Big City Incubators vs Innovation Cluster’s Startup Incubator: Which is Better for Your Startup?

Big City Incubators vs Innovation Cluster’s Startup Incubator: Which is Better for Your Startup?

Are you an entrepreneur looking for a way to take your business to the next level? Have you dreaded the idea of having to find a midpoint between investing enough in your work and at the same time not forfeiting quality time with family, friends and leisure activities? If the struggle of balancing professional and personal life sounds familiar, know that mentors in the Innovation Cluster startup incubator programs support and guide entrepreneurs in achieving this balance. Here, we will discuss what advantages are on offer when joining a startup incubator in a smaller city.

The Benefits of Launching and Growing a Startup at the Innovation Cluster


Strong Ties to the Local Community

Startup incubators are in smaller cities often have direct ties with the local community, which can be a valuable asset for entrepreneurs looking to establish their businesses. These ties can help entrepreneurs to build connections and gain support from local leaders, businesses, and citizens. Additionally, these incubators often partner with other organizations such as government agencies, non-profits, and educational institutions, to provide entrepreneurs with access to resources and expertise that they might not otherwise have access to. This can be a key factor in the success of businesses, as it allows entrepreneurs to leverage the strengths of these organizations to help them grow and thrive.

Lower cost of living

One of the significant advantages of selecting a smaller city for business incubation is the low cost of living. Compared to larger cities, rural areas tend to have lower prices for housing and other necessary services such as groceries and utilities. This can help startup entrepreneurs save money, allowing them to focus on building a minimum viable product instead of worrying about extravagant overhead costs. Due to the lower prices in rural areas, startups will also benefit from a variety of other ways, such as access to more affordable suppliers and an overall better quality of life.

Focus on product development without the distractions of city life

A small town startup incubator can provide an environment for product development where you can maximize your work-life balance without the distractions of city life. The incubator can give access to critical resources such as fast internet, business mentors, networking, and experienced investors. Additionally, it can offer a supportive atmosphere with low overhead costs, less stress, and fewer distractions that could impede productivity. Working in a rural area means access to wide open spaces, quiet environments, and abundant natural resources with many health benefits. All these factors combined create the perfect work environment to focus on refining product solutions and developing new ideas without the chaos of an urban setting.

Where is Peterborough and the Kawarthas?

Located in Central Ontario, Canada, Peterborough and the Kawarthas is one of the fastest-growing destinations for entrepreneurs looking for natural beauty and creative ideas to inspire their businesses. With access to professional services, financial incentives, and top-tier talent from nearby Trent University and Fleming College, this area is designed for startups to grow and scale. Plus, with all the lakes, rivers, and hills throughout the region, it’s excellent for those who want a break from the hustle and bustle of big city life.  Peterborough and the Kawarthas has become the top choice for founders seeking a work-life balance, natural beauty, top-tier resources and talent, and an exciting startup culture.

The Benefits of Building Your Startup in Peterborough and the Kawarthas



Entrepreneurs living in Peterborough and the Kawarthas have access to a beautiful natural environment that allows them to find their ideal work environment, with plenty of places nearby to clear their heads, find inspiration, and work out their ideas. 

Peterborough and the Kawarthas is a beautiful area surrounded by pristine lakes, forests, and trails. It also offers easy access to outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, hiking, and swimming. Imagine bringing your laptop to the lake for beautiful scenery while working on your next pitch deck. For entrepreneurs in this region, nature becomes an integral part of their workday as they embrace and explore both their physical and digital worlds.

Work-Life Balance                                                    

Living in Peterborough and the Kawarthas offers a slower pace of life compared to larger urban areas. The region is known for its natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities, which allow residents to enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle. The smaller cities and towns in the area offer a more laid-back atmosphere and a sense of community that is often missing in larger cities. 

The slower pace of life in the region also means that there is a more relaxed attitude towards work-life balance, allowing residents to enjoy a better balance of work and leisure time. The community is connected and friendly, people are more willing to help each other and the atmosphere is less competitive compare to big cities. This can be particularly beneficial for entrepreneurs and business owners, as it can help reduce stress and improve overall mental health and well-being.


Peterborough and the Kawarthas offer a unique lifestyle for entrepreneurs, with small-town charm and big city amenities, as well as a safe and secure community. The region is known for its low crime rate, which provides peace of mind for business owners and employees alike and can lead to increased productivity and a more positive work environment. Additionally, the low crime rate can also attract top talent to the area, as many people prioritize safety when looking for job opportunities. 

The area offers a variety of activities to participate in, from artisan workshops to wellness experiences and excellent shopping and dining options to lively arts and culture experiences. This combination of small-town charm, big city amenities and safety make it an attractive option for entrepreneurs looking to establish or expand their business in a welcoming community.


Peterborough and the Kawarthas offer entrepreneurs a unique opportunity to be part of close-knit and welcoming communities that are driven by a spirit of collaboration and volunteering. The community feel that comes from small-town living allows people to feel connected in a way that isn’t possible in many big cities, and there are plenty of opportunities for individuals to get involved through local organizations or events. 

Additionally, this region has a robust support system among neighbors, businesses, and local organizations that provide countless resources for individuals and families. From childcare options to employment opportunities to mental health resources, ample help is available for anyone who needs it. This strong support network helps foster a sense of connectedness within the community, allowing people to come together in times of need or difficulty, making it easy to feel like you belong here when everyone is there to lend a helping hand.

Raising a Family                                         

Peterborough and the Kawarthas provide a great environment for families with a variety of family-friendly activities to participate in year-round and quality education systems. There are plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventures like kayaking, canoeing, and tubing on the numerous lakes, rivers and trails, as well as more leisurely pursuits like exploring local museums or enjoying one of the many festivals that occur throughout the year. One benefit of raising a family in the Peterborough and Kawarthas area is the availability of a wide range of sports teams for children to participate in. This allows children to stay active, develop skills and make friends in a supportive and fun environment.

