Category: Toronto Business

Expansion in Ontario: Which Sectors are Growing the Most

As we gaze into the bright future of Canada, some defining trends are coming into focus. Among these is the substantial rise in the country’s population over the next 20 years. According to Statistics Canada, Canada’s population is currently approximately 40 million, and is poised to cross the 50-million mark by 2043. 

This demographic shift, driven by a combination of natural growth and immigration, is expected to have ripple effects throughout the nation’s economic landscape as well. Three sectors in particular, stand poised to reap the benefits of these developments: technology, life sciences, and agriculture.

Ontario’s Technology Industry

Ontario boasts one of North America’s largest tech hubs. It’s a province where industry powerhouses such as Amazon, IBM, Google, Cisco, and Shopify grow alongside tech startups like Wave, Wealthsimple, Applyboard, Wattpad, Ecobee, Ritual, and more. 

IT, AI, Cleantech, and Fintech are amongst the booming tech sub-sectors.

  • IT: Ontario’s IT sector contributes $48.3B to the GDP annually, with $8.3B in IT related exports. The province is home to over 25000 tech companies.
  • AI: Canada is the first country in the world to adopt a national strategy for artificial intelligence. The province of Ontario has the largest number of AI firms in Canada – over 361 pure-play firms, while the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) alone has the world’s densest cluster of 273 AI start-ups.
  • CleanTech: Ontario ranks #1 as the largest Cleantech sector in Canada. The province contributes CA $25.2B to Canada’s GDP. Ontario is specifically renowned for its pursuit of clean water. Ontario is home to 5000 clean tech companies, out of which 5 made it to the world’s Top 100 CleanTech Companies. 
  • Fintech: Ontario is a pivotal hub for fintech startups with 64% of Canada’s fintech firms being based in the province. In 2021 alone, 25 of the firms from the Deloitte Canadian Technology Fast 50 were from Ontario, with 5 of these being prominent fintech companies.

The tech industry in Ontario is mostly centred around the Toronto, Waterloo and Ottawa regions creating an unparalleled concentration of tech workers. Tech job creation in Toronto outpaces the Bay Area, Seattle, and New York City combined. 48% of Canada’s IT workers are in Ontario, and the province adds 63,500 new STEM grads to the workforce every single year.

Government Incentives to Help Your Tech Business Grow in Ontario

Ontario’s Agriculture Industry

Ontario’s agriculture industry is an essential pillar of its economy. This sector encompasses firms that cultivate crops and rear animals, including managing farms, orchards, greenhouses, and ranches. In 2021, this sector provided employment for 67,400 individuals, making up nearly 1% of the province’s workforce and injected a robust $9.2 billion into Ontario’s economy. This signifies a growth of 9.0% from the previous year.

Ontario stands tall in the national agricultural business. It has the highest number of farms and farm operators across the country and ranks second in farm operating revenues. The province leads the production of soybean, corn, and greenhouse products. As per the latest census, Ontario is home to 48,346 farms, with the most dominant presence in the oilseed, grain, beef, and dairy sectors. 

As the population increases in Canada, Ontario is primed to benefit and thrive. The trends that are taking over the agriculture industry are Agritech, Sustainable Agriculture, and related sub-sector Food and Beverage Manufacturing.

  • Agritech: Over 54% of Ontario’s farms already use technology to improve farming efficiency, making it the perfect playground for agritech innovation and commercialization. A 2021 study also reported that Ontario is home to a majority (33%) of the agritech companies in Canada, making it the largest ecosystem within Canada.
  • Sustainable Agriculture: Farmers in Ontario are recognized for their dedication to sustainable agricultural practices. Canada’s Sustainable Agriculture Strategy (SAS) further propels the agenda to focus on five priority issues — soil health, adaptation and resilience, water, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity.
  • Food and Beverage Manufacturing: Ontario’s food and beverage manufacturing sector is the third-largest in North America. Ontario’s food and beverage processing industry represents 37% of the nation’s total industry revenue, home to 4,000 entities, and employing over 125,000 individuals.

Government Incentives to Help Your Agriculture Business Grow in Ontario

Ontario’s Life Sciences Industry

Ontario’s life sciences sector is thriving, spanning fields from medical device development, pharmaceutical research, to biotechnological advancements. Ontario has 1,900 life sciences firms (more than any other province in Canada), employing 70,100 individuals and contributing an annual revenue of CA $65.2 billion. Interestingly, pharmaceutical companies alone spearhead CA $45.4 billion in revenue and employ over 32,400 professionals. 

Ontario possesses a synergistic ecosystem that enables businesses to go from research to commercialization with ease. With a network of hospitals, research centres, universities, technology incubators, startups, renowned scientists, and multinational corporations, collaborations in Ontario are driving innovation everyday. 

Some of the life science sub-sectors headed towards rapid growth in Ontario are MedTech and Biotech.

  • Medtech: Annually, the Ontario medtech sector generates $18.7 billion in revenue. This robust industry also contributes to the economy with impressive yearly exports totaling $2.55 billion. Ontario is also well-known for being an ideal testbed for medtech and clinical trials. Ontario is home to over 4,600 active clinical trials—the highest in Canada, with twice the trials per capita as the U.S. 
  • Biotech: Canada has been at the forefront of the global biotech industry for years, making strides in areas such as genomics, stem cell and regenerative medicine, and metabolic disorders like diabetes with the discovery of insulin. Canada has experienced a 77.2% growth in biotech companies in the past two decades, with hundreds of small start-ups working to bring scientific discoveries to market.

Government Incentives to Help Your Life Sciences Business Grow in Ontario

Reasons to Consider Business Expansion in Ontario

  1. Workforce

Canada’s commitment to fostering talent is reflected in its impressive educational statistics. Canada has the #1 most educated workforce in the world. The OECD highlights that 62% of 25-34-year-olds in Canada possess tertiary education. 

Canada’s welcoming immigration policies have made it a magnet for global talent. Canada ranks #5 in the world for attracting international students.

Additionally, with universities emphasizing practical training and degrees with co-op requirements, Canada ensures its graduates are ready to tackle real-world challenges, making the workforce an attractive pool for businesses.

2. Market Access

Canada’s 15 trade agreements cover markets valued at over US$50 trillion with 1.5 billion consumers, across 51 countries. Canada has free trade agreements with the largest manufacturing markets in the world: the United States (USMCA), the European Union (CETA) and Asia-Pacific (CPTPP).

Your business can access 187 million consumers within a day’s drive of the Greater Toronto Area. Ontario, specifically, has 4 international and 300 regional airports, 250,000 km of roads and highways, a dozen border crossings and the 6th most internationally connected airport in the world.

