within Canada’s immigration startup programs, have a good understanding of what Canadian cities offer within their ecosystem. Research and knowing beforehand can make a significant difference in market entry and acquiring customers.




On the top of the list, Toronto is ranked as the top city in Canada for startups. Given the city’s sizable multicultural population, ease of doing business, and extensive international talent pool, many choose Toronto for their Canada startup visa program.


Toronto’s vast entrepreneur communities, several multinational headquarters, along with a variety of angel investors, venture capitals, and incubator programs available, offer an international nest welcoming entrepreneurs from around the globe. Moreover, as the largest financial center in Canada, the city hosts the most fintech startups in the country.


The talent pool and startup scene in Toronto are so large, the city has over 15,000 tech startups with a little over 300,000 tech talents that live, work and call home. Toronto’s startup ecosystem is estimated to be valued at $17 billion Canadian dollars. Compared to the global average sitting at $10.5 billion, no wonder Toronto is poised as Canada’s immigration startup city of choice.





Unique from the rest of the startup cities in Canada, Montréal is highly known for its extensive and dynamic ecosystem in artificial intelligence, big data, the internet of things, video games, advanced robotics, and AI-powered manufacturing.


Montréal’s most prestigious university in Canada, McGill University, and many other universities in Montréal have the highest concentration of AI scientists globally, ramping up the skilled talent pool with over 100,000 tech workers.

Many foreign nationals choose Montréal for its Canadian startup visa program for its French culture, ample access to government and venture capital funding, the extensive network of startups, impressive international talent pool, and one of Canada’s most affordable major cities.


In 2021, Montréal startups raised an impressive $1.15 billion from solely venture capitals. Add the government funding invested in startups, and Montréal makes a highly desirable location for Canada’s immigration startup scene.



Vancouver has made third on the list of best cities in Canada for Canadian startup immigration. The city is well known for the numerous incubators and accelerator programs to support entrepreneurs in validating their business ideas, testing within the market, and providing access to mentors, venture capitals, and angel investors. In Q2 of 2021 alone, the city closed in on $900 million Canadian dollars in startup tech investments.


Located on the pacific coast, the University of British Columbia has its own HATCH Venture Accelerator, where students are encouraged and supported to start and validate their business ideas. In addition, the University of British Columbia hosts thousands of international students on their Vancouver campus, all with eager graduates eager to put their academic knowledge into up and coming companies.


As an applicant considering Canada’s startup visa program, entrepreneurs interested in Vancouver will have opportunities in green energies, tech sustainability solutions, social media startups, fitness and wearable techs, digital media, and eCommerce.




Ottawa, the capital of Canada, has the highest number of university graduates from any city in the country. In addition, Ottawa boasts several incubators and accelerator programs that are heavily funded by the government. The capital of Canada invests heavily in research and development, with high growth knowledge-based industries that account largely for startups within clean technologies, aerospace, and connected autonomous vehicles.

There are many benefits of choosing to start a business in Ottawa. Firstly, many government-run departments work closely with tech startups that provide innovative solutions to support government processes. Secondly, as the capital of Canada, startup investments hit the $1.2 billion Canadian dollars mark in 2021 alone. Therefore, making Ottawa an excellent location for applicants under the Canadian visa startup program if your business idea falls under any of the above knowledge-based industries.



Now that you have a better understanding of what is driving Canada’s growth, its ecosystem, and why so many entrepreneurs are attracted to Canada’s Great White North, perhaps it’s your time to apply for Canada’s startup immigration program?


Here at Northern Road, we are 100% Canadian-owned and licensed Canadian immigration consultants, supporting entrepreneurs with business model validation, Canadian market entry, and immigration service.


Contact us; we would love to hear more about your business ideas!