The Innovation Cluster – An Unbeatable Work-Life Balance for Entrepreneurs in Peterborough and the Kawarthas

The Innovation Cluster in Peterborough and the Kawarthas has many advantages for entrepreneurs and an unbeatable work-life balance. You can focus on product development without the distractions of city life. At the same time, you’ll be able to enjoy nature, create a lifestyle of your choosing, join a community that feels like family, and raise any future children in an environment conducive to growth. Whether you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle or want to become part of something bigger than yourself — this is where work and life are made better. 

So what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on the chance to develop your business while taking advantage of all our region has to offer. Consider applying to one of our innovative startup programs – the Startup Incubator, the Student Visa Canada Program, and Fast Start for Student Entrepreneurs – and take the first step towards turning your entrepreneurial dreams into reality. It could be just what you were looking for to achieve optimal work-life balance while growing your startup!

Everything you need to know about having a startup mentor

Everything you need to know about having a startup mentor

When launching a startup, acquiring a lot of knowledge and skills is an ongoing process. Thanks to our technology-driven world, there are unlimited resources available at our fingertips. But as convenient and accessible as these online materials may be, they do not understand your business, are not able to give tailored advice, and the information may not always be accurate or trustworthy. Learning from a startup mentor – their lived experiences, industry expertise, and path to success – is arguably one of the most valuable ingredients that will set your business up for success.


What is a startup mentor?


A startup mentor is someone who provides guidance and advice as you navigate launching, operating, and growing your startup business. Commonly they are a seasoned and successful entrepreneur, have had years of relevant experience within your industry, or are an expert in a field crucial to your startup’s success.

Startup businesses can either form a relationship with one sole mentor, or due to the various types of mentors that exist they may acquire many with each serving a different purpose.



Types of Startup Mentors


  • Successful Entrepreneurs

Company founders who are mentored by successful entrepreneurs are more than 3x more likely to become top performers. Simply put, business mentors for startups who are successful entrepreneurs have been in your shoes in one way or another and have the first-hand experience to guide you through the different stages of your company’s growth.

Every successful entrepreneur has had some major wins along their journey, but it is often their failures where you will learn the biggest lessons. Their years of experience can provide you with insider tips, teach you critical skills, secure strategic partnerships, and provide networking opportunities that can lead to introductions with investors or key suppliers.


  • Industry Expert

Industry experts who become startup mentors have the ability to teach entrepreneurs crucial knowledge, existing regulations, the industry’s competitive landscape, and popular trends and preferences among customers.

Due to their years of experience and expertise, they have formed deep connections with important players that can lead to promising introductions, and they have an ability to sense where the industry is headed.


  • Field Expert

Field experts may or may not work within your startup’s given industry, but they have deep experience, knowledge, and skillsets in a particular area that is of great value to your business. Examples of this may be a sales executive, seasoned marketing professional, engineer, software developer, or technical expert to name a few.

Receiving mentorship from a professional in an area that is critical to your company’s success such as startup marketing is a huge benefit and can avoid having to navigate these areas on your own.



Roles of Startup Mentors 


No matter what type of mentor you choose, there are various roles they can play in helping to launch, grow, and scale your business. 


5 Major Roles of a Mentor in a Startup 

  1. Guide – Navigated by their experience, they ensure startups are headed in the right direction.
  2. Brings Customer Perspective – Has knowledge of the current customer profile through research or expertise.
  3. Investor Relations – Helps gain access to startup investors, secure funds, and can help as a liaison once they have come onboard. 
  4. Teacher – Business mentors for startups often have skills that require training to learn. Examples could be training on a particular software or technology or it could be communication skills that will help with things like networking, public speaking, or communicating effectively with your team. 
  5. Sounding Board – Innovative ideas are what have made some of the best companies successful, but not all ideas will be successful on the market. It is a huge benefit to have a mentor act as a sounding board to listen to all of your ideas and provide constructive feedback.



How do mentors help startups?


Approximately 70% of mentored businesses survive five years which is more than double the rate of non-mentored companies. The reason for this is simple: startup mentors provide many benefits that prepare them to succeed in today’s market but also protect them from making big mistakes that could significantly hinder their company’s growth. 



5 Benefits of Startup Mentors 


  • Develop new skills and training

When you are first starting your business, you most likely do not have a large amount of cash available in your startup budget to spend on training workshops and seminars. Mentors possess a wide range of skills that you can learn from.


  • You don’t face challenges alone

Every startup no matter how brilliant or funded is at some point going to face challenges. Quite often as a new business owner, you will come across issues you have never dealt with before. 

Startup mentors have been where you are and have been up against a lot of adversity. They can provide invaluable advice and tips on how to navigate problems, and are there for support as you make your way through them.


  • Greater opportunities for growth

Learning from startup mentors provides you the opportunity to learn from the areas in which they have succeeded, and have had losses, and to learn how to make educated business decisions based on these experiences. In addition, mentors have the knowledge, skills, and connections to aid in your business’ overall growth.


  • Connections

Over many years as an entrepreneur, working in their industry, or refining their skill set, all startup mentors have formed connections with other professionals, investors, suppliers, and contractors and their introduction to these individuals can give you a foot in the door that you need.


  • Build Confidence

Launching and operating a startup business can be overwhelming and at times, nerve-racking. Having the guidance and support of an experienced mentor can boost your confidence as a business owner and provide reassurance that you are on the right path. 



How to choose the right startup mentor for your business


Thus far we have outlined the types of mentors, the roles they play, and their benefits, but how to choose the right mentor for your business is equally important. Aside from the obvious factors including their business experience, industry knowledge, and skillset, often these “on paper” qualifications are not enough. Just like not every qualified candidate for a job position is going to be a good fit, neither are mentors. 

