Canada Startup Visa – What is a Designated Organization?

To formally apply for the Canadian Start-up Visa Program, applicant entrepreneurs need to gain the support of a…

To formally apply for the Canadian Start-up Visa Program, applicant entrepreneurs need to gain the support of a “Designated Organization” in order to come to Canada to launch grow their innovative business idea. These Designated Organizations review the applicant’s business proposal and ensure it fits the Startup Visa Program. Entrepreneurs whose proposals are selected to move forward then receive a Letter of Support from the organization for their Visa. It is a very straightforward process and program.

So what exactly is a Designated Organization? The Government of Canada’s Immigration website outlines exactly what this means:  “Designated Organizations are business groups that are approved to invest in or support possible start-ups through the Start-up Visa Program. Organizations choose which business proposals to review. Each organization has its own intake process for proposals and criteria used to assess them. If an organization chooses to support your business idea, it’ll give you a Letter of Support.”

 There are three types of Designated Organizations that can support your Canada Startup Visa Application.

  • Business Incubators: That’s us! These are organizations that help new business ventures by providing support services like startup consulting, shared office space, product development assistance, grant finding services, and more.
  • Venture Capital Funds:  Are set up by firms of professional investors, where the money is sourced through various external sources. In order to work with a Venture Fund for the Canadian Startup Visa, they must agree to invest over $200,000 CAD into your startup.
  • Angel Investors: Are individuals who contribute their personal finances, advice and business experience towards the initial growth of a small enterprise.

It’s important to note that when you are choosing your Designated Organization that you choose one that suits your business and lifestyle. For example, many business incubators operate on a cohort basis, or will insist that you live in a given area in order to participate in their program. Our incubator will allow a founder to start immediately and live anywhere in Canada – So if a founder is looking for flexibility in location – they should look at an incubator like Empowered that allows for this.

It’s also often advantageous to deal with an incubator that specializes in Startup Visa Programs. Many business incubators follow the jack of all trades model – meaning they are not as well equipped to handle the needs of international founders. It’s important to find a program that is agile and creative,  has a well connected team,  has a team well versed in working with transnational founders, and a team that also is well versed with the ins and outs of the Startup Visa Program.

To apply for the Empowered Startups Canada Startup Visa Program, please visit our website.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio