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!

Start-up Visa Program Canada: Why you should apply today

Start-up Visa Program Canada: Why you should apply today

1. What is the Start-up Visa Program?

Our startup visa program is expertly designed to support international entrepreneurs who wish to bring and grow their startup businesses in Canada. 

We start with a virtual 3-month Accelerator where you learn how to launch, operate and grow a successful business in Canada.

Once you’re in Canada, our warm and welcoming environment helps international entrepreneurs successfully build their businesses and explore the potential of rural Canada. 

We strive to ensure that startups have a solid foundation for growth, with access to resources and connections to help them thrive in our community and ecosystem.


2. How to apply for the Start-up Visa Program

To apply for the Start-up Visa Program at the Innovation Cluster, business owners should first complete our application. We will assess your application and provide guidance for any further information we may need. Please reach out to us with any questions, we are happy to support you throughout the application process.


3. Benefits of the Start-up Visa Program

By participating in our Start-up Visa Program, business owners can gain access to a range of business resources and support. Our program provides entrepreneurs with the chance to develop their startups with guidance from experienced mentors and access to professional networks, which can help them in growing their businesses. With our guidance, entrepreneurs can make sure they’re more likely to gain permanent residence and build successful businesses in Canada. 

The deadline for applications is fast approaching – don’t miss this great opportunity!  Apply now and get started on your dream of bringing and growing your business in Canada.


3. Requirements for the Start-up Visa Program

In order to be eligible for this business incubator program, the Canadian government requires that you have a qualifying business, meet the language requirements, and bring enough money to settle. You will also need to obtain a letter of support from us in order to move forward with your application. Don’t worry, our team of experts is here to help you every step of the way. We want to see you succeed, and we know that with the right support, you can achieve anything.


Why apply to the Start-up Visa Program at the Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas?

The Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas is a welcoming environment and not like the big city tech hubs. We understand that it can be daunting for business owners to move their businesses to Canada. Our business incubator is more personalized, providing founders with the tools they need to succeed in a unique business community. Our business incubator team is committed to helping business entrepreneurs stay on track with their business plans and achieve success in Canada.

We are one of the few rural business incubators in Canada to offer the Start-up Visa Program

We pride ourselves on being a business incubator in a rural environment. We recognize that people need to be able to achieve a balance between work and life commitments. Our start-up visa program allows business entrepreneurs to create a business plan that works for them and their lifestyle. They receive ongoing guidance from our business incubator team in a beautiful rural setting, amidst forests and lakes. With flexible hours, entrepreneurs can make sure they’re able to balance business goals with personal obligations.

Last call for 2022 – Apply today!

This is your final call to apply to our Startup Visa Program. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to have business expertise and access to business networks in beautiful rural Canada. Take advantage of our unique business incubator and start your journey toward business success.  Apply now. We look forward to having you join us!


By Camila Duarte, Senior Innovation Specialist, and Startup Visa Program Manager

Entrepreneur Immigration to Canada: How to Do it and Where to Go

Entrepreneur Immigration to Canada: How to Do it and Where to Go

Canada is one of the top choices for immigration amongst international entrepreneurs, and for good reason. In 2021, small businesses made up more than 98 percent of all employer businesses in Canada—that is a whole lot of entrepreneur-led companies. Between the country’s rapidly growing technology sectors and the government’s support for immigrant entrepreneurs, Canada is the place to grow innovative startup businesses into thriving companies. 

But how do you start the process of moving to Canada? Where in Canada is the best place to live and grow your business? We have provided the building blocks to begin your journey as a successful business owner in Canada.


How do you immigrate to Canada as an Entrepreneur?


The Government of Canada offers a Start-Up Visa Program (“SUV”) for immigrant entrepreneurs, providing the opportunity to gain permanent residence in the country. The program is designed to attract entrepreneurs from around the globe to move to Canada to grow their innovative businesses, bringing diverse skills, job creation, and global competitiveness.

Basic eligibility requirements for SUV include having a qualifying business, a letter of support from a designated organization, sufficient and available funds, and entrepreneurs must be proficient in English or French.

Learning more about SUV’s program requirements and other details such as what is considered a qualifying business, the associated costs, and how to apply is a great way to begin planning for relocation.


Where is the best place in Canada for immigrant entrepreneurs?


Canada is the second largest country on Earth, with varying landscapes, cultures, industries, and cities across the nation. Every region of Canada has its own charm and advantages, but it is important to consider where you will most enjoy living and where your business will be most successful.


Living and Business Success in Canada: Rural vs. City


You may be familiar with Canada’s major cities such as Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto, but the majority of Canada is made up of rural communities. 