3. Stability

Canada is globally recognized as stable, both economically and politically. Holding the position as the 3rd most stable economy worldwide, Canada has consistently ranked among the top three for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) confidence for 5 consecutive years and stood fifth in FDI inflows in 2021.

  • Fiscal and Political: The country’s strategic economic planning has positioned it at the pinnacle of the G20 in terms of fiscal soundness. Beyond economic fortitude, Canada’s political environment is commendably stable, ranking 2nd in the G7 for both political stability and low corruption, only trailing behind Germany in the latter. 
  • Quality of Life: Adding to its appeal is the exceptional quality of life it offers its residents, ranking 3rd out of 80 countries. Safety is paramount here – not only is Canada one of the top 12 safest nations globally, but three of its cities – Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto – are also hailed as some of the world’s safest.
  • Banking: In the banking and investment sector, all of North America’s top six safest banks are Canadian, and these institutions also feature among the top 35 safest banks globally. In essence, Canada’s multifaceted stability, spanning economic, political, financial, and societal aspects, solidifies its reputation as a premier global destination for investment and living.

4. Sustainability

Canada places significant emphasis on sustainability, reflecting its deep-rooted commitment to both its people and the environment. The nation has pledged to utilize advanced technologies and energy systems to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

This commitment to sustainability is evident in its global rankings: Canada is the 2nd-most sought-after country for green energy projects, ranking  4th among G7 nations on the Green Future Index, and is recognized as one of the world’s most sustainable countries.

5. Competitiveness

Canada frequently tops global rankings to have the most conducive business environment in the G20 within the next 5 years. This prestige is built upon a foundation of competitive operating costs and a tax structure that resonates with global investors. 

Canada ranks 1st in the G20 for business operations and economically, it stands as the 2nd most competitive nation in the G20.

Several factors amplify Canada’s competitiveness:

  • R&D Incentives: The country is renowned for its substantial R&D tax incentives, making it one of the G7’s most supportive environments for innovation.
  • Low Inflation: With the second-lowest inflation rate in the G7, Canada’s economic stability is commendable, even surpassing the average of the OECD nations.
  • Tax Advantages: Canadian corporate taxes are not only competitive but also among the G7’s lowest. This favourable tax environment is further enriched by specific benefits like:
  •   – Deductions for zero-emission technology manufacturers.
  •   – Absence of tariffs on imported manufacturing inputs and machinery.
  •   – Tax incentives for research activities by foreign-owned entities.
  •   – Tax breaks for businesses venturing into clean technologies.

Ontario’s growth across various sectors highlights its potential as a dynamic hub for business expansion. For businesses and investors eyeing strategic growth, Ontario presents a landscape rich with promise and potential.

Want to Start a Sustainable Business in Canada?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here

The Filming Industry in Canada

If you like to watch end credits in movies, you may already have noticed an interesting recurring pattern: a sizable amount of Hollywood cinema is made in Canada. My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Juno, The Shape of Water, Interstellar, The Last of Us are just a few global hits out of a long list that were shot in Canada. Over the years, this earned Canada the title of ‘Hollywood North’. 

However in 2023, the film fraternity believes they have outgrown this moniker. A survey by Toronto Film School reveals that a mere 17% of participants still liked the label “Hollywood North” to describe their industry.

The Canadian film industry has been evolving with robust optimism while forging it’s own identity. Kim’s Convenience, Schitts Creek, Working Moms, BlackBerry, Riceboy Sleeps, Twice Colonized, and North of Normal, are some blockbuster TV shows and Movies that celebrate and validate the vast potential of Canada’s diverse stories.

Canadian Film Industry

In 2021, the second year of the pandemic, Canada’s film industry generated a record-breaking $11.3 billion in operational revenue, supporting over 244,000 jobs. Remarkably, the pandemic resulted in accelerating the industry as Canada filmed an unprecedented number of projects throughout 2021, due to a combination of backlog of delayed projects, introduction of new projects and an increased demand for streaming.

In 2022, Canada’s Movie, TV & Video Production industry flourished further, achieving a market size of US $13.4 billion in revenue. Looking back over the past five years, from 2017 to 2022, the industry has seen a consistent expansion, growing at an average rate of 6.1% annually. 

The heart of Canada’s film industry is often concentrated in three provinces: Ontario, British Columbia, and Quebec. These regions are equipped with top-notch facilities, a wealth of talent, dedicated crews, comprehensive services, and diverse filming locations.



Toronto houses the globally renowned Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and ranks among North America’s leading five film powerhouses. In 1917, the Government of Ontario set up the Ontario Motion Picture Bureau, making it the world’s first government-initiated film organization. It was founded a year before the Canadian Government Motion Picture Bureau.

British Columbia

Vancouver is a prime Canadian film epicenter. Hollywood productions provide jobs for over 65,000 individuals in the city. Notably, over 80% of production is centered around Vancouver’s urban landscape.


Montreal is Quebec’s cinematic hub, and it’s no surprise that acclaimed directors, such as “Dune’s” Denis Villeneuve, are from this city. Montreal is teeming with film opportunities, especially with major production giants like Telefilm Canada and Entertainment One operating there. Their portfolios include blockbuster hits and beloved series, from The Walking Dead and Peaky Blinders to cinematic gems like Twilight and Brooklyn.

Famous Movies Shot in Canada

  1. Deadpool (Vancouver)
  2. The Incredible Hulk (Toronto)
  3. Scary Movie (Vancouver)
  4. Chicago (Toronto)
  5. Hairspray (Toronto and Hamilton)
  6. The Suicide Squad (Port Lands and the streets of Toronto)
  7. The Twilight Saga (several Canadian locations)
  8. Capote (Manitoba)
  9. American Psycho (Toronto)
  10. Catch Me if You Can (Quebec and Montreal)
  11. Mean Girls (Toronto)
  12. Brokeback Mountain (Southern Alberta)
  13. The Shape of Water (Toronto and Hamilton)
  14. Rambo – First Blood (British Columbia)
  15. The Revenant (Alberta)


What Factors Contribute to Canada’s Appeal as a Film Destination?

Canada boasts of a multitude of reasons why productions small and large use Canada as their base for filming:


Canada’s rich tapestry of landscapes offers filmmakers an unparalleled range of settings. Urban centers like Toronto provide bustling metropolitan atmospheres, while the picturesque terrains of British Columbia capture natural beauty. The expansive plains of Alberta and Manitoba are perfect for epic tales set in vast open spaces. Canada’s varied environments accommodate a plethora of storylines.


Canada’s four distinct seasons provide varied backdrops for filmmakers, a stark contrast to other countries that may have year-round heat or cold.


