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External Funding Opportunities.

Numerous competitions, grants and awards are available to students engaged in entrepreneurship. A comprehensive list has been gathered and will be updated annually.

Canada Wide

FoundersBeta

Startup Forum of startup competitions: 27 pages of competitions.

Cooperathon

Open innovation challenge; 6-week training program; Pitch contest w/ other $100,000 in prizes; 8 socio-economic challenges.

Grand Challenges Canada

Supporting innovators improve the health of their communities, save lives of people affected by conflict, and Indigenous innovators to identify and solve challenges in their communities.

TELUS Pitch Live Summit

Nationwide small business pitch contest; First prize $100,000.

Green Centre Canada

For small and medium sized enterprises, grant up to $15k for proof-of-concept work in cleantech.

Mitacs Accelerate Entrepreneur

Funds student entrepreneurs to help develop research/technology for their start-up business.

StartUp Toronto

List of competitions in Toronto & Ontario & Canada. 

Business Benefits Finder

Database of grants/funding opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses across Canada. 

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC)—Seed Fund

Grant, $50,000–$100,000 (nominated by an accelerator or incubator).

Innovation Solutions Canada

For small and medium sized enterprises, Canadian government puts out competitive requests for innovative solutions from small companies that may be funded if selected. 2 phase allocation: $150k and 6 months for proof of concept, up to $1M and 2 years for prototype, then government may source the product and become the first customer.

Mitacs

Help businesses find and fund students/recent grad interns for research and innovation projects. Special leverage for SMEs – company contribution is reduced to 25% (3:1 leverage) for SMEs to fund interns.

Ontario—Funding

Business in the Streets (BITS) Bucks

Micro-financing program for residents in the greater Toronto Area.

Ontario Government Entrepreneurship Funding for people under 30

Multiple small grants for young people starting a new business.

OCI Talent-Edge Program

For businesses to help hire interns/co-ops.

Ontario Start a Summer Business

For Sole-proprietorship; brand new business.

Ontario—Competitions

The Queen’s Entrepreneurs’ Competition

Open to full-time undergraduate students in Canada & internationally; Over $80,000 in prizes.

The Youth Impact Challenge

$10,000 grant.

Elevate

Annual tech conference, includes the ElevateR Pitch competition.

MaRS IAF (Investment Accelerator Fund)

$500,000 grant for companies raising seed funding.

Octagon Health Data Science Competition

Hosted at UTM, open to all academic institutions; $5,000.

The Pitch: Where Startups State Their Case

International competition for legal tech startups, based in Toronto. Last time was 2018.

Reimagine Learning and Education in our Communities Challenge

$10,000 grant hosted by Sheridan College.

Synapse Life Science Competition

Investment, no fixed amount. 3-month process to final pitch.

LiON’s Lair

Pitch competition in Hamilton. Applicants need to be working with Innovation Factory mentors.

OBI ONtrepreneurs Program

Award, focuses on early-stage entrepreneurs commercializing brain-related tech.

PitchIt Toronto City Hall

Interactive pitch event, showcase company to potential clients and angel investors.

SIAL Canada: Startup Pitch Competition

Pitch competition at their annual conference, includes support for food tech startups. 

International/US Competitions Open to Canadians

SPC-Script web3 Founder Fellowship

Dilutive funding $400,000 for 7% on a SAFE. For products using web3.

Get in the Ring

Global Pitch Competition: Active in 200 cities, culminate in global competition; Challenges submitted by companies to solve as well.

The Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge

Designed for science and deeptech entrepreneurs; 100,000 euros of equity-free funding.

James Dyson Award

Open to engineering students, winner gets $50,000 and $8,600 for their institution).

K-Startup Grand Challenge

1st place $120,000; Top 10 teams get prizes; Acceleration program based in Korea.

MIT-Rabobank Food and Agribusiness Innovation Prize

Open to North American University students; $30,000 funding & industry mentorship to winner.

One Pager: BlockHack Global

Blockchain-related projects; Top 10 pitch to investors.

Rice Business Plan Competition

Must have at least 1 grad student on your team; Compete for more than $1.5 million in prizes.

Startup Battlefield

Costs $500 to attend, could win $100,000 prize (previous winners include Dropbox).

SXSW Pitch

Eight categories; Showcases innovative new technology to a panel of industry experts, high-profile media professionals, venture capital investors, and angel investors.

XPRIZE Carbon Removal

Runs until 2025, funded by the Musk Foundation (Elon Musk); $100 millions funding.

Ericsson Innovation Awards

Opportunity to develop ICT projects in collaboration with Ericsson experts; Annual theme picked for the awards.

Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

Must be a student; Business in operation for 6 months; Business must have generated $500 USD or received $1,000 USD in investments at time of application.

Hult Prize

Target a different area of focus each year; $10,000, career mentoring.

Kellogg-Morgan Stanley Sustainable Investing Challenge

Open to teams of graduate students; Financial approaches to social & environmental challenges.

MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition

3 rounds of the competition (Pitch, Accelerate, Launch); Win $5,000 at Pitch stage, $10,000 at Accelerate stage, and $100,000 at Launch; One person on the team needs to be a current MIT student.

Startup Showdown

$120,000, monthly startup competition; Pitching to investors as well.

QuickFire and QuickPitch Challenges

List of competitions hosted by Johnson & Johnson; Focus on healthcare issues.

Shell Startup Engine UK

12-month program; Open to startups based or entering the UK energy market.

Startup World Cup, Canada Regional

Winner moves on the Startup World Cup, $1 million investment prize.

THIEL fellowship

$100,000, two-year grant; Accept 20-30 applicants each year; Can apply as individuals or groups.

Small Business Ideas

Futurepreneur

$15,000 Non-collateral loan for side businesses.

Opportunities for Women

 Accelerate OTT

$750,000; Open to women in tech (Canada).

Cartier Women’s Initiative

Regional awards, broad range of financial supports, and a fellowship program; Founder needs to be a woman and needs to be the largest shareholder or own shares at least equal to that of her other cofounders.

MaRS Discovery District StandUp Ventures

Investment, no fixed amount; Must have at least 1 woman in a C-level leadership position in the company and an equitable amount of ownership (Canada).

PitchHER

$10,000 pitch competition powered by Microsoft Startup and Dream Legacy Foundation; Open to Black-owned woman-led business, LGBT, newcomer, or differently-abled group or racialized/diverse entrepreneur.

Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards

Must be in a business for a least 3 years; reside in Canada.

Communitech Fierce Founders

$100,000 in venture funding for women-led or women-owned businesses; Application for a Bootcamp (Canada).

Pitch for the Purse

$50,000 prize, also provides coaching and mentorship for women entrepreneurs.

SoGal, Black Founder Startup Grant

 $10,000 and $5,000 grants for Black women and non-binary entrepreneurs (United States).

TiE Women Global Pitch Competition

Started in 2019; Last year’s winner got $100,000; Also have chapter awards (guessing you need to be a member to qualify) (International).

Opportunities for Marginalized Groups

 CGLCC

Partnered with EY for a virtual pitch competition; Group supports LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs.

SoGal, Black Founder Startup Grant

$10,000 and $5,000 grants for Black women and non-binary entrepreneurs.

PitchHER

$10,000 pitch competition powered by Microsoft Startup and Dream Legacy Foundation; Open to Black-owned woman-led business, LGBT, newcomer, or differently-abled group or racialized/diverse entrepreneur.

Mitacs Indigenous Pathways

Enhanced leveraging to fund student/recent grads on projects with Indigenous organizations or indigenous interns to help promote equitable access to our research and innovation funding.

Specialized Accelerators/Business Development

BDC Venture Acceleration Program (VAP)

Investment, Velocity is a partner.

DMZ Ventures Zone Startups

Offered by Ryerson University.

Extreme Venture Partners—Investment

Need to show traction with paying customers; Pre-seed and seed-stage companies.

HealthBound Challenge

Partnership between Ryerson and St. Michael’s Hospital, need membership to Biomedical Zone on campus.

MaRS Innovation Partnership

Procurement by Co-Design: Healthcare-service providers participate in the development of innovative solutions before procuring them.

OCE Market Readiness Fund

2 stages of investment.

TandemLaunch

Scouts/accelerates/commercializes early-stage tech from universities.

Creative Destruction Lab (CDL)—Toronto Program

$5,000 venture capital.

Extreme Accelerator

Focuses on bringing international businesses to Canada.

FounderFuel Program

Investment, need to be located in Montreal for the program.

IDEABOOST Investment Program

4-month accelerator, $35,000 in seed funding for each participant.

Next36

Focused on teaching core skills and strategies.

Ryerson Venture Zone Industry Challenge

4-week intensive program; Apply as individuals, explore problem statement and partner with industry experts.

THRIVE by SVG Ventures

Agriculture technologies accelerator.

Other Opportunities

Dragons’ Den

CBC TV Show.

AC Jumpstart

Additional opportunities for UWaterloo alumni who graduated in the last 5 years.

CDMN Soft Landing

Applications are currently closed due to COVID-19 but sounds like the plan is to re-open soon.

Queen’s Entrepreneurs Competition

For undergraduate students with ventures in the idea or growth stage.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC)

Two Streams:
Clean Tech Fund
Seed Fund

HackerNest

Uniting tech communities. Adapted programming for remote work environment.

MaRS Business Acceleration Program

Funded by Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation, supports entrepreneurial talent aged 18-29. In Waterloo, Communitech offers services, activities, and small business grants.

Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition

Based in Singapore; Offer suggested areas of focus for competitors; Multiple prizes (13 total), range from $20,000 to 1 million.

Spark-ON program

Program open to frontline careworkers, clinical managers, or clinical researchers; up to $50,000 to develop, test, and scale solution.

MC2 Capital

Investment program dedicated to supporting early-stage Canadian* healthtech companies. Receive an investment of up to $300,000 CAD to grow and scale your healthtech solution.

