In Ontario, there are more than 20 world-class organizations that offer incubator and accelerator services. Each phase can last varying durations, from weeks and months to years, and may or may not involve funding or subsidies. Whereas an incubator tends to engage companies during the pre-commercialization stage, an accelerator typically supports companies that have reached commercialization but are looking for expertise about expansion.
To further unpack these two spheres: an incubator assists a company throughout the startup phase, often in the form of providing the entrepreneur with office space, basic business skills training, and access to financing and professional networks. During this pre-commercialization stage, a business may have a product but has not yet sold it. Once a business has a firmer sense of its identity and the marketplace, an accelerator can help alleviate the long-term organizational, operational, and strategic planning difficulties that a company may experience on its way to mature expansion.
Here are some of the incubators and accelerators currently supporting Ontario’s water innovation ecosystem:
- Communitech: Incubator and Accelerator (Kitchener-Waterloo)
- HalTech Regional Innovation Centre: Accelerator (Oakville)
- Innovation Factory: Incubator and Accelerator (Hamilton)
- Innovation Guelph: Accelerator (Guelph)
- Invest Ottawa: Incubator and Accelerator (Ottawa)
- MaRS Discovery District: Accelerator (Toronto)
- RIC Centre: Incubator and Accelerator (Mississauga)
- TechAlliance: Incubator and Accelerator (London)
- ventureLAB: Accelerator (Markham)
- WaterTAP Ontario: Accelerator (Toronto)
A number of these incubators and accelerators are known as Research Innovation Centres (RICs). Ontario leads the way in having dedicated centres for each region of the province. WaterTAP is the only accelerator that is uniquely focused on water technologies and solutions.