It all comes down to characteristics. 


Characteristics of a strong mentor


  • Has good chemistry with you

Sometimes how or if you bond with a person is the deciding factor. If your relationship seems forced, you will not feel comfortable approaching them regularly with concerns.


  • Makes themselves available

A good startup mentor should not be difficult to connect with. Depending on the needs of your business and what stage you are in, scheduling regular meetings or phone calls would be the best scenario. This way, you can bring any items you want to discuss with your mentor to your regularly scheduled meetings rather than emailing or calling every time you need their advice or input.


  • A good listener

Receiving advice, being told stories, and learning new skills is fantastic, but sometimes you need someone who will actively listen to you and provide their thoughts.


  • Positive attitude

Encouragement and keeping a positive attitude go a long way. As experienced and knowledgeable as a mentor may be, if they are always negative and shutting down your ideas this will not benefit you or your startup.


  • Honesty

Being “too nice” also exists, and this is not good either. There is a tactful way mentors can tell you your idea is not strong or there are issues with your business plan. If you are about to make a poor decision or your idea poses some serious red flags, you want a mentor who is not afraid to constructively point out problems.



How to find a startup mentor for your business


  • Networking events

Attending local events, tradeshows, conferences, and workshops geared toward the business community or your specific industry is a fantastic way to find mentors for startups. Have a casual yet polished business pitch ready so you can convey the essence of your business clearly to many people.


  • Online business platforms

There are great digital platforms that present opportunities to not only connect with mentors in your local region but across the world. Platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter are used heavily by business professionals and are great places to begin building connections.


  • Startup Incubators

Startup incubators offer mentorship, programming, workshops, and networking opportunities that heavily increase the success rate of their clients. In fact, using a startup incubator increases a company’s survival rate to 87%. 

Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas, a startup incubator that supports technology and innovation-driven companies, is located between Toronto and Ottawa and is led by Innovation Specialists who are seasoned entrepreneurs that are passionate about being a tech startup mentor.  To learn more and apply, visit

Startup Incubator: What does it do and how does it help?

Startup Incubator: What does it do and how does it help?

If the last two years have taught us anything, it is how quickly our lives can change. Pandemic-inflicted challenges such as business closures, layoffs, and large shifts to remote work caused people to think outside-the-box, which for many involved starting a business with the support of a startup incubator.

This wave of new startup businesses stemmed from people’s need to explore income-generating alternatives, while others finally decided to turn their passions or innovative ideas into full-time business ventures.

Across Canada, COVID-19 fueled unprecedented levels of innovation and entrepreneurship which led to the creation of two million startup businesses nationwide.

But if following your passions and becoming your own boss is the ultimate achievement, why aren’t even more people jumping on the bandwagon?

The reality is 50% of small businesses won’t survive longer than five years.

This is a daunting Everest climb for many to attempt. Looming fears of failure, not having the necessary business skills and experience, and having inadequate funding are the scary challenges that keep many aspiring entrepreneurs at the foot of the mountain.


Using a Startup Incubator Significantly Increases a Company’s Survival Rate


The good news is that entrepreneurs from all over the world who once had minimal business experience or capital now operate successful companies due to the mentorship and support they received from a startup incubator.

In fact, using a startup incubator increases a company’s survival rate to 87%.

You may be asking:

  • What is a startup incubator?
  • What services do incubators provide?
  • How do incubators help startups?
  • What benefits should incubators provide?
  • How do I choose the best startup incubator for my business?

Becoming educated on what an incubator does and how it can help is arguably the most important research you can do to build a solid foundation for your business to succeed.

Let’s start with the basics.



What is a Startup Incubator?


Startup incubators are organizations designed to nurture early-stage startups by providing business mentorship, professional training, networking opportunities, connections to funding, and other resources so they can grow and scale into solid and viable businesses.

Every incubator is different, ranging in size, areas of focus, and expertise. These core differences may include:


Focused primarily on funding        vs.          Focused primarily on mentorship

Industry-specific                              vs.          Generalized clientele

Centrally-located                            vs.          Online-only


Later on, we will explore choosing the best startup incubator for your business. But no matter which type of incubator is right for you, the overall importance of business incubators has been proven to be king.

Many startups outside of these programs don’t make it, and the vast majority of those supported by incubators end up with thriving businesses due to its services.


What services do incubators provide?


With a wide range of startup incubators, the services provided to entrepreneurs will vary between organizations.

However, incubators that are client-centric and genuinely invest in the success of its clients offer more dynamic and comprehensive programming and services.

These services include (but are not limited to):


  • Business mentorship and coaching

Coaches and advisors are respected business professionals with industry-specific expertise.


  • Training seminars and workshops

Sessions offered to startups are relevant, in-demand, and led by credible experts on the topic.


  • Incubation centre or hub

A centrally-located incubator that offers clients the option to utilize collaborative workspaces and conference rooms that foster an environment of inter-startup networking.*


* Due to COVID-19, many centrally-located incubators temporarily transitioned to online services. With mandates and restrictions now being lifted, many are returning to in-person mentorship or hybrid models.

  • Access to valuable software and technology

Clients are provided with free access to tools such as CRMs, expensive equipment, and software.


  • Networking opportunities and events

Organized events for clients to meet professionals, industry leaders, investors, and other entrepreneurs in the community.


Collaborative workshops or areas where clients can build products, share ideas, and have access to cutting-edge technology and other tools.


  • Provide knowledge about the latest funding opportunities

Mentors advise clients on all up-to-date government grants, loans, and other access to funding.


  • Strong relationships with Angel Investors

Can make introductions and connections between startup clients and investors.


  • Coaching on investment pitch techniques

Mentors with investor experience teach startups the necessary skills to onboard investors.

How do incubators help startups?


Before diving into how incubators help, we must first identify the biggest challenges startups face and the elements that lead to failure.

