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How to start a technology or innovation business in Ontario
Table of contents
Technology and innovation businesses cover a wide range of industries. These businesses may focus on activities such as researching and developing new products or providing innovative solutions to existing processes. Whether you are interested in new technologies, product innovation or research and development, this guide will help you learn what is needed to start your business.
When you start a business there are several things to consider before you can sell your product or service. Most businesses in Ontario need to complete a minimum of three basic steps:
- Find out what licences and regulations apply to your type of business
- Choose a business structure and register or incorporate your business
- Determine if you will need to collect and remit HST
Our Starting a Business guide will give you more information on these steps and other basic requirements for starting a business in Ontario.
Starting a Business
If you are looking for funding or expert advice, Innovation Canada has programs and services to help your business innovate, create jobs and grow the economy.
- Innovation Canada digital platform is a tool where you can get a tailored list of everything that government can do for your business.
- Innovation Advisors provide free, one-on-one assistance to help guide you to the most appropriate innovation programs and services. If you are incorporated and creating a new innovative product, process or service, an advisor can help you find funding, expertise, facilities and global opportunities.
- Strategic Innovation Fund invests in innovative businesses, helping you to scale-up, research, develop and commercialize cutting-edge ideas and collaborate in new ways.
- Innovative Solutions Canada enables the Government of Canada to partner with eligible small businesses and innovators to help with early development, testing and validation of prototypes that solve challenges.
- Clean Growth Hub gives businesses with clean technology projects a personal guide to answer questions, talk through options or make introductions.
- Accelerated Growth Service gives high-growth companies one advisor for all government programs and services.
Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs
The Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE) is a Government of Ontario funded network. With close to 90 centres located throughout the province, the ONE represents a one-stop shop for anyone involved in planning, launching or building a company, whether it's a main street retailer, a high-tech start-up, or a growing manufacturer.
Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research (DAIR)
If you run a Canadian small or medium-size business with less than 500 employees and are involved in software development, testing and demonstration, you may benefit from the DAIR program’s high-performance cloud resources. Advantages include:
- Free self-serve access to 4 high performance virtual servers
- Easy, online application process
- Ability to develop and test many types of software applications for tech-based businesses
- Ability to develop e-commerce applications, services or websites, either for internal or external use for non-tech businesses
- Storage of data in Canada (may be a legal or contractual requirement for some businesses)
Additional services and resources are also available for a fee.
Note: All use of the service must be non-commercial (pre-commercial or non-revenue generating). Other conditions apply.
Cloud Technology: DAIR
Your business may need licences and permits from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.
In addition to the information you will find in this guide, you can use BizPaL to find licences and regulations that may affect your business. You can also contact us to speak to someone about starting your business.
Permits and licences search
Intellectual property protection
You may want to protect your business’s intellectual property, such as inventions or designs. Contact the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) to learn how to protect your business’s intellectual property.
Find out about managing chemical substances, including information on:
- Regulations and regulatory changes
- Mandatory industry surveys
- Chemicals Management Plan initiatives and resources
- Notification requirements under the New Substances Program
Chemical Substances - businesses and organizations
Medical laboratory & health related regulations
Below are regulations specific to medical laboratories and health-based research businesses.
Science-based health products
If your business will be involved in developing or working with chemical technology, biotechnology or medical technology, contact Health Canada to learn more about regulations for science-based health products.
Contact Health Canada:
Health and the environment
Ontario laboratory accreditation
If you want to run a medical research laboratory, you will need to get an ISO certificate and follow the standards set by the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care and the Institute for Quality Management in Healthcare.
Contact the Institute for Quality Management in Healthcare:
Lab accreditation services
You can contact Pro Bono Ontario’s free legal advice hotline to enquire about getting help with your everyday civil legal needs (no family law or criminal law). The service is generally aimed at those who cannot afford a lawyer.
Note that service is not guaranteed and you will be asked questions as part of the qualifying process, such as the amount of personal income earned by your household, your name, postal code and age range.
Contact Pro Bono Ontario’s Free Legal Advice Hotline:
You can also contact the Law Society of Ontario's Law Society Referral Service if you have legal questions of a business nature. The service may be able to assist you in finding a lawyer or paralegal, based on your needs.
Law Society Referral Service
Depending on your location and the type of products or services being offered, federal, provincial and/or municipal business taxes may apply.
If you sell goods and services in Ontario, you may need a business number to collect and remit the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST). Most businesses that make less than $30,000 in any 12-month period are not required to charge HST; however, you can register voluntarily and claim input tax credits. Speak with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for more information.
Canada Revenue Agency
Grants, contributions, subsidies and loan guarantees are available from various government sources. Use Innovation Canada’s online search tool to look for programs and services that may apply to your business.
Grow your business
For information on financing and non-financial support for technology and innovation entrepreneurs please refer to the following guides.
From day-to-day operations to long-term planning, learn how to manage your business efficiently.
If you are interested in finding an association, use our secondary market research service request and have us search for one based on your needs.
- Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA)
- International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
- Information Technology Association of Canada (ITAC)
You can also find books, magazines and other relevant print material at business service organizations in your community. To locate a Small Business Services (SBS) community partner, contact us at 1-888-576-4444.