General Questions

What is Invest Ottawa?

In short, Invest Ottawa is a non-profit organization that facilitates economic growth and job creation in the city of Ottawa.

How does Invest Ottawa measure success?

We measure success through our Annual Operation Plan. The City of Ottawa has set a number of goals, objectives and performance metrics for Invest Ottawa to achieve, primarily focused on investment and jobs. These metrics include tracking dollars invested, inbound trade delegations, square footage leased, training programs delivered and jobs created.

How is the Municipal Government involved with Invest Ottawa?

The Mayor of the City of Ottawa is the co-chair of Invest Ottawa’s Board of Directors. Through its approved five-year Economic Development Strategy and its Economic Development Implementation Plan, the City led the development and implementation of Invest Ottawa. The City is the majority funder of Invest Ottawa and, through a multi-year agreement and annual operating plans, it will oversee Invest Ottawa’s execution of its mandate.

Are you part of Ottawa’s municipal government?

No, we are not. Invest Ottawa is a non-profit organization that serves as the lead economic development agency for the city. In addition, Invest Ottawa acts as the Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) for the Province of Ontario, which is a member of the Ontario Network for Entrepreneurs (ONE). Read more about ONE here.

How is Invest Ottawa funded?

All of Invest Ottawa’s services are made possible by generous support from our municipal,  provincial, federal and private partners.

How is the private sector involved in Invest Ottawa?

The private sector is involved with Invest Ottawa in many ways: first, as clients of the organization and, second, as advisors through the Invest Ottawa Board of Directors and its working groups.

Do you only help technology companies?

Not at all! You could be selling racks of clothes or lines of code. Although a large percentage of our clients focus on technology, we provide resources and mentorship to all businesses.

Is Invest Ottawa part of the Chamber of Commerce?

Invest Ottawa is not part of the Chamber of Commerce. As the lead economic development agency for the city, we engage with several community members and institutions like Business Improvement Areas and the Chamber of Commerce to deliver mutually beneficial programs and events.

Where are you located?

We are located at Bayview Yards, a beautifully restpred hertiage building at 7 Bayview Station Road, Ottawa’s Innovation Centre.Our location on Google Maps.

Does Invest Ottawa run Bayview Yards, Ottawa's innovation centre?

Invest Ottawa is operator, anchor tenant and key program partner of Bayview Yards.

Does Invest Ottawa run Area X.O, Ottawa's Smart Mobility R&D complex in Ottawa?

Area X.O was established and is managed by Invest Ottawa. The R&D complex evolved from the Ottawa L5 Connected and Autonomous Vehicle Test Facility launched in May of 2019, Area X.O is a world-class R&D complex in Canada’s Capital that enables and accelerates the safe and secure development, testing, and application of next-generation smart mobility, autonomy and connectivity technologies.

Do you have space available for bookings?

As the city’s “one-stop shop” for innovators, entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and investors, the Innovation Centre was designed to host events that can bring the community together. Please direct all booking requests to:  http://www.bayviewyards.org/contact-us/

Can I just drop by?

The innovation centre is open to the public and we have dozens of events and workshops that are free. You can find out more on our events calendar here.

How do I get funding from Invest Ottawa?

We get this question a lot. As a non-profit, Invest Ottawa does not provide any funding to businesses. We can, however, help you access government grants, secure loans and connect you to angel investors and venture capitalists.

Can you sponsor my event?

As Ottawa’s lead economic development agency, Invest Ottawa is a proud supporter of the entrepreneurship community in the National Capital Region. As much as we would love to sponsor all the great events in Ottawa, as a publicly funded entity, our funds are tied to program delivery and services. We are able to provide in-kind promotional support for a limited number of community events that directly align with our strategic plan and supported objectives and provide a specific value proposition to the firms and entrepreneurs that we serve. 

View In-Kind Sponsorship Guidelines

What sort of online conduct does Invest Ottawa tolerate on social media?

We are dedicated to fostering a safe space where people from all walks of life feel welcome, encouraged and empowered to contribute their unique perspectives to the conversation. For that reason, we will not tolerate any hate speech and abusive behaviour – because we should not tolerate online what we would not tolerate at Invest Ottawa

Invest Ottawa Services

How can I get started with you?

There are a few ways to do so. We have monthly entrepreneur drop-in sessions, where our business advisors can answer initial questions about starting a business and tell you how our services can help. (check our calendar!). Another option is to fill out our service request form to get the ball rolling.

Do I really need to fill out a form before we can get started?

Our programs are publicly funded, so there are a number of criteria that must be met before you can access some of our higher level services.

Who can attend your workshops and is there a fee?

Anyone and everyone – no matter your level of experience or industry, all are welcome. And they are free!

I am interested in putting on a workshop. Who should I speak with?

We love meeting new people who are passionate about helping the Ottawa community. Kindly send us an email with a brief synopsis of your topic and expertise. If there is a fit or need, we will reach out to chat more about it

How do I get an consultation or meeting with an expert?

Please fill out our service request form and we will be in touch shortly. We do our best to respond within five business days. We get dozens of requests a week, so please bear with us.