As a startup business owner and entrepreneur, these elements can be detrimental to your business’s success and much harder to navigate without a startup incubator’s support, knowledge, and resources.


Top 4 Elements that Lead to Startup Failure:


  1. Limited Product Testing


Your product or service may be unique and innovative. Still, until thorough and substantial testing is conducted you will not know how viable it will be in the market, what issues may need to be fixed, or features that are necessary to add.

Gathering insight towards entry barriers in your distinct industry, along with the specific needs and wants of your desired consumer base, is essential when developing the beginning stages of a successful business plan.

This invaluable knowledge-base will serve as the basis for all future brand decisions, and will assist you in sculpting a business strategy that is custom-tailored to your target audience.


  1. Team Conflict

Having healthy and constructive discussions, debates, or even disagreements within your startup’s team is common and often produces the greatest ideas. However, there must always be a maintained cohesiveness amongst your core team.

A startup that is aligned on the company’s direction and made up by a team with complementing skill-sets will considerably affect productivity and general workplace positivity within your organization.

A successful team must work harmonically to propel the business forward with each member understanding the value of their colleagues and how their unique abilities aid the growth of the brand.


  1. Lack of Passion, Resilience, and Determination

Having passion, resilience, and overall determination sets successful entrepreneurs apart from unsuccessful ones. No matter how viable a product or business plan is, every startup will at some point be faced with some form of adversity.

Successful entrepreneurs learn to problem-solve and push through more challenging times because of their passion and belief in their business.


  1. Greed

Greed is regularly responsible for dismantling young brands. Often pushed by a company’s founding members, personnel can be pitted against one another due to conflicting ideals for nothing more than financial gain and peer recognition.

Consumers typically respond positively to a generous attitude because such practices exhibit a genuine and relatable brand image that prompts product loyalty amongst your user base.


How do startup incubators help overcome these challenges?


Client-centric incubators offer an extensive suite of services designed specifically to overcome the common challenges and barriers that early-stage companies face.

These reputable and top-tier incubators assist with:


Product and consumer testing

By utilizing resources such as mentorship from experienced industry professionals and leading business support applications, incubators supply startup clients with the necessary tools to perfect their products and services.


Fostering a positive, inclusive, and collaborative environment

Effective incubators are designed for all clients to flourish within its entrepreneurial landscape to minimize the chance of conflict within startups’ personnel. Startups work alongside each other in the incubator program, a proven method to help young companies succeed.


Surrounding your startup with same-stage businesses

It is sometimes easy to default to a ‘giving up’ mentality when trying to lift your startup off the ground. In an incubator made up of entrepreneurs, everyone is enduring the exact same trials and tribulations creating a tight-knit community. This form of support is invaluable and keeps everyone determined and passionate about their purpose.


Building problem-solving techniques

Circumstances of greed within a startup can be avoided by providing clients with problem-solving techniques. Established mentors, advisors, and business partners within the incubator’s network enhance a startup’s professional skills to keep your brand on track and maintain a company that appears genuine to consumers.


Helping to overcome the most common and damaging elements that lead to startup failure is, of course, vital for startup incubators to provide. Still, this alone should not be the only criteria you look for when choosing an incubator for your business.

You do not merely want your startup business to avoid or overcome challenges; you want it to thrive, grow, and succeed.

You must look beyond and analyze all of the benefits and perks that a startup incubator offers over others.


What benefits should incubators provide?


Every incubator is different and unique. For this reason, you want to make sure you choose an incubator that will offer the most significant value to your business.

We recommend only considering incubators that offer a full suite of benefits that will equip you with the greatest number of tools, resources, networking, and training to bring overall success to your business.



Top 8 Benefits to Look for in a Startup Incubator


  1. Collaborative Workspace

Having the option to participate in an open-concept office or workspace provides endless, invaluable benefits to your startup business. These environments have proven to foster the most significant levels of brainstorming, networking amongst entrepreneurs, and innovation.

Many incubators also provide access to private boardrooms to book meetings with your team, potential investors, customers, or vendors. Having a workspace and private areas included as an incubator client alleviates high overhead costs for your business.

Over the past two years, startup incubators that typically operate out of a central location have had to transition to online services due to the pandemic. However, as mandates and regulations begin to ease, incubators are reopening its workspaces and offering hybrid in-person and online mentorship.

  1. Decreases Costs for your Business

Joining a startup incubator should help reduce your costs of launching and operating your business by 40-50%.

Incubators that offer office space, boardrooms, high-speed wifi, makerspaces, events, workshops, networking opportunities, and access to software and technologies offer ENORMOUS value for your startup.

These inclusions and opportunities are big expenses for an early-stage startup, and are substantial perks to launch and grow your business.


  1. Access to Extensive Funding and Investment Opportunities

One of the greatest benefits of an incubator is helping startups get funding. They are a gateway to accessing funding opportunities that would otherwise be confusing or difficult to navigate on your own. In Canada, startups have many avenues and ways to acquire funding, and understanding these funding opportunities is essential for any startup.


Funding opportunities startup incubators can help you with:


a) Federal Government Grants and Provincial Government Grants


Startups and small businesses across Canada have access to federal and provincial grants, notably a very long list of opportunities offered by the Province of Ontario. Although these grant descriptions and applications are available for public viewing, they can be overwhelming. Startup incubators have the experience to help you comprehend all opportunities, which ones apply to your business, and what approach you should take to have a higher chance of your grant application being accepted.


b) Introductions and connections to investors


Networking with investment firms and angel investors is a large piece of acquiring capital to build and grow your startup business. However, with millions of people launching startups that require substantial funding, it isn’t easy to get in front of the right investors without a solid introduction.