As an entrepreneur trying to grow a business in a new country, choosing a balance between rural and city is the best way to immerse yourself in life in Canada.

Living in a smaller, quieter town close to a large metropolis gives you the best of both worlds: You can enjoy idyllic lakes and landscapes, and belong to a tight-knit community while remaining a short drive from business opportunities that a large city can offer. 

Building your business in a rural community also has the advantage of generally having fewer competitors, whereas in a large city it is likely that there will be many competing businesses offering similar products and services.


Peterborough and the Kawarthas: Ideal Community for Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Canada


In the province of Ontario, located a 1.5-hour drive east of Toronto and close to the U.S. border, is the region of Peterborough and the Kawarthas. Surrounded by hundreds of fresh lakes, rivers, and acres of farmland, the City of Peterborough is a thriving business community that is home to less than 100,000 residents.

Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas, a startup incubator designated to offer one of the only rural Startup Visa Programs for immigrant entrepreneurs in Canada, is located in downtown Peterborough along the bank of the beautiful Otonabee River. 

Specializing in innovation and technology-driven companies, the Innovation Cluster’s STARTup Visa Program Canada provides business mentorship, knowledge, skills training, and networking opportunities to prepare international entrepreneurs for business success in Canada and the ability to compete on a global scale.

The Peterborough-based program sets entrepreneurs up for success beginning with a 3-month virtual accelerator program prior to arriving in Canada, followed by a 12-month in-person business incubation program.

The Innovation Cluster operates three cohorts of the STARTup Visa Program per year, with the next cohort beginning in October 2022. Apply today!


What you should know about the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada

What you should know about the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada

Canada is one of the most desirable countries for immigrant entrepreneurs to grow their early-stage companies. Statistics show that first and second-generation entrepreneurs make up almost 35 percent of all start-ups in the country. Canada’s wide embrace of cultural diversity and business innovation undoubtedly aids in the nation’s global popularity, but it is the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada that is really making international entrepreneurs flock to the hockey-loving nation.


What is the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada?


Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program for immigrant entrepreneurs offers Canadian permanent residence, targeting people who have the skills and potential to build businesses in Canada that are innovative, can create jobs for Canadians, and can compete on a global scale. 

The Start-Up Visa Program (“SUV”) connects candidates with a designated organization such as a business incubator, who helps establish their business in Canada. Initially, entrepreneurs can come to Canada on a work permit supported by their designated organization before qualifying for permanent residence once their business is in full operation.


What requirements are needed to enter Canada’s start-up Visa Program?


Basic eligibility requirements for the Start-Up Visa in Canada include having a:

  • Qualifying Business for Canada
  • Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support from a Designated Organization
  • Sufficient and Available Funds 
  • Proficiency in English or French 


What businesses qualify for the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada?


At the time of commitment from a designated organization:

  • An SUV candidate must hold 10% or more of the voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation (up to 5 people can apply as owners)
  • An SUV candidate and the designated organization jointly hold more than 50% of the total voting rights attached to all shares of the corporation outstanding at that time


How do I get a Commitment Certificate and Letter of Support for the SUV Program?


Every designated organization in the SUV program has different requirements on how start-ups gain its support and in turn, receive a commitment certificate and letter of support needed for their SUV application. You will need to correspond directly with the organization to pitch that your business is worth supporting. This may be an in-person meeting, a formal proposal, or an application for their business incubation program.


How much money is required for the start-up Visa Program in Canada?


SUV applications require proof of sufficient and available funds to support yourself and any dependents after you arrive in Canada. 

Fund requirements vary based on the size of your family. In addition to SUV’s requirements, you should prepare financially and calculate how much money you will need to live in your Canadian region.


What language skills do I need for the Start-Up Visa Program?


Proficiency in English, French, or both languages is required. A language test must be taken from an approved agency and your results must be submitted with your SUV application. You must meet the minimum level of the Canadian Language Benchmark (CLB) 5 in either English or French in four areas: speaking, reading, listening, and writing.


How do I start the process of entering the Start-Up Visa Program in Canada?


An SUV-designated business incubator program not only helps meet SUV requirements, but you will gain invaluable knowledge that will prepare you for business in Canada. Learn about accepted business culture, common business practices, and government regulations. You may also be given networking opportunities so you can form connections before arriving in Canada.

Located between Toronto and Ottawa, Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas is one of few rural business incubators in Canada designated to offer a Start-Up Visa Program and has supported more than 40 companies owned by immigrant entrepreneurs since 2021. Start the conversation by asking questions and learning how you can begin your journey to Canada.


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