Filming in Canada is cost-effective due to the favorable U.S. Dollar exchange rate and lucrative tax incentives. Federal and Provincial governments make varied incentives, grants, and funding available, for example:

  • Ontario Film & Television Tax Credit (OFTTC): The Ontario film and television tax credit is a refundable tax credit based on the qualifying labour expenditures incurred by a qualifying production company for eligible Ontario productions. This tax credit is available to first-time, small and large productions. For example, a first-time production can get a 40% refund on the first $240,000 spent on worker salaries and 35% on any amount beyond that. If the film is made in regional Ontario, the production can get an extra 10% refund on worker salaries.
  • Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CPTC): The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit (CPTC) gives a 25% tax refund on the money spent on qualified worker salaries for eligible productions.

Canada’s appeal is poised to grow, with numerous projects lined up and government funding available.


Canada’s rich talent pool, comprising actors, directors, writers, and crew members, is another draw. The country is brimming with prestigious film schools like the University of British Columbia, Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Image Arts, York University’s School of the Arts, Humber College, George Brown College,  Fanshawe College, and more. 

The nation’s film industry churns out seasoned professionals and budding new talent, including Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, Rachel McAdams, Nina Dobrev, Cobie Smulders, Sandra Oh, William Shatner, Jim Carrey and more. James Cameron, David Cronenberg, Denis Villeneuve, are some celebrated directors from Canada.

The Future of the Film Industry


Since the development of photography, advancements like sound, color, and CGI have been the drivers of evolution in the filmmaking business. Technology will continue to impact the industry and bring new opportunities with it for entrepreneurs. Some of the key trends in filmmaking are:

  • Digital Dominance: With the rise of over-the-top (OTT) video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Disney+, the surge in consumption and popularity has expanded the horizon for filmmakers to create content, in different formats, genres, and styles for audiences across the world. 
  • Advancements in filmmaking: Technology is enhancing everything from shooting and editing to distribution. Algorithmic video editing, 3D printing, 3D previsualization, real-time rendering, volume technology, machine vision lenses, and extreme micro-cameras are ready to propel film into a thrilling, futuristic era. 
  • Diversity and Inclusion: The film industry is facing growing demands and recognition for more diverse and inclusive content, both from audiences and creators. Thankfully, entities like the National Film Board of Canada are initiating steps towards equity, diversity, and inclusion, setting a standard that other industry participants should adopt.

If you’re eager to harness your entrepreneurial talents in Canada’s thriving filmmaking sector, here are some key sectors:

  1. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) Production: As the demand for immersive experiences grows, there’s significant potential for startups focusing on VR and AR content creation.
  1. AI Powered Post-Production Software: AI powered solutions that target editing, sound design, color grading, and visual effects, can help alleviate a multitude of post-production pain points. 
  1. 3D Printing for Props and Sets: Services or machines specifically tailored to film productions can be a great niche allowing filmmakers to print intricate props or set pieces on demand.
  1. Predictive Analytics for Filmmakers: Help filmmakers make data-driven decisions by using analytics and AI to predict audience reactions to certain storylines, characters, or scenes.
  1. Smart Set Designs with IoT: Integrate Internet of Things devices into sets to enable real-time adjustments, special effects triggering, and environment monitoring.

6. Film Tech Hardware: Develop extreme micro-cameras or innovative machine vision lenses that cater to niche filming requirements.

Want to Start a Business in Canada?

TBDC is the bridge you’re looking for! We are Canada’s premier startup incubator. Successful companies like Ibentos and Ayottaz have graduated from our programs and scaled through North America and the world. Are you ready to do the same and make your mark? To learn more, click here

5 Global Business Trends to Keep an eye on in 2023

After the unparalleled beginnings of 2020, 2022 has been an eventful year for startups across the globe — a roller coaster of highs and lows.

Tech companies continued to overshadow their non-tech counterparts, growing 2.3x since the pandemic. The Russia-Ukraine war hit the global economy with supply chain disruptions and rising raw materials prices. Global venture funding saw a pronounced pullback, with Q3 down by 53% YOY, while North America maintained its money-magnetic charm, attracting 52.3% of global startup funding.

The world witnessed talent undergoing collective enlightenment post-pandemic, birthing the Great Resignation. The US, UK, Israel and Canada grabbed the Top 4 spots in the Global Startup Ecosystem Index. And over 900 Unicorns were recognized around the world, with ecosystems like Ho Chi Minh City, Brisbane, Luxembourg, and Santiago-Valparaiso achieving their first.

As the aftermath of the pandemic settles, the startup ecosystem rings in 2023 with a mixed bag of market correction, accelerated tech growth, mindfulness, and long-awaited progress in sustainability that can change the face of our future.
Here are our selections of 5 global business trends that you should keep an eye on in 2023:

1. Transformational Tech Adoption Speeds Up

These are some common tech themes in business that are touted to show dramatic adoption rates this year:

80% of millennials reportedly shop online, forbes global business trends

E-commerce: Businesses around the world will maximize their digital retail presence. Shopify reported that it saw 10 years worth of growth in just 3 months during the pandemic. This year, e-commerce is projected to be responsible for 22% of all retail sales. Businesses, big or small, have seen monumental growth by focussing their energies on digital.

For example, Disney closed 60 brick-and-mortar stores and announced an in-app commerce store. After their announcement, the search volume for ‘Disney’ went up by 5500%. Most millennials reportedly shop online, reinforcing the consumer’s desire for simplicity, immediacy, and convenience.

Although Social Commerce was on the fast track in 2022, the end of the year came with a disappointing rollback and scale-down of social shopping features by platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Tiktok. However, the creator economy and digital ads will continue to thrive and be the face of social commerce for now, as Hootesuite reminds us that internet users aged 16 to 64 visit social networks more than they visit search engines or web portals.

AI & BD: Much like Optimus – the humanoid, 2023 will wave in a year of mass adoption of AI-driven tech. Even though humans have been dreaming about mass AI adoption since the first industrial revolution, we can all agree it’s been a protracted dream.

AI is more than just Robotics today. Natural Language Generation, Speech Recognition, Virtual Agents, Decision Management tools, Biometrics, Machine Learning, Peer-to-Peer networks, Deep Learning, & AI-optimized hardware will all share center stage in development and business adoption this year.

IBM’s Global AI Adoption Index of 2022 reveals the rapidly advancing adoption rates, with 35% of global businesses already using AI in their operations, with an additional 42% saying they are exploring AI. Businesses are most commonly using AI for the following: automating IT, improving business or network processes by cost savings and efficiencies, improvements in IT or network performance, and better experiences for customers.

In its myriad applications, AI overlaps with almost every startup industry. Industries like Advanced Manufacturing, PropTech, AgTech, HealthTech, and CleanTech will actively adopt AI to further their cause.

The Global Startup Ecosystem Report of 2022 revealed that around 25% of all sector-agnostic tech deals had AI in common. AI & Big Data’s 5-year growth rates were 51% in Series A deal count and 104% in exit count, making it one of the sub-sectors with the highest growth. As of 26th Aug 2022, Statista reported that 5% of the world’s VC-funded startups were in AI.

Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality: Immersive technologies will continue to be a point of interest this year, with AR, VR and MR expanding the horizon of possibilities. Search interest for ‘immersive technology’ has increased by 373% since 2018. Like AI, VR/AR/MR can be applied to any industry, from Retail to Navigation, Healthcare, Automotives or Manufacturing.

Google Maps launched Live View, which overlays location directions in real time on top of our world. Pinterest launched AR capabilities on their app, where users ‘Try On’ home decor from their phones. The CES 2023 in Las Vegas was teeming with astonishing, immersive technology, from the FlipVR controller by Shiftall – a microphone that straps onto your mouth and turns your screaming voice into a whisper, to TCL’s RayNeoX2 AR glasses that can deliver 8K video quality, navigation and text translation services.

In a NielsonIQ survey, 51% said they would be willing to use AR/VR technology to assess products. Harvard Business Review studied the usage of AR for a beauty and cosmetics brand and found that 50% more shoppers spent time sampling lipsticks using AR. The study also concluded that AR/VR experiences have 3 key use cases: entertainment, education and evaluation.

Businesses would benefit enormously by investigating immersive tech synergies for their plans this year. Ash Jhaveri, VP of Reality Labs Partnerships, Meta, spoke to Forbes and guaranteed that ‘every enterprise has at least one if not five or ten things that could actually be much better if they were in 3D.’

2. The Future of Work spells Hybrid Flexibility & Quiet Hiring

The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting are getting replaced by Hybrid Flexibility and Quiet Hiring this year. ‘Hybrid Flexibility’ promotes flexible work environments, and ‘Quiet Hiring’ ushers in a push for the plug-and-play gig economy.

The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting were emblematic of 2022, and their impact cannot be underplayed on the future of work. Employers were forced to rethink and restrategize employee wellness to retain talent. Businesses are finally under pressure to create environments that align with the values of the talent they want to attract.

global business trends 2023 quote by Noah Wies, Slack

This led to a shift towards ‘Hybrid Flexibility’ – creating work environments with flexible hours, remote work options, and emphasis on mental wellness and work-life balance. Noah Wies, Chief Product Officer, Slack, was quoted saying that this will be the year teams will ‘work together effectively, no matter where we are or when we’re working’. Cynthia Stoddard, SVP and CIO of Adobe, called digital ‘the default.’

Despite employers reacting with encouragement and very little pushback, the end of 2022 also witnessed mass layoffs worldwide as a precautionary response triggered by economic uncertainty. This created a way for the age of Quiet Hiring.

HR leaders will be instructed to keep full-time headcount low this year due to the looming macro trends, which means businesses will get more comfortable with the plug-and-play gig economy and increase investment in internal talent upskill and mobility.

3. Sustainability driven by more than just Consumer Demand

A global NeilsonIQ survey published on Nov 22 revealed that 81% of consumers are likely to choose a retailer that incentivizes or rewards sustainable choices, and 79% are likely to choose a retailer if they offered a wider assortment of sustainable options in their stores. In any other context, these would be explosive statistics, but in the 21st century, the steady drumbeat of consumer demand for sustainability is an overly familiar sound.

The last few years have seen energy prices ballooning, the rising cost of goods, crop failures, and supply chain disruptions that can be directly connected to changing climate and extreme weather events. This has finally led governments and industries to sit up and take notice.

The US launched the Net-Zero Government Initiative at the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP27), inviting governments to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Countries like Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the United Kingdom have joined the mission.

Governments have proactively started implementing their action plans in many ways; France’s new law for new commercial buildings makes it mandatory for roofs to be partially covered by plants and solar panels. Canada is incentivizing CleanTech by offering a 30% critical mineral exploration tax credit for the exploration of copper, nickel, cobalt and uranium. Starting in April 2022, the UK implemented a Plastic Packaging tax levied on finished plastic packaging components comprising less than 30% recycled plastic.

Businesses are also looking beyond their four walls and inspecting supply chains in their entirety. Google uses A.I. technology to manage its power consumption at its data centers. Amazon is using Machine Learning to determine products fit for flexible packaging, making them lighter. They claim they have reduced the use of corrugated boxes by 35% in North America and Europe by using these algorithms.

The Green Prop Tech industry, where real estate, tech, and sustainability intersect, is also expected to be highly sought after this year. Canadian green proptech companies have $1.5B in funding in the last 17 years and show no signs of slowing down.

4. Startups Race Beyond Borders

Once disruptors, now the convention. Startups we have seen emerge and grow at unstoppable speeds will continue to expand their horizons across geographical boundaries. Business Models that have proven to be successes in one part of the world will race to enter markets across the map.

In the food delivery space, Uber Eats operates in 45 countries, Grubhub in 25, and DoorDash in 27. But before 2022, DoorDash, a New York-based food delivery tech company, was operational only in 4 countries. After it acquired Wolt, a Helsinki-based food and grocery delivery platform, DoorDash expanded operations to 27 countries, including the Baltic and Scandinavian regions. Interestingly, a Spanish startup Glovo, also a last-mile delivery startup, raised $1.2B in funding to expand across South America and North Africa after their success in Europe. The competition for global market share will remain fierce in many VC-funded industries.

5. VC Funding goes Back to Basics, and Alternate Financing finds its spotlight

2021 was a triumphant year for funding around the world with astonishing record deals, but then came 2022. According to Crunchbase, VC funding went down by $90 billion (53%) YOY and $40 billion (33%) QOQ in 2022. This slump, unfortunately, carries some aftermath with it into 2023.

Profitability will be the singular reality check investors will drill down this year. The ‘hockey stick’ uptick is no longer one that instills confidence. However, this does not mean that VCs are pulling back from the startup world entirely; it just means that they will be much more selective.

Invoking hope for startup ecosystems outside the US, VC firms are actively venturing into new markets, away from the traditional Silicon Valley and New York City bubbles.

Businesses in the sustainability and social impact sector will have extra pull this year as VCs also look to align their value systems with their investments. Other sectors, like big data and analytics, will also continue to attract interest because of the sheer scope of the market.

But financing is evolving in its own right, and VCs are no longer the end-all to get on the fast track. Forbes predicts that in 2023 Equity Crowdfunding will emerge as a popular financing trend and the proof is in the pudding. More than 50% of crowdfunding campaigns are achieving success, and over 78% of campaigns succeed in raising more than their goal!

Similarly, Revenue Based Financing is also set to gain momentum this year. Given the looming macro trends, its flexibility for entrepreneurs and investors makes it an attractive solution.