Many startup incubators have strong relationships with local investors. Having an incubator vouch for your product and business viability is often the ticket you need to get in the door.


c) Crafting a Memorable and Effective Investor Pitch

 Once the introduction has been made, and the meeting has been scheduled, you now have to prepare a pitch for an investment opportunity they cannot refuse. Delivering a solid pitch can mean the difference between your startup continuing its growth or remaining stagnant.

But how do you do this? Where do you start?

Startup incubators with knowledgeable and experienced advisors can coach you on the best strategies to build an effective investor pitch.


  1. Ability to Focus On the Core of Your Business


Startup incubators that provide huge benefits such as workspaces, alleviating overhead costs, and access to funding allow you to focus on what matters most – your core business product.

While taking care of administrative and funding-related matters are essential, ensuring your product is ready for market is absolutely paramount. Incubators allow you to focus your time and energy on creating, evolving, and testing your product.


  1. Access To “Mover And Shaker” Networking


Having access to “mover and shaker” networks—being able to tap into a strong network of business partners and investors—allows your startup to network productively. A startup incubator that offers high-quality networking should be a ‘must-have’ when researching which organization is right for your business.


  1. Public Relations and Marketing


You may get to the point with your business when you have a solid product, extensive testing under your belt, and even healthy capital to support your growth. But if your target consumer has never heard of your brand, nor do they identify with it, you will not have any customers or revenue.

Full-service incubators provide assistance and coaching on PR and marketing strategies which are critical areas every startup business owner should prioritize. Incubators also tend to have large groups of businesses and investors that follow its digital presence. Therefore, incubators can help promote its clients’ successes through newsletters, websites, and social media platforms.


  1. Support from Well-Known and Respected Business Mentors


An influential business incubator has a network of well-known and respected business professionals that entrepreneurs can learn from in real ways. Mentors are often active business owners who can share their first-hand experiences and the mistakes they have made to enrich the knowledge of incubator clients.

Often these mentors have endless connections across the business community which can help you access a variety of people and services in marketing, accounting, presentation skills, legal guidance, insurance, finance, human resources and much more.


  1. Access to Workshops, Events, and Business Training


Choosing a startup incubator that holds various workshops, events, and business training will prove to be a massive benefit for your business. These inclusions are how you can organically network with business leaders, investors, and other entrepreneurs while building your professional skills and knowledge.

How do I choose the best startup incubator for my business?


Your product or service is unique, so choosing a startup incubator should not be an impulsive decision.

No two incubators are identical in services offered or areas of expertise, so we recommend researching to determine which organization will be the right fit for you.

In addition to considering an incubator’s benefits and how they will help your business, as listed above, there are other significant considerations to take into account when picking a startup incubator.



Location of Your Startup: What factors should you consider?


A considerable portion of your research should include the best place for your startup to succeed. Consider the following questions.


What country or region leads in my industry?

Where is there significant growth and funding available in my sector?

Is there government funding available in the locations I am considering?

Is being in a large city necessary to achieve my business goals, or would a more rural location be a better fit?


Why is Canada a popular location for startups?


Many of the best startup incubators in the world are located in Canada due to:

  • Large funding opportunities
  • High-quality of life
  • Close access to U.S. markets
  • Being immigration-friendly
  • Substantial growth across the technology industry


Growing Canadian Tech Market


Canada is home to some of the world’s most sought-after tech startup incubators because of the country’s immense support and the abundance of natural resources to support the agtech and cleantech sectors.

Cleantech will be one of Canada’s top five exporting industries by 2025, with $20 billion annually in exports—nearly triple the current value.

Other technology sectors experiencing a surge are digital and healthcare, especially after the two years of strain that COVID-19 placed on Canadians and its public healthcare systems.


Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas: The Ideal Incubator for Tech Startups


With two locations nestled in one of Ontario, Canada’s most desirable regions, Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas ticks all of the ‘must-have’ boxes for a startup incubator.

The Innovation Cluster offers a full-service incubation program focused on growing technology-driven companies. It provides collaborative workspaces, workshops, events, one-on-one mentorship, training, access to funding, networking opportunities, and more.

The Innovation Cluster is located 1.5 hours from Toronto and 3 hours from Ottawa, providing entrepreneurs with the best of both worlds: Rural community life with quick access to Canada’s booming city centres.

Being a rural startup incubator allows clients to access funding opportunities and receive one-on-one support often unavailable to startups residing in large metropolis centres.

The Innovation Cluster not only can support entrepreneurs in the Peterborough and Kawarthas region, but also international startups through its Startup Visa Program accredited by the Canadian Federal Government.

What truly sets the Innovation Cluster apart from other incubators is not only its ability to provide all clients with high-level expertise, services, resources, and an extensive entrepreneurial network.

What stands out is the organization’s prioritization of providing individual, high-quality mentorship to every client, and this is in our opinion is the most valuable attribute you can find in a startup incubator.

Learn more about the Innovation Cluster and apply online by visiting



Peterborough Ranked the Best Place for Watertech Startups to Thrive in Ontario by Water Canada

Peterborough Ranked the Best Place for Watertech Startups to Thrive in Ontario by Water Canada

Peterborough, Ontario has been ranked first place in Ontario and second in Canada (Sherbrooke, Quebec listed at number one) for a watertech startup to thrive, as listed in the most recent issue of Water Canada Magazine.

What makes Peterborough the place to be is the abundance of resources including the Innovation Cluster, Peterborough Region Angel Network, VentureNorth, Trent University and its Trent Makerspace and coming Cleantech Commons, Fleming College’s Centre for Advancement of Water and Wastewater Technologies, Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development, all supporting startups in the cleantech sector. The collaboration of these resources makes the region one of the top places in Canada for companies to receive individual high-class support on a global scale.

“The Innovation Cluster staff and client companies have worked tirelessly to set our region apart as a watertech hub and is proud to compass a prominent role in providing cleantech support through company mentorship and acceleration,” says Michael Skinner, President & CEO of the Innovation Cluster. “We have helped push multiple startups to market success and are excited to see that Canada is beginning to take notice.”

