During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Canadian tech organizations seeking to expand in foreign markets are in need of support. These businesses can look to the Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) program, which helps companies with an established product or service to export and expand in international markets. CTAs are located in major international tech hubs, and provide small tech companies with mentoring and workspace, as well as introductions to potential partners, investors, and customers.
There are currently seven CTAs, including three in the US—Boston/Cambridge, New York City, and San Francisco/Silicon Valley—and four in Asia—Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, and Taipei.
CTAs from Global Affairs Canada: What Are They?
The Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) program is funded by Global Affairs Canada to help Canadian technology firms scale up by connecting them to international support and opportunities.
While specific services vary by location, generally CTAs offer four- to six-month programs where participants get working space, coaching, introductions to potential partners, meetings with potential clients and investors, and opportunities for market validation.
For participating companies, the CTA has resulted so far in $510M in capital raised, $190M in revenues, 996 strategic partnerships, and 2,125 new jobs.
Over 500 Canadian technology companies have accelerated their growth by gaining a foothold in international innovation hubs through the CTA.
Who Can Benefit from a Canadian Technology Accelerator?
CTAs primarily support small tech companies in three sectors: cleantech; life sciences; and information communication tech (ICT), robotics, and devices. To be eligible for support, companies must have a well-developed product with market traction in Canada and be ready to enter international markets. Companies should also have an experienced management team and strong potential to scale.
Companies invest a significant amount of time and money in the program, as senior personnel spend several months participating in the CTA initiative.
Where Are the CTAs & How Do They Help with Market Expansion?
The Boston/Cambridge CTA provides tailored mentorship teams that help participating companies scale up, as well as several additional services. Boston/Cambridge targets high-potential companies in ag tech, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), FinTech, Internet of Things (IoT), data analytics, robotics, SaaS, security, and life sciences.
New York City
The Canadian Technology Accelerator in New York offers two programs:
- Cybersecurity CTA, for companies with technologies in cybersecurity, privacy, and compliance, to help them gain in-market support and training, and assistance in pursuing business and investment leads.
- US Cleantech Program, for companies with any technologies that result in resource efficiencies (other than labour). Participants gain background intelligence on local markets, as well as access to a dedicated sector expert to help with targeted introductions and connections.
San Francisco/Silicon Valley
At this CTA location, high-potential Canadian companies can choose from three programs:
- US Cleantech Program (see description under “New York City”)
- Digital CTA, for companies in big data analytics, enterprise software and SaaS, cybersecurity, augmented and virtual reality, IoT, and AI/ML. The program provides an entry point to funding, partnerships, and business development.
- CTA Health, for innovative, Canadian life sciences companies. Participants receive strategic business intelligence, in-market experience, connections to local venture capitals and possible partners, and tailored guidance from mentor teams.
The Hong Kong CTA serves Canadian FinTech and Property Tech companies with access to virtual programming, introductions to potential customers and investors, mentorship, training, strategic market intelligence, and a co-working space in Hong Kong’s central business district.
Canadian companies operating in AI, IoT, auto and mobility tech, and digital health can apply to the CTA in Tokyo, Japan. The program targets later-stage tech companies that have the resources and the capacity to develop in the Japanese market. It offers co-working space, exclusive access to in-market events, a dedicated Trade Commissioner, and other services.
The Singapore CTA offers dynamic market opportunities for Canadian companies operating in cleantech, FinTech, AI, smart cities, agtech, and life sciences. Participants benefit from a highly tailored program, individualized for each company’s needs, which includes a range of business development and investment-raising activities.
To remain globally competitive, Taiwanese conglomerates are seeking new technologies to integrate into their existing portfolios. The Taipei CTA therefore offers business matching, product-market validation, co-working space, and other services to Canadian tech companies working in AI, IoT, and digital health.
Due to the program’s success, Global Affairs Canada plans to expand the CTA program with new centres to open in Berlin, London, Mexico City, and Delhi. Details will be forthcoming.
How Can I Apply to a Canadian Technology Accelerator?
Management teams that think their companies meet the eligibility criteria should decide which sector and CTA location is the best fit for them. The application process is competitive, and applicants must fill out an online application form. This is reviewed by the Trade Commissioner Service and a panel of industry judges.
Depending on the target CTA location, applications may need to be submitted by a specific deadline or may be accepted throughout the year.
Where Can I Find Canadian Government Funding for Exporting & Other Activities?
Canadian tech companies looking to grow their international presence may also wish to explore the Canadian International Innovation Program (CIIP), which supports collaborative international research projects between Canadians and partners in foreign countries. The federal government also offers the CanExport program, which provides funding to help companies participate in international trade shows and missions.
Download the Government Funding Checklist from Mentor Works to set your startup or entrepreneur business up for successful funding applications down the road.