Lab2Market

Dalhousie University: 16-week program to help researchers validate their ideas with the purpose of finding business/commercial value; Receive up to $15,000

Norman Esch Entrepreneurship Award for Capstone Design

6 awards ranging from $5000 to $10,000 each, for steams enrolled in the Faculty of Engineering’s Fourth-Year Capstone Design Project. Awards open to student teams from all depts within the Faculty of Engineering.

Next AI

Accelerator, accepts idea or early stage ventures; Toronto ventures can receive up to $25,000 on a $2 million cap post-money SAGE, eligible for up to an additional $100,000 in follow-on investment on a $4 million cap post-money SAFE.

Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC), Innovation Stream

Innovation with net economic benefits for Northern Ontario, no info on available funding. Other funding available, but there are a lot of strings attached to it.

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), Clean Tech Fund

For small to medium sized companies developing clean tech, very precise guidelines on the amount of funding provided based on the company’s other sources of funding.

Imagine K12 & Y Combinator

3-month development cycle; Culminates in Demo Day (present to invite-only audience). Invest $125k on a post-money safe in return for 7% of the company when the safe converts.

Summer Company

Program run by Small Business Enterprise Centres throughout Ontario, open to people between the ages of 15-29; Award of up to $3,000.

Starter Company Plus

Run by Small Business Enterprise Centres throughout Ontario; Potential funding up to $5,000; Must be over 18, not attending school full time or returning to school.

Canadian Space Agency

Announces opportunities for grants regularly, but need to refer back to this page to do so.

Palihapitiya/Lau Venture Creation Fund Competition

Provides 2 $50,000 awards to University-selected Capstone Design teams with the intention to turn their project into a startup after graduation

MSK Innovation Competition

Open to London-based entrepreneurial MSK experts only; $30,000.

OCI (OCE) Talent Edge

Provides support for current college and university students and recent undergraduate or Masters graduates, to work on industry-driven research and development projects related to Next Generation Network (NGN) technologies at Ontario-based SMEs using the Centre of Excellence in Next Generation Networks (CENGN) platform.

CanExport Innovation Grant

Still running—proposals accepted from small– and medium–sized enterprises; Need to have a CRA business number.

Orange Social Venture Prize (OSVP)

Focused on best tech projects with a positive impact for Africa and the Middle East.

FedDev

FedDev Ontario works to create opportunities for economic growth in southern Ontario by helping businesses become more competitive, innovative and productive. Our Agency also works with southern Ontario communities to develop and diversify local economies.

MaRS Embark Funding

For young professionals (aged 22-29), Ontario-based technology; Ventures can receive up to $20,000 towards the cost of the Embark candidate’s salaray. Each recipient needs to contribute $2,500 (or 12.5% of amount requested) over the program’s 6-month period.

Starter Company PLUS Program

Eligible applicants need to be graduates, is expected to match the grant amount they are requesting with 25% personal investment (eg $5000 grant will require $1250 personal contribution in the business).

MC2 Market Readiness

Looks like an accelerator, Up to $150K investment via SAFE or unsecured venture debt to help your company reach a business milestone.

Stu Clark New Venture Championships: Graduate Edition

University of Manitoba: 2-day competition, compete in an Elevator Pitch and Business Plan presentation, evaluate feasibility, market opportunity and business model of a new venture. Business Plan: $20,000, Elevator Pitch $1,500.

Engineer of the Future Trust

(UWaterloo): Available for students in Faculty of Engineering; Funding ranges from $500-$2500. Many teams from Concept & Problem Lab apply for funding here!

AquaHacking Challenge

Program to restore freshwater health through tech solutions developed by young Canadians; 18-35 years old; 1st prize $20,000.

Next 36

Accepts undergrads, masters students, and recent grads from schools across Canada; Would need to pay accommodations/food if they need to relocate; Receive up to $50K in seed capital over the program, 4% of business owned by NEXT Canada

Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), Seed Fund

Early-stage Canadian entrepreneurs, one-time grants of $50,000 to $100,000 for innovative tech projects with environmental benefits.

Reimagine Education Awards

Have a stream for Venture (early-stage) applicants from ed tech companies, education start-ups, social enterprises, and education foundations; Companies can’t have undergone IPO, rec’d above an (unspecified) amount of revenue or funding, or achieved late-stage project development milestones. Have a stream for Venture (Mature) as well. Could win up to $50,000 in funding.

Social Impact Fund

Offered by GreenHouse. Teams should situate their solution within the UN Sustainable Development goals; Celebrated three times a year, unclear just how much funding students could get.

Kidney Innovation Accelerator

Host funding competitions for groups focused on innovations involving kidneys; Current competition changes regularly.

Planet Hatch

Operated in conjunction with Ignite Fredricton, loan provides up to $25,000—Limited to startups in the Greater Fredericton Area.

Mitacs Entrepreneur International

Travel award of up to $5000 for incubator-linked companies to explore new business opportunities abroad.