Water Canada noted the previous cleantech companies that have thrived in the Peterborough area, including Aclarus, ozone water treatment systems, Noblegen, a lab space that produces sustainable proteins for a large scope of products, and Rainmaker Worldwide, a company that has gone worldwide with its innovative systems that turn air vapour into potable water.
The feature references the affordability of living with the median cost for a four-bedroom house at $329,000, one of the province’s shortest average commute times, a close-knit business community and being surrounded by bodies of water as just a few of the factors that led to the decision. Water Canada Magazine boasts that Peterborough also holds the highest percentage of immigrant entrepreneurs in Canada.

“The Kawarthas’ comes from the Anishinaabe word meaning ‘the land of shining waters’,” says John Gillis, Cleantech Innovation Specialist at the Innovation Cluster. “We’ve got the Trent-Severn Waterway here, 151 lakes, and countless rivers, which makes it the perfect place for the cleantech sector to thrive.”
You can download the magazine here.

The Top Four Elements That Lead to Startup Failure and How The Innovation Cluster Can Help

The Top Four Elements That Lead to Startup Failure and How The Innovation Cluster Can Help

Becoming a first time business owner can be an immensely challenging and intimidating experience but when you begin to understand what separates a prosperous brand from its ineffective rivals, the required steps become much more transparent. In the following article you will find the top four elements that lead to startup failures according to fourteen global business accelerators.

1: Insufficient Testing

You cannot truly understand the validity of your unique product or service if you do not execute substantial testing. Gathering insight towards barriers of entry in your distinct industry, along with the specific needs and wants of your desired consumer base is essential when developing the beginning stages of a successful business plan. This invaluable knowledge-base will serve as the basis for all future brand decisions, and will assist you in sculpting a business strategy that is custom-tailored to your target audience.
The Innovation Cluster’s incubator The Cube offers a wide variety of services in relation to both product and consumer testing. Utilizing various resources including experienced industry professionals, leading business support applications, and guidance from Innovation Specialists and community partners supply our startup clients with the tools to perfect their products and services.

2: Internal Personnel Conflict

Maintaining the cohesiveness of your businesses core team-base is a vital piece of the overall brand blueprint that will considerably affect productivity and general workplace positivity within your organization. A successful team must possess complimenting skill-sets that work harmonically to propel the business forward with each member understanding the value of their colleagues and how their unique abilities aid the growth of the brand.
The Innovation Cluster provides you with a positive, inclusive, and collaborative environment to flourish your brand into an influential member of the entrepreneurial landscape. Startups work alongside each other in the incubator which is a proven method to help build each other up. While incubated, startups also have the guaranteed support from the business community to set you on the best path to gain the most impactful connections.

3. Lacking Tenacity 

“I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance. Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you’re not going to survive. You’re going to give it up. So you’ve got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you’re passionate about; otherwise, you’re not going to have the perseverance to stick it through.”

This quote of one of today’s most influential entrepreneurial voices, the late Steve Jobs, illustrates the immense importance of resilience and overall determination in the will of an entrepreneur. The long and trying journey of a small-business will be littered with both minor and more substantial failures that entrepreneurs must learn to control and use to their advantage if they wish to thrive in this competitive landscape.
How could an incubator shift the mindset of an uncertain entrepreneur? Being a part of a larger organization surrounded by a peer-group who are enduring the exact same trials and tribulations you and your brand experience on a daily basis is a priceless asset that can help alleviate at least a small portion of the anxiety associated with being a new business owner.

4. Greed

Often originating from founding members, greed is regularly responsible for dismantling young brands by pitting members with conflicting ideals against one another for nothing more than financial gain and peer recognition. Furthermore, consumers generally respond positively to a generous attitude due to the fact that such practices exhibit a genuine, and relatable brand-image that prompts product loyalty amongst your user base.
The Innovation Cluster helps avoid these unfortunate circumstances by providing startup clients with problem solving techniques instructed by established business partners via various events and Hands-ON workshops, each specializing in enhancing business skills.

Avoiding these barriers are only a few of the reasons to join a startup incubator like The Cube, that offers resources and support networks to its startup clients.

Interested in becoming an Innovation Cluster client?

Apply Now!


Startups, How Bad Do You Want It?

Startups, How Bad Do You Want It?

Let us help you shape the future with your business innovation – APPLY NOW

Thank you to our Knowledge Partner Birchbark Media for filming this incredible video!

Visit Birchbark Media today.

Incubators are the Gateway to Angel Investment 💸

Incubators are the Gateway to Angel Investment 💸

angel investment 4
You’ve perfected your business plan, have your product prototype, and have successfully tested the market. Now, your ready for some investment to take your innovative business to the next level!

But wait. . .how?

You have about 10 – 20 minutes standing in front of Angel Investors and if you pitch right, your business may just have the chance of a lifetime to scale high.

Being a client at the Innovation Cluster provides a lot of perks. You are working steps away from staff who are ready to help you with any situation, one of them being your helpers in preparing for pitching to investors – call us gatekeepers, if you will!

Did you know that the Peterborough Region Angel Network is one of our Industry Partners? The Angels know how important it is for a startup to work with an incubator before pitching to angel investors. Therefore, anyone who is interested in pitching to the Peterborough Region Angel Network must come to the Innovation Cluster first!

The staff at the Cluster have helped many clients perfect their pitch and make sure their business is ready for the stand.

Here are 7 things to keep in mind as you prepare for pitching to the Angels. . .