2023 is gleaming with innovation in tech, financing and business growth. Businesses embrace sustainability while leveraging cutting-edge technology. Stakeholders across the board have grown to be more mindful of mental health. And enthusiastic startups will quickly prove the faulty narrative of ‘globalization is dead’ wrong.

If you’re an entrepreneur at any stage of your business, these business trends for 2023 will undoubtedly arm you with the right ammunition to create informed, winning business strategies for the year.

If you are looking to startup, expand or buy a business in Canada, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our advisory team today.

How Toronto Became a Global Hub for FinTech Innovation

What’s the one common thread among these global FinTech brands – Shopify, Freshbooks, Wave, Lightspeed and Lendified? They’re all homegrown Canadian companies turned global giants.

If you’re in the FinTech industry and are looking to scale internationally, you’ll be happy to find the perfect fit in Toronto, Canada.

What’s FinTech, and where does the FinTech Industry stand Globally in 2022?

Financial technology (FinTech) refers to a rapidly growing industry that uses a hybrid of information technology, computer science, and communication technologies to provide financial services to customers. Under a collective umbrella of FinTech, you would typically find companies that deal with Digital Payments Systems, Digital Investment Platforms, Marketplace Lending, Insurance Technology, Neobanking, Cryptocurrencies and NFTs.

2021 was a fantastic year for FinTech globally, reaching a market size of US$112.5 billion. Fintech startups saw $133 billion in venture capital funding, three times the funding of $49 billion in 2020. North America held the largest Fintech market share worldwide, followed by Europe and the Asia Pacific. This ushered in a massive wave of new FinTech startups around the world. In fact, half of Forbes’ list of Fintech 50 winners in 2022 were newcomers.

But just like many other industries, FinTech companies are still recovering from the uncertainty of the pandemic and its impact on global markets. In 2022, although the market has not been as bullish as in 2021, with inflation, increasing interest rates and Ukraine’s invasion, Vantage Market Research reports that the projections from 2022-2028 look strong with a CAGR of 19.8% and an expected market size of US $332.5 Billion by 2028.

What is Canada’s Position in the Global FinTech Landscape?

Canadians have always been eager to adopt new financial technologies.

Canadian financial institutions and financial technology startups have long been leaders in the space globally. Year after year, the Canadian banking system has been ranked the world’s soundest by the World Economic Forum. Some of the globe’s top FinTech brands were born in Canada; you might recognize many of them – Shopify, Wave, Freshbooks, Dapper Labs,  Wealthsimple, Payfirma, Quandl, Cryptologic, Mogo and more.

KPMG reports that fintech investment in Canada reached a record high deal value and deal count with $6.4B and 162 deals in 2021. Canada’s tech community is also leading the way regarding inclusivity and equality. More than half of Toronto’s financial sector is made up of women. These have opened up a gateway of opportunities for Canadian tech startups.

Toronto, a Home for Global FinTech

Toronto was recently ranked as the second largest financial hub after New York in North America, with over 1200 fintech companies, 12000 financial services companies and more than 380,000 professionals in this sector. The sector has added more than 80,000 tech jobs in the past five years.

In a 2021 Accenture Report detailing the Canadian Fintech industry, Toronto’s talent pool came second in the global market, leaving behind many Asian and US hubs. Toronto’s labour force boasts of high levels of financial literacy, progressive immigration policies put in place by the Government towards skilled workers, excellent internal mobility and solid digital skills.

The city is home to some of the most innovative tech companies like online Robo-advisory and stock trading platform Wealthsimple, financial planning & analysis software Vena, Revenue-based financing company Clearco, Internet-first bank for individuals KOHO, Cloud-based invoicing and accounting software FreshBooks and more.

Technology Incubators have also made it easier to start a fintech company in Toronto. Tech startup Accelerators and Incubators like Toronto Business Development Center (TBDC) provide mentorship programs for fintech startups that include skills training, access to influential industry networks and funding for entrepreneurs wanting to set up tech HQs in the country. This has created a hot ecosystem for entrepreneurs, with new technologies being developed every day and bright minds from around the globe bringing fresh perspectives.

Fintech Resources in Canada that Startups can Take Advantage of

In Canada, Fintech companies enjoy a very encouraging and supportive environment with many government grants, incentives for talent and government-backed loans for expansion to foster rapid growth. These include:

Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP)

The National Research Council (NRC) created the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) to support small and medium-sized enterprises in Canada. The IRAP has been supporting small businesses for 70 years.

Under this grant, tech startups can be eligible for anywhere between $50,000 to $500,000. Small Technology Innovation Projects are offered grants of up to $50,000 for R&D or commercialization of the product. Mid-Sized Technology Innovation Projects are eligible for larger grants for R&D or the creation of entirely new software.

The government allocated $500 million, to be paid out over the next five years, for the program in the 2021 budget.

Eligibility Criteria: 

  • < 500 employees
  • Must be registered in Canada
  • It is a for-profit organization

Proof of Concept Program

This grant supports the commercialization of innovative natural products and technologies. Suppose your company is creating tech that can be applied to food production, wellness, water, waste management, agriculture, bioproducts or health. In that case, you could be eligible for up to 40% or $250,000 of the total cost to develop a proof of concept.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • SME, startup or academic research institute
  • Tech must be commercially viable
  • Revenue Generation capacity must be between $10M to $15M within a reasonable time.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC)

SDTC is one of the top public grants. It is a private institution that helps startups in the cleantech sector grow. They are backed by the Canadian government, which provides funding and guidance. Why is a cleantech grant here? SDTC looks for companies that want to change their business’s economic and environmental impacts, so you may be eligible with a robust CRS.

SDTC helps companies commercialize sustainable, clean tech products locally and internationally. They also provide access to investors, partners, government departments and academia to support the tech.

Startups can avail of equity-free grants up to 40% of eligible project costs.

Eligibility Criteria: 

  • Must have a proof of concept but not commercialized their product/service yet
  • Must be a registered company in Canada
  • The project must benefit the Canadian people
  • The product must have quantifiable environmental benefits
  • The technology must be patented

Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF):

This fund is aimed at large companies that can advance Canada’s strategic technological advantage, promote clean technology, and encourage long-term competitiveness in a global economy. It is divided into 5 streams; the scope is quite open with R&D projects, industrial research and development and technology demonstration. But the project or company size must be such that it can retain ‘large-scale’ investments in Canada. Some of the streams are eligible for up to $10 Million in contributions.

Eligibility Criteria: Project costs must be above $20 million

Scientific Research & Experimental Development (SR&ED) Incentive

If your company is working towards advancing science & technology, you can avail of this tax credit incentive. You can reduce 15-35% of your tax expenditures from your income.

It comes in 3 forms: tax deduction, tax credit, or a cash refund.

Eligibility Criteria: You’re eligible if your startup is R&D that falls under qualifying R&D.

Future trends in FinTech to look out for

The term ‘FinTech’ in itself has been expanding every year to welcome many sub-sectors of the financial technology industry, which is why FinTech is still said to be at its earliest stage. The impact of Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, Cloud Computing and IoT is only still being estimated. The future trends of FinTech are touted to be:

Artificial Intelligence in FinTech

AI can enhance accuracy and efficiency in many different ways within FinTech services. It will increase precision for lending decision-making, improve customer support and fraud detection, create Robo-advisor wealth management services, and more competent credit risk assessment and insurance solutions. Toronto has the world’s largest concentration of AI startups, making it ripe for FinTech advancements.

Internet of Things in FinTech

Wearables like bracelets, and watches, will be seen using the Internet of Things to make payments instead of bank cards. FinTech companies are also working on having home appliances like Refrigerators and Speakers place orders and complete payments.

Faster growth for FinTech that serves ESG

FinTech companies focused on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues are likely to see growing interest as the global economy shifts towards greener decision-making models.

Embedded Finance will grow further

Embedded finance will continue to become a pivotal part of the industry as many banks turn service providers to non-banking or non-financial institutions, and non-banking firms provide exposure to licensed banking products and services to customers. This will further push the agenda forward of the Banking as a Service (BaaS) ecosystem.

Are you looking to establish your FinTech HQ in Toronto?

There is no better time than now to cement your place in Toronto’s global FinTech capital. TBDC, a government-designated partner for the Startup Visa Program based in Toronto, is the perfect starting point to find out how. TBDC’s 9-month business incubation program is designed to help international entrepreneurs start up and scale up in international markets. Contact us today!

Are you thinking of starting a business?

The Business Inc. Program is being delivered again this fall at two Toronto Public Library locations. Below are
the details of the upcoming information sessions and seminar dates:

Location: Brentwood Branch (36 Brentwood Road North)

Dates: Tuesdays, October 18 – December 6, 2022
Time: 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Orientation Session:
Tuesday, September 20 (6:30 – 8:00 pm)

Register Online Here!

Location: Fairview Branch (36 Fairview Mall Drive)

Dates: Thursdays, October 20 – December 8, 2022
Time: 6:00 – 9:00 pm

Orientation session:
Thursday, September 22 (6:30 – 8:00 pm)

Register online here!

Register Online Here!

The Business Inc. Program is designed to assist new and early-stage entrepreneurs to develop and grow their businesses.
During the program, participants will:

  • develop an effective business model
  • have access to a business advisor and other valuable resources
  • network with other entrepreneurs

Applications for the program are due October 6, 2022.
For more information, please click here or contact us at (416) 345-9437 or email businc@tbdc.com.

Global Startup Expansion: Landing your First North American Client

Deciding to move to a new country is rarely an easy decision. When you are looking to move and start up a business at the same time, you must really be a go-getter. Starting a business comes with many learnings, costs, and experiences that change your life, and trying to do it in a country without a solid support system is setting yourself up for trouble.

If you are looking to open the North American headquarters for your start-up, there are a few things you can do to help prepare yourself for the move. Research the market, and client, and consider even interviewing a couple of potential clients before you you build your roadmap to North America. Not sure what your next steps are? We’re here to help.

An Introduction to Canadian Business Culture

While India may be the 7th largest country in the world by population, Canada is the second largest in space. These two countries are vastly different in terms of culture and lifestyle, but they both include a wide range of cultures and are politically stable, with well-developed economies that attract foreign investment.In 2021, Canada was ranked the best place in the world to do business, mainly due to our highly skilled talent pool and the soft infrastructure in place to help businesses operate. One of the reasons companies have lagged in doing international business with developing nations is because of ‘institutional voids’, services that we take for granted in the North American market.

But, increased service, connectivity, and resources do come with additional bureaucracy and red tape, with a corporate tax rate in Canada of nearly 28%. If you’re looking for a further breakdown of Canadian regulations and Corporate Taxes, this is a great place to start.

Canada is perceived globally as one of the most socially just nations, placing a high value on racial and gender equality, human rights and racial and ethnic diversity. Anyone can succeed here, and there is a range of resources and funding available for people with a wide variety of needs.

A North American Sales Timeline

Like anywhere else in the world, your sales timeline will vary greatly depending on the industry you are in. Not only will you be exploring your sales market, but to operate in North America (or any country, really), you should also consider researching the product market that is competing with your solution, as well as labour and capital markets. If you want to consider an international sales team, a single salesperson operating more than half the year in a country could leave you paying taxes there.

Your pre-sales research should include

    1. Local Political and Social Systems
    2. Economy openness
    3. Local Product Markets
  1. Labour markets
  2. And Capital Networks

If you are selling a lower-cost service or product to consumers, your industry might already have publicly available benchmarks so you can compare your strategic goals. If you are selling to a corporation, expect timelines well over a few months, and multiple calls with different stakeholders. Canadians are known to be conservative in business and overly polite. Take your time with small talk and introductions, and know you will have to provide lots of information before a formal negotiation begins.

Building a digital presence for the North American Consumer

In our increasingly connected world, Canadian, and North American consumers in general, will look for social proof and customer reviews when considering a new product or service. Build your online presence early, look for ways to build an engaged community and brand advocates, and ensure there is a cohesive feel between your digital and live personas.

Customers will look for a well-built website that validates your business story and provides robust product details. It’s also a great place to host a media kit, press coverage, and collect data on your demographic.

You’ll also want to fissure out what social channels are relevant to your niche. There are hundreds of specialized social media for every industry and social inclination, so don’t be afraid to test a few.

Finally, if your customers engage with you online, make sure to be responsive. Customers like to feel that you are accessible and will help them if something goes wrong. Reply to online reviews and user-generated content to create customers that advertise your products for you.

Grow your Start-Up Internationally

Taking your start-up internationally does not need to be a solo venture. As Canada’s premier designated entry for the Start-up Visa Program, the incubation program was designed to help global entrepreneurs take the next step. Get access to thousands of dollars in business services and receive guided start-up advice today!

A Collection of Finance Advice + Resources for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, you will come to realize that there is a never-ending amount of information about business, marketing and money. But, you don’t always have the time or resources to spend learning the ins and outs of every skill it takes to run a business. Flipping through hundreds of books, podcasts and online courses to grab the best pieces of business advice is overwhelming. So we searched near and far for some of the best courses, podcasts, and books that help entrepreneurs master startup finance.

Online Finance Courses for Entrepreneurs

Financial Markets with Bob Shiller by Yale University

Learn the basics and then some from this Nobel Laureate in Economics and one of the most important thinkers in finance. The course includes ideas, methods, and institutions that permit human society to manage risks and foster enterprise, with an emphasis on financially-savvy leadership skills. Get the groundwork for your startup’s success well laid before there are too many moving parts, and equip yourself with the knowledge to help make great decisions as your company grows.

