The Canadian government has approved a business incubator program affiliated with Ryerson University’s Digital Media Zone (DMZ) to foster international entrepreneurs.
Ryerson Futures Inc. (RFI) is now a part of the government’s Start-Up Visa Program which selects talented entrepreneurs from around the world and helps accelerate their businesses while providing them a Canadian visa.
The five-year pilot program is designed for immigrant entrepreneurs who are capable of building companies and creating jobs on a global scale, according to its website. To be issued a visa, accepted entrepreneurs must be supported by a designated Canadian venture capital fund, angel investor group or business incubator, such as RFI.
“Being approved under the Start-Up Visa Program means that more talented international entrepreneurs will have access to Ryerson Futures and the Digital Media Zone,” says DMZ’s media relations officer Lauren Clegg.
RFI selects technology-based startups and offers tools such as seed investments, office space, networking opportunities, contacts, and sales leads, Clegg says.
Until now, RFI has only worked with Canadian businesses. RFI is not exclusive to Ryerson but allows its portfolio of startups to access research and resources of the university.
Companies accelerating through RFI have raised over $11 million, Clegg says.
“Innovation and entrepreneurship are essential drivers of the Canadian economy,” said Jason Kenney, the citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism minister, in April 2013 when the program began accepting applications. “That is why we are actively recruiting foreign entrepreneurs — those who can build companies here in Canada that will create new jobs, spur economic growth and compete on a global scale — with our new startup visa.”
The program has received criticism for issuing only five visas since then, a small number that may be due to the intensive application process. Applicants must secure a significant investment, be proficient in English or French, and have funds for themselves and their dependents upon arrival in Canada.