    What accomplishments have you had so far? Investors want to know how you’ve gotten to this point, and the issues you’ve surpassed graph stock phototrying to build your business. Do you already have clients on board? Do you have an online following begging for your product to be public? These achievements are important, and can help identify what the future of your business will look like if given an investment opportunity.
    What business going into an investment pitch isn’t innovative and needed in today’s world? Although it’s important to get across the need for the product, you want your pitch to be told in a way that the product’s self-worth is showed naturally, rather than being preached about. You started this business because you know how important it is to exist, so find a way to convey that to the angel investors so they feel the same way.
    Claiming your business rises above the rest isn’t only naive, it’s untrue. There will always be competition and people working to be better than your business, watching your every move. So instead of “being the best”, be different. Figure out what your quirk is and run with it to sell how your business has more potential than the rest.
    Every business has their vulnerabilities, recognize them. What are your threats, and what could go wrong? Once you know what they are, be prepared to answer how you can work around them so your business won’t fall. Having this worked out and are able to answer as soon as a potential investor asks, will show you are prepared for any challenge.
    Think back to your past successes and failures. Use them to prepare for future challenges and create a step-by-step plan to grow your business. Not everything goes as planned as an entrepreneur that often, but setting yourself milestones will give investors confidence in supporting your next steps in the plan.
    The team dynamic is extremely important to investors during a pitch, because it’s just as important for businesses growth. If you angel investment 6don’t have a team, you can’t be a one-man-show forever if you want your startup to expand. So whether you’re going into the pitch as a team or as an individual, you’ll need to be able to show investors how you’ll continue to attract talented, innovative and skilled people to your business, so your startup will continue to thrive. Remember – collaboration = innovation.
    This may be the most important one. Angels want to know their investment is being put into the best use possible and that they are able to make a return. You’re product is innovative, it’s needed, and it’s possible, so what do you say now to cross that line into investment? Here’s the secret: The angels want specifics to where their money is going, so by preparing with this checklist, you should know exactly what you’ll do with it. If you want people to invest money into the future of your business, you must be able to know every detail of how you want that future to look.

Are you a client of the Innovation Cluster?: If you think you are ready for pitching to the Angels, you’ll need to come to us first. This list is the foundation of preparing for your pitch, but there’s always more to be done. And as an entrepreneur, we know you’re used to that. So stop by our office and we’ll help you prepare for the best pitch the angels have ever heard! 😎

Have a company and want to join the network of entrepreneurs in the Innovation Cluster? APPLY TODAY

What the Innovation Cluster Looks for in a Start-Up

What the Innovation Cluster Looks for in a Start-Up

When an entrepreneur becomes a client with the Innovation Cluster, it all starts with an initial business idea. From there, the Cluster works with those start-ups to form a business model out of that idea, and work towards creating a successful company.
what we look for in a start-up
From our past client success stories, we know innovative ideas hold so much potential, which is why we make sure they are put into action the right way.
In our space, entrepreneurs are given the support and guidance needed to know how to form their innovative ideas into a real business model to make things happen.
If you’re thinking about starting your own company, and becoming a part of the Innovation Cluster, here is a list of 5 things we look for in a start-up that wants to put their idea to the test:


Don’t throw out the drawing board anytime soon. Even when something becomes successful, advancements are still made. There’s going to be alterations, and sometimes the original idea becomes a whole new concept. Don’t let the changes cause doubt, it just means you’re getting another step closer to success.
With the Cluster, learn how to focus on what’s important about your company and what you really want to achieve. You don’t have to have every detail perfect going in, but you do have to be motivated to make it better every day.


It will start the stepping-stone of getting your name out and how much people actually like your idea. Pitch your idea to your family, friends, and the neighbor who walks his dog down the street every day. It will help you form an idea about who is interested in your product, what’s appealing about your idea, and what’s not, for when you work on your business model.


A website, logo, or social media platform shows that your idea is not only real, it shows that it’s happening. An idea will sound interesting for a moment, but marketing shows it’s here to stay, and will only get better. At the Cluster, we will give you the tools needed to build your business model and create a marketing strategy.


Whatever your business idea is, creating connections with established and start-up companies is beneficial to making your own business successful.
At the Cluster, you will be surrounded by a strong network of business partners and investors. They will be available for guidance about media, marketing, legal and more!
To learn more, visit our knowledge partners page.


It doesn’t sound appealing, but the more you find out what’s not working with your business model, the closer you get to knowing what does.
In our space, you will be part of a support system of other start-ups at the Cluster while you go through the challenges of being a new entrepreneur. Mistakes need to happen in order to find out what does work for you. Together, entrepreneurs at the Cluster will learn how to improve their business models through those mistakes and lead one another to success.
If you want to put your business idea into action, you can contact us by clicking the Become a Client button at the top of this page!
And for more inspiration, check out some of our clients who have already put their business to the test, in our Clients and Tenants page.

10 Benefits of Using a Business Incubator for Start-up Companies: Brought to you by the Innovation Cluster

10 Benefits of Using a Business Incubator for Start-up Companies: Brought to you by the Innovation Cluster

In 2010, Canada had over 100 operating business incubators. In these incubators 900 client firms raised revenues in excess of $93 million while creating full and part-time employment for over 13,000 people.
The Innovation Cluster provides start-up companies with the tools, executive mentorship and operational support to be successful. The Cube, operated by the Innovation Cluster, is Peterborough & the Kawarthas first and only full service incubator and accelerator.


The Innovation Cluster provides start-up companies with open concept office space with all of the necessary office supplies to get your business up and running. Having office space to be able to run your business is extremely important in the success of any business.


Business Incubators can help reduce the costs of launching and operating a startup by 40-50%. The Innovation Cluster provides start-up companies with open concept office space and internet access for little to no charge; renting office space can be one of the largest expenses for any business.


The Innovation Cluster offers clients access to more funding opportunities from many different outlets. Our staff is educated and equipped to help find funding opportunities and help clients apply for them. Additionally, the Innovation Cluster allows businesses to meet potential private investors from within the Peterborough community via our partners at the Peterborough Region Angel Network.
Fun fact: an estimated 40% of investment-seeking member companies source investment through a direct incubator program connections.



Having this business infrastructure in place and available and providing business services and experts allows for the startup to focus on what matters most – the core business product. Start-ups can then focus their time and energy on creating, evolving and testing their products.


Having access to “mover and shaker” networks—being able to tap into a strong network of business partners and investors allows for start-up businesses to network and network productively. The Innovation Cluster is very involved within the Peterborough community and beyond! Just check out our Knowledge Partners.

  1. PR and Marketing HELP

Being a part of a group of companies helps gain traction and step into the spotlight—the Innovation Cluster and FastStart have a strong following. Start-up companies are able to reap the benefits of being promoted by the organization, not to mention expert PR and marketing advice for their brands.



The Innovation Cluster’s incubator and accelerator, known as The Cube, is home to many start-ups. Being part of a support system where you can learn from each others mistakes and triumphs allows you to better succeed and creates bonds and friendships that are ever-lasting.


Our mentors have been successful entrepreneurs therefore you can learn and hear first hand about their personal experience and learn the do’s and don’ts. Knowledge Partners help with business basics including; marketing, accounting, presentation skills, legal guidance, insurance, finance, human resources and the list goes on.


Through the Innovation Cluster’s resources and staff you are able to get hands-on training and knowledge from some of the best minds in the Peterborough area.


The five year survival rate for incubator clients has been reported from 75% to as high as 87%. So in conclusion…come to us…we’re the best in the business!

Above are just 10 benefits of using Business Incubators. If you would like more information on Business Incubators or how you can be involved with the Innovation Cluster, check out how you can become a client! 

Is Incubating right for your Startup?

Is Incubating right for your Startup?

What’s the better path to success–to be part of a group or go at it alone? For many entrepreneurs in the tech space, being part of something larger has helped them get their businesses off the ground more quickly and smoothly. Ultimately, an incubator [such as the Innovation Cluster’s “The Cube“] can be the perfect bridge to making the big step from idea to execution. Here are four key reasons an incubator might be the best move for you and your business ideas:
1. Fewer mundane tasks, more product development.
Incubators are taking root across the world, offering startups guidance and resources. In essence, incubators are home to angel investors, venture capitalists, and others who are able to mentor entrepreneurs. Many also offer tangible resources such as accounting assistance, office space, and legal guidance.
Having this business infrastructure in place allows your startup to focus on what matters most–the core business, not the mundane, day-to-day administrative responsibilities.
As a member of a specialized incubator myself, I’ve reaped many benefits. My company is a spinoff of two European online advertising agencies, and we’re both part of the same business accelerator. (A note on accelerators vs. incubators: Although incubators and accelerators both help businesses grow, incubators assist companies in their infancy, whereas accelerators guide organizations through future expansion and development.)
One of the biggest benefits of being part of an incubator is the ability to tap into a strong network of business partners. In my case, I can say with certainty that several of our current media and tech partners wouldn’t have worked with us if we had just been out there on our own. Some required large financial commitments, while others considered it too risky to work with a one-month-old startup. But we were able to overcome those obstacles because we were part of an incubator.
Imagine being part of a support system that allowed you to learn from the mistakes of others before you made them yourself.
A powerhouse network can also be beneficial from a public relations perspective. There is only so much you can do as a startup with a limited marketing and PR budget, but, for us, being part of a group of companies has helped us gain traction and step into the spotlight. This, in turn, has also strengthened our ability to scout leads and opportunities.
As a technology company, it is important for us to frequently release new analytics and optimization capabilities. It’s even more important that we learn from client feedback to make our platform better. Our direct access to two other agencies within our accelerator has proved to be extremely beneficial and enabled us to do more aggressive product development and rigorous testing–something that would have been more difficult and time consuming if not for the incubator.
There are a lot of lessons entrepreneurs have to learn the hard way. Making errors and learning from mistakes is a valuable learning experience, but imagine being part of a support system that allowed you to learn from the mistakes of others before you made them yourself.
Our mentors have been entrepreneurs themselves and, as such, have been able to challenge and help further define our vision, strategy, and road map. They weren’t able to do this because of a business school degree earned at an Ivy League school, but thanks to their personal experiences in the trenches.
Being part of an incubator or accelerator can play a huge role in growing your startup. In our case, it has jump-started our company and brought us where we are today. We are now in the position to fly solo, yet we know we didn’t get here alone. The value that our mentors have brought us has been instrumental to our success, and we look forward to helping other new startups succeed in the future.
Matthijs Keij is the co-founder and CEO of FlxOne, and previously co-founded Fresh Fruit Digital. He seeks to bridge the gap between technology and marketing, build a team with smart people, and enjoy the startup vibe and growth opportunity. Click to read the original article from FastCompany here!
More About Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster
The Greater Peterborough Innovation Cluster is a not-for-profit organization with a mission to strengthen Peterborough’s regional innovation capacity by bridging the gap between scientific research and business. The Cluster brings Together talent, knowledge, and investment to drive technology-based economic development, innovation-driven economic growth and high-tech job creation across the Peterborough region by supporting entrepreneurship, innovation, commercialization and new company formation & growth [see “The Cube” for further information on how we help start-ups]. The Cluster also partners with academia and industry and provides support to start-up technology companies and entrepreneurs to help take innovative ideas and processes to market and to foster an economy fueled by 21st century innovation-driven entrepreneurship. Core funding for the Cluster is generously provided by our partners: Ontario Centres of ExcellenceTrent UniversityFleming College and the Peterborough Region Angel Network.
Follow us: on Twitter: @InnovationPtbo; on Facebook:; and on our LinkedIn GroupGreater Peterborough Innovation Cluster.
See alsoDemystifying the Innovation Cluster: It’s no big mystery – it’s a cluster and it exists to assist

Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas uses cookies to improve the navigation of our uses. By closing this message you accept our cookie policy.