Register Here

Game Theory with Mathew O. Jackson by Stanford University & The University of British Columbia

Look at the incentives and behaviour driving everything from what we traditionally think of as games to competition among firms, trading behaviour on stock markets, and Google keyword auctions. This famous and well-studied methodology for modelling is commonly used in economics as a valuable tool to aid in the fundamental analysis of industries, sectors, and any strategic interaction between two or more firms.

Register Here

Entrepreneurial Finance: Strategy & Innovation by Duke University

This course was designed to help entrepreneurs understand their financial strategy and look at it strategically to appeal to investors, banks, and other types of funding to create long-term financial growth. Learn how to evaluate entrepreneurial ventures—including high-growth startups, build and manage capitalization tables, study blockchain success and failure applications, and use R programming to determine the rate of return on stock portfolios.

Register Here

Startup Financing Books

The Startup Owners Manual by Steve Blank

Taught at top business schools, Amazon’s #1 title under entrepreneurship, and tens of thousands of positive reviews. This entrepreneurial book is more than just finance, but should be a must-read for all people thinking about starting their own business. Explore the title even further through Steve Blank’s website which has teaching resources, speeches, podcasts, & more.

Find the Book | View His Site

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Written by the co-founder of PayPal, this book is just over 200 pages but packs a punch. It’s a part self-help book, part call to action for startups to build a better world. Dive into a ‘profound articulation of capitalism and success in the 21st-century economy’, ‘bursting with bromides and sunny confidence’, – Derek Thompson. The book focuses on basic concepts that are easy to implement for every industry, which is surprising coming from a man who has invested in; an anti-aging biotech firm, an organization dedicated to building ocean communities underwater, and a foundation that pays teenagers to drop out of college and start new companies.

Find the Book

Startup Financing and Business Podcasts

The Backbone

The LinkedIn profile of Shubham Datta, CPA, CA, includes names like KPMG and Shopify. And he was an adjunct professor for the University of Waterloo, teaching a master’s course in an introduction to startup finance. Skip the hefty tuition fees and listen to Datta interview financial leaders at tech startups whenever is most convenient for you. Don’t work, this podcast launched in 2017, so there is lots of content to binge.

Listen Now

The Top Entrepreneurs

Serial Entrepreneur Nathan Latka releases a 20-minute interview every day with up-and-coming or top startup executives to discuss. how much they sold last month, how they are selling it, and what they are selling. People consistently praise Latka for his ability to get the people he interviews to open up about very sensitive information.

Listen Now

The Tim Ferriss Show

Tim Ferriss is an Angel Investor and advisor to Uber, Evernote, Shopify, Automattic (WordPress.com), Early investor in Twitter, Facebook, and 20+ others. He’s the author of the 4-Hour Workweek, and his podcast interviews experts in all industries and specialties to find out tips, rules, and processes that can be applied to all areas of business. A refreshing look on what business can mean.

Listen Now

Looking to take your startup to the next level?

As a leader, you should always be striving for self-improvement. No matter which way you learn best, there are so many great ways to get your hands on new ideas, materials, and ways of thinking.

TBDC is Toronto’s oldest business incubator, and we are a designated partner for the Startup Visa Program. Our 6-month business incubation program was specifically designed to help international entrepreneurs with high-potential companies scale to international markets. Come join thousands of business leaders, ecosystem partners, and other founders looking to change the world! Apply today.

Technology Shaping the Travel Industry

Pre-pandemic, the travel and tourism industry in Canada was worth $105 billion in total economic activity and 1.8 million jobs. Post-pandemic, the industry is facing a myriad of issues. The great resignation shifted priorities and availabilities in the labour force, increased travel screening and restrictions create a more arduous travel journey, and customers are itching to explore the places they were cut off from during global lockdowns.

The industry is now in a unique position to work on tech integration and upgrades that will change the way we travel forever. Read on to learn about some of the top tech ideas that are shaping the future of travel.

Upgraded Luggage

New advancements take hold before we even leave the door. Fabric technology has been rapidly advancing, and new suitcases are coming out with installed charging ports, antimicrobial lining, and even built-in scooters. For frequent travellers, luggage options are expanding to help them better manage life on the go.

Not only is your luggage getting smart, but the way airports also scan and sort the luggage is getting more technical. Kilometres of conveyor belts costing millions, if not billions of dollars, are being installed worldwide to get your luggage around.

AI & Chatbots

Travel companies and hotels increasingly turn to artificial intelligence (AI) technology to streamline online bookings and deliver more tailored experiences. Aside from being available around the clock to assist customers, they can also arrange reservations, respond to frequently asked questions, process payments, and have natural-sounding dialogues.

AI solutions can also provide insights into customer behaviour, preferences, and interests in travel destinations, hotels, facilities, airlines, vehicle rental businesses, prices, and more, through machine learning. Travel agencies, airports, shuttle services, and hotels can use this information to show or send consumers the right offers at the right time.

Mobile Technology

Smartphones are today’s travellers’ ultimate resource. The ability to way find, book reservations and manage bookings, itineraries, to-do lists, and even boarding passes and security are slowly being moved onto the devices in most of our pockets.

The start of the pandemic made the general public noticeably aware of the amount of data they produce, and to what level of private data, specifically health and movement data, the public is willing to cede in the name of international travel.

Phones already come with a mobile wallet, with digital wallet usage up almost 30% over 2021. With the general adoption and implementation of blockchain technology, the future of boarding passes and more could exist solely in the digital world.

Internet of Things (IoT)

At the beginning of the pandemic, many travel and tourism companies embraced the IoT to help create safe experiences. The IoT is mainly being used to allow customers to control more aspects of their experiences from their phone or a central planning hub and can help companies create more personalized journeys for customers.

Companies have also looked to revamp and revolutionize their loyalty programs. Reshuffles of players in the industry and relatively limited access to international customers mean that companies need to find ways to activate local customers. The data and analytics provided by the IoT could be a great way to attract an under-targeted demographic of new customers.

Virtual Reality (VR)

While VR has been used in various industries, the tourist industry has benefited most from its use. Travellers are able to enjoy far-flung destinations from the safety of their own homes thanks to this technology, which can be the deciding factor in whether or not to book. Customers can go on virtual reality tours to check hotels and restaurants, explore landmarks and parks, or even try out activities.

Airports, Art, and cities are taking advantage of this blossoming technology to give the public innovative experiences wherever they are. Inspiring delight and wonder in cost-effective ways will set travel experiences apart.

Opportunities for Canadian Companies in Travel and Tourism

Canada’s travel industry maintained a consistent revenue stream before the pandemic and had done so for years. Millions of people visit each year to take in the country’s natural beauty, such as Niagara Falls and the Canadian Rockies.

