FedDev Ontario Highlights Successful Program Supporting Next Generation of Entrepreneurs in Ontario

News release

OCE’s SmartStart Seed Fund has helped over 300 start ups and created and maintained over 2,600 jobs with $12 million in funding support since 2015

May 16, 2019 – Toronto, Ontario

A brighter future for Canadian businesses, creators, entrepreneurs and innovators starts with access to the tools and resources needed to push ideas forward, create jobs and grow the Canadian economy.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario, highlighted the success of Ontario Centres of Excellence’s (OCE) SmartStart Seed Fund (SmartStart), which provides capital for high-potential start-up companies as they move from product development to market entry, as well as skills training to help attract investors and commercial partners. The Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has been proud to support this innovative program through $12 million in contributions since 2015—including $3 million in recent funding for the 2019 cohort.

Over the past four years, SmartStart has assisted over 300 start-up companies, attracted over $150 million in investments to advance the companies’ technologies, and created and maintained over 2,600 jobs. With the 2019 cohort, a minimum of 85 additional start ups will receive support, and another 400 jobs are expected to be created and maintained.

Earlier this week, OCE celebrated another successful year during its Discovery 2019 event in Toronto. In the SmartStart Entrepreneur Zone, over 80 SmartStart companies exhibited their work, including innovations in the areas of clean technology, health sciences and information and communications technology.

Through the Government’s Innovation and Skills Plan, we are creating a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation. This project is part of this plan to create good jobs and ensure Canadians have the skills they need to succeed in today’s competitive global environment.


“The Government of Canada recognizes the value of Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) and is proud to continue to invest in OCE through FedDev Ontario, which provides important support for new ventures led by southern Ontario’s next generation of entrepreneurs. Our Government is committed to providing the tools and knowledge necessary for early-stage businesses to grow and create well-paying jobs.”
- The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“Through the SmartStart Seed Fund, OCE is helping more technology- and innovation-focused entrepreneurs grow their start ups and diversify the local and regional economies. The program has a strong track record of results, many of which were on display at Discovery 2019 earlier this week. I look forward to following the progress of the latest cohort benefiting from the support provided by FedDev Ontario.”
- Adam Vaughan, Member of Parliament for Spadina –Fort York

“The SmartStart Seed Fund supports many up-and-coming companies in southern Ontario, assisting them to become the job creators and economic powerhouses of the future. OCE is proud to again deliver this innovative program with support from the Government of Canada, and it was exciting to host this year’s cohort of SmartStart-funded companies at Discovery 2019.”
- Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO, Ontario Centres of Excellence

Quick facts

  • Founded in 1987, OCE is a not-for-profit organization that helps to commercialize innovative emerging technologies with a focus on energy and the environment; advanced manufacturing; advanced health technologies; and information, communications technologies and digital media, originating in the province’s publicly funded colleges, universities and research hospitals.

  • Each SmartStart recipient benefits from up to $32,500 in financing, including up to $30,000 in matching seed funding, and up to $2,500 in early-stage business development skills training through the Discovery Founders Forum. The 2019 SmartStart cohort was selected in spring 2019.

  • This year marks 10 years of FedDev Ontario delivering funding and business services to support innovation and growth in southern Ontario.

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