Do I need to be running a certain type of business to access services?

Big or small, established or just starting out, we can’t wait to work with your business.

How does your Accelerator program work?

When your tech startup has early market traction, it may be time for the IO Accelerator. It’s a high touch, milestone-driven program where founders and their teams get expert guidance on finding product-market fit, securing funding, advice on building out major business disciplines, and access to specialized peer groups and timely market intel. For more information on the IO Accelerator, including eligibility criteria, visit the Program page. If the Accelerator doesn’t sound like the right fit, check out our other programs for tech startups here.

How do I access the Market Insights team?

Since our programs are publicly funded, there are a number of criteria that must be met before you can access some of our higher-level services, such as market intelligence. For a list of criteria for this service, please scroll down further. 

Invest Ottawa and Economic Development

What is economic development and how does Invest Ottawa help facilitate it?

Invest Ottawa performs this role in a number of ways, but mostly through two key efforts, business retention and expansion and foreign direct investment.

What is foreign direct investment?

When a foreign company, which operates in a knowledge-based industry, is looking for a new city in which to invest, we actively work to make Ottawa a viable candidate. We also help facilitate a company’s expansion into the North American/South American market (using Ottawa as a base of operations). This supports our primary mandate of facilitating job creation and economic growth.

How does Invest Ottawa work with local tech companies?

Invest Ottawa works with the local knowledge-based industry to help them with certain barriers to growth (sometimes called “Business Retention and Expansion”). In the past, we have helped companies find new working space, assisted with talent attraction or connected them to international opportunities. By leveraging our close relationships with government, we strive to ensure that all your business needs are met and exceeded in Ottawa.

Starting a Business Basics

What is a business number (BN)?

A Business Number relates to a business as a Social Insurance Number (SIN) relates to an individual. It identifies your business to all levels of government (federal, provincial, municipal). CRA issues this nine-digit number. The number is attached to the 4 program accounts under CRA.

  • HST
  • payroll deductions (income tax, Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance)
  • importer/exporter
  • corporate income tax

More information on registering and the program accounts can be found on the CRA website. https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/tax/businesses/topics/registering-your-business/register.html

What government financing is available?

There are many government financing programs for businesses, generally targeted to specific industries, geographical areas or particular groups of entrepreneurs. Almost all financing programs consist of loans. There are very few grants available. However, they do exist for the arts/culture industry. One of the more common financing programs is Canada Small Business Financing (CSBF), a loan that is guaranteed by the Government of Canada in the event of a default on the loan. Visit the One Network for Entrepreneurs website for resources including Financing programs. See also the Canada Business Network for entrepreneurial research including a database of financing programs.

How do I legally register a business?

“Registering” a business most often refers to registering the name of a business. In Ontario, it is a legal requirement to register your business name if you are operating a sole proprietorship (1 owner) or partnership (more than 1 owner) under a business name other than your exact legal name. There are 4 ways to register your business name:

i. from the Internet via Service Ontario website

For the registration page, click here

You will need a printer to print off the Master Business License, as well as a valid VISA, MasterCard or American Express credit card. Immediate registration (you can print off from your computer) if done between the hours of operation 8:30am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, for a fee of $60.00 payable by credit card (Visa, Mastercard or American Express). If registration is completed during regular business hours a Master Business License is printed off from your computer right away followed by an electronic saveable copy which can then be printed off when needed) within 2 business days if a valid email address is provided. If no email address is provided a copy will be mailed to you within 10 business days. If done outside the hours of operation or on statutory holidays or Remembrance Day, allow up to 2 weeks for delivery of the Master Business License.

A name search can also be done online for a fee of $8.00.

ii. from the Internet via the Canada Revenue Agency website

Business Registration Online (BRO) is tailor-made for small and medium-sized businesses that do not have complex registration requirements. Registration takes about 30 minutes and costs $60 (payment by credit card only). Name searches are not available with this method of registration. From this site, as well as registering or renewing a business name, you can also site register for:

iii) in person – Service Ontario Counter

Use the Service Location Finder for a list of Service Centres in Ottawa where you can register a business name in person.

Registering at a workstation takes about 30 minutes and costs $60. Limited searches of sole proprietorship, general partnership and corporate trade style names are available at the workstations for $8 per name.

Registering a business name does not give you exclusive rights to the use of the name. You can conduct a name search of existing sole proprietorships and partnerships in Ontario, however this name search is optional as sole proprietorship and partnership names are not protected. You can conduct name searches at a Service Ontario computer ($8 per name) or by mail ($12 per name). (To protect a business name you must incorporate or apply for a trademark.)

Incorporation is another way to register a business. If you want to operate your business as a corporation (a separate legal entity), you must incorporate your business. You can incorporate provincially or federally.

If you wish to name your corporation you must first conduct a NUANS® name search to verify if the name is available, because corporate names are protected. NUANS® is a computerized search system that compares a proposed corporate name or trade-mark with databases of existing corporate bodies and trade-marks. This comparison determines the similarity that exists between the proposed name or mark and existing names in the database, and produces a listing of names that are found to be most similar.