Travel technology advancements give Canadian businesses a competitive advantage as they return to consumers’ lives and tourism picks up speed post-pandemic. They can take advantage of these business opportunities by making sure their website is mobile-ready. Tourists searching for things to do and see in a specific location are more likely to find their website if it appears in the top search results. Having a mobile-friendly website that puts important information (such as hours, location, and contact details) right on the front page is essential.

Looking to expand your Start-up into North America?

Looking for easy access to the North American travel and tourism market? TBDC is Toronto’s oldest business incubator, helping thousands of businesses land and expand into Canada. Located in between America and along travel corridors to Europe, it’s an amazing spot for your net company headquarters.

See if your start-up is ready, contact us today!

Toronto City Council Looking to Overturn Parking Minimums – and Small Businesses Could Win Big

The Washington Post

In any city, there are thousands of desired urban planning updates underway on any given day. As cities age, old infrastructure, opportunities, and community needs change, and space stays limited. And while most North American cities were designed with the idea that cars would be the main source of transportation, it’s been shown that walkable communities are better for our health, economy, and the environment.

Currently, Toronto is the second most walkable city in Canada and ranks 45th globally, but one city councillor is looking to change that. In his 2021 Holiday newsletter, Josh Matlow, Councillor of Ward 12, announced that he had motioned in city council for the ‘Creative repurposing of Underground Parking Spaces’. What does this mean?

Josh Matlow Newsletter

We had the chance to connect with Matlow to help others envision what this initiative would look like if approved, and here is what he had to say.

Josh Matlow on Overturning Parking Minimums

In December 2021, the Toronto City Council changed regulations for minimum parking spots to remove most minimums for new developments and limits the number of spaces that can be built. This was seen as a clear message that Toronto City Planning was focusing less on the car and more on livable neighbourhoods.

But in heavily developed neighbourhoods, like Midtown, many buildings were built when the City required an equal number of parking spaces for units. Now there are miles of underground parking not being used, and some are being used as pay-per-use or day-parking. At the time of the 2021 policy change, the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON) says data shows that in new condo projects, an average of 33% of parking stalls were left unsold.

Matlow’s goal is to see this parking space re-zoned completely, and used by local businesses to provide much-needed social amenities and address food desert concerns. Matlow also hopes that businesses moving into these spaces can support the 489 Naturally Occurring Retirement Communities (NORCs) in Toronto.

Matlow had the pleasure of visiting Oasis programs, an organization already trying to connect seniors in NORCs with resources and programming designed for them. By opening up space under buildings for community programming and service, we can combat some of the intense long-term care shortages we are facing in Ontario.

What kind of services do NORCs need?

  • Regular social activities; like exercise groups, art classes, or community gardening
  • On-site Health consultations; personal support workers are always in demand in Canada
  • Regular Shared Meals; communal cooking spaces and places to serve the patrons, or meal delivery services
  • Administrative assistance; with technologies and service options changing so quickly, aged people will need more help accessing rides and other services with limited internet knowledge

Global Trends in Parking Lot Repurposing

Here are some of the most popular ways that cities are repurposing parking garages to create more walkable environments:

Green Spaces

One of the most popular ways to repurpose a parking garage is to turn it into a green space. This can be anything from a small park to a large public plaza. Green spaces are great for the environment and provide a much-needed respite from the concrete jungle.

One good example is the Pacific Plaza in Downtown Dallas, a former parking lot situated near Pacific Avenue and St. Paul Street. The Dallas Park and Recreation Department transformed the 3.7 acres to create a public plaza filled with trees, grass, and benches where people can relax and enjoy the outdoors.

In Toronto, there are currently government initiatives to create green roofs on commercial and residential buildings, and with people less likely to park their cars in the hot summer sun, why not give the public a chance to enjoy the space.
What does this mean for businesses already established in the area? Many businesses might be concerned that less parking means fewer customers, but it’s been shown time and time again that retail benefits from better bike and pedestrian infrastructure.

Urban Logistics Hubs

E-commerce has been booming in recent years, and as a result, there has been an increase in the need for urban logistics hubs. These are facilities where orders are received, sorted, and shipped out to customers. A recent British study found that 1 Billion pounds in online orders required around 320,000 sqft of last-minute logistical space.

In London, e-commerce retail giant Amazon has leased 39 car parking spaces as last-mile logistics hubs. These hubs are used to store items delivered to customers by Amazon’s fleet of cargo cycles and pedestrian porters.

What opportunities does this bring small businesses? Instead of renting storage space for products that you plan to ship for e-commerce, you could have a little store run in an underground space, and deliveries can be picked up right from your door.

Urban Farming

In 2021, Toronto foodbanks received 1.45 million visits, the highest number in the city’s recorded history. For the first year ever, new clients surpassed return users, and the number of users was 1.5 times higher than in 2010, following the 2008 recession.

The global food sovereignty movement was conceptualized in the late ‘90s, and has been taking root all over the world. While it’s manifesting in public spaces, on the side of buildings, and on personal land, the technological developments in controlled environment agriculture make it possible to feed communities out of retrofitted-shipping containers.

There are so many benefits to re-hyperlocalzing our supply chain. First, the product that doesn’t have to spend days in transportation tastes better and lasts longer for the consumer. And with the majority of the population globally moving to urban centres, there is a growing need for new farmers and more farms.

Toronto’s demand for fresh produce is up over last year, despite the rising costs of everything. There is also an increased demand for value-added products, like pre-cut fruit, ready-to-eat salads, and more. Furthermore, the pandemic increased the need for curb-side pickups. Instead of having consumers drive to a grocery store, packages could be delivered to space for pickup in the basements of the building, closing that last mile to the consumer.


Toronto’s Underground Communities

Repurposed parking lots won’t be the only underground space Torontonians operate in. If you have yet to explore the city’s PATH, it’s worth a wander. The underground trail runs from Union to Bloor, with 1,200 restaurants, shops and services that employ over 4,600 people and generate $1.7 Billion in sales annually. It is run in collaboration with 35 corporations, and each segment is controlled by the building it runs under.

The repurposing of these parking lots is only in the ideation stage, and bringing international start-ups who would otherwise be priced out of prime retail space will only expand the possibilities.

Moving your Business to Toronto

Thinking of taking your start-up international? Toronto Business Development Centre (TBDC) is Toronto’s oldest business incubator and the only one that helps companies move anywhere in Ontario. Since our inception, we’ve helped over 9000 companies move to Ontario and scale. If you are leading a company with proof of concept and a strong management team, we can make the connections you need to accelerate your expansion into the North American market.

Excited about the opportunities you see here? Book a call to see if your business is ready.

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