To obtain a NUANS® report, you have the option of ordering your own NUANS® report in real-time from the NUANS “Do it yourself” Real-Time System (RTS) for federal incorporations only, or you may elect the assistance of a NUANS® Registered Search House of your choice to incorporate federally and to incorporate in other jurisdictions.

Provincial incorporation costs $360 plus the cost of forms are available from this provincial government website.  The forms can be filed at Service Ontario located in City Hall, 110 Laurier Ave. W. You can also incorporate on-line through the OnCorp Direct Inc. website or  the Cyberbahn & Marque d’or website.  The cost for on-line filing is $300, plus the service provider’s fee. Payment can be made by credit card or by setting up an account.

Federal incorporation costs $250 if filing in person. If you wish to file in person, you need to check details required by visiting this Corporations Canada webpage. Federal incorporation costs $200 if filing via the Internet at this other Corporations Canada website. More related information is available in the Corporations Directorate’s Small Business Guide to Federal Incorporation.

If you don’t know whether to operate as a sole proprietorship/partnership or a corporation, consult a lawyer and an accountant as each operating structure has different legal and tax implications. Invest Ottawa’s Entrepreneurship Department offers 30-minute legal consultations and accounting consultations at no charge. For more information on business structure and name registration please visit the Canada Business.ca site for a document outlining the differences between business structures: http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng/page/2853/sgc-35/#sgcselect

Can I "write-off' my business expenses?

You can generally deduct business expenses if you incur them for the purpose of producing income. If you claim expenses, you have to be able to back up your claim. You do this by keeping all your business-related vouchers and receipts and recording all your expenses in a journal. Examples of expenses you can deduct include accounting and legal fees, advertising expenses, fees, licenses, and dues, interest and bank charges, meals and entertainment, maintenance and repairs, vehicle expenses, use of a workplace in your home and inventory and costs of goods sold. Typically a percentage of an expense is claimable. For more information see Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)’s income tax guide entitled “Business and Professional Income”. Copies are available at CRA’s office or their website.

Do I need a licence for my business?

To ensure your business complies with Ottawa’s by-laws, visit the business licencing section of the City of Ottawa website. You can also use a new feature on the City of Ottawa website called BizPaL, an online service for entrepreneurs that simplifies the process of finding information on business permits and licences from all levels of government. Alternatively, it’s best to visit in person at a client service location. A listing of the locations is available here (note most centres are open 8:30am – 4:30pm with City Hall opened until 5:00pm). You will receive a Master Business License from the Ontario Ministry of Consumer and Business Services if you register your business name (see Q1). Certain business activities require a permit/license. Permits/licences are granted in most cases by government (federal, provincial or municipal). To verify if you require a permit/license for your business contact the Canada-Ontario Business Service Centre at (800) 567-2345, visit their website or enquire with staff at Invest Ottawa’s Entrepreneurship department.

Market Intelligence Services

What is it?

Invest Ottawa provides up-to-date and practical information on high tech industries, competitors, markets, trends, and best practices. In 2015 alone, the Market Insight team provided approximately $3.5 million worth of reports and analysis to clients.

A team of dedicated analysts will work closely with you to identify the market information you need, culminating in a customized package of market research results tailored to your company’s specific goals.

As a portfolio client of Invest Ottawa, and in partnership with the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs, you will have no-charge access to strategic information from 27 leading global market research databases.

For Ottawa and Eastern Ontario start-up companies that meet certain revenue and investment criteria, access includes: Forrester Research, Business Insights, Datamonitor, Frost & Sullivan, Gartner, IDC, BCC Research, and many more.

How do you access MI and what are the eligibility criteria to qualify for MI services?

To access MI services, the venture must be knowledge-based, and enrolled in the Invest Ottawa portfolio. Once a company is connected with one of our experts, they will be able to access MI services at the experts endorsement.

When can I expect to receive information back?

Based on the complexity of the request received, the MI team will need anywhere from five to 10 business days to process your request. If the nature of the request is urgent and you require data for a meeting or presentation, please alert the assigned EIR and, once the request is endorsed, we will do our best to accommodate your timeline.

Are there limits to the number of times I can access MI services?

There are no limits to the number of times an entrepreneur can access MI services. However, please keep in mind that there is a pipeline of clients waiting to gain access to MI services. To help complete the research process in a timely manner, we request that entrepreneurs prioritize the information they need based on their immediate business goals. Please note that clients must work closely with their EIR. If a client has not worked with their EIR recently, the MI team will refer the client back to their assigned EIR instead.

Can I reference the information from the reports in presentations or business documents?

You cannot copy and paste any figure, table or text from the report(s) provided into business development material, venture pitch or grant application without prior permission from the vendor. You cannot make reference to any market numbers or trends from the reports on your company website without permission – Unless prior permission is received from vendors, no part of the reports can be duplicated for public consumption. After obtaining permission, you must reference the vendor appropriately.

Does the MI team conduct primary research?

The MI team does not conduct primary research. It is an essential skill for entrepreneurs to be able to conduct their own primary research and gain valuable information. However, the MI team can provide guidance on resources and best practices for conducting primary research; for example, guidance can be provided on how to ask effective questions or which resources are available