Once your life sciences business gains traction in Canada, international expansion is a natural next step. To help you grow, the Canadian government has created what it calls technology accelerators — business development programs that offer startup support and help you find partners outside of Canada. When your company is ready, these accelerators can jump-start your growth into different markets.
Understanding Canadian Technology Accelerators for Life Sciences
A technology accelerator is a program that helps you explore ways to build your small business outside of Canada. Although Canada has many technology accelerators, there are three that deal with life sciences technology:
- Boston/Cambridge: This accelerator accepts companies that focus on medical topics, including biopharmaceuticals, diagnostics, digital health, and more. Their members also look into emerging food technology. If you join the Boston program, you spend one month in a virtual program, and then four months onsite.
- Philadelphia: The Philadelphia accelerator is designed for businesses that work in patient-centred health information technology and medical devices. This three-month program is mostly online, but also includes a five-day bootcamp and monthly in-person sessions in the United States.
- San Francisco: San Francisco is a good choice if your company works with biopharmaceuticals, medical devices, imaging, or health information technology. As of April 2018, the program is being redesigned. The first version included two one-day onsite programs, market introductions, mentoring sessions, and webinars.
Each of these technology accelerators helps you speed through the process of expanding into the United States. Instead of hunting for education and partners on your own, the program guides you. You can meet potential investors, get mentored by industry leaders, and make valuable contacts. They’re also a great way to meet possible clients. If you’re selling a diagnostic tool, for example, the accelerators can help you find and contact hospitals that could buy your technology.
Could Your Company Use a Technology Accelerator?
As its name suggests, a technology accelerator is a high-speed process. To make the most of it, your company should be solidly established in Canada and ready for growth. At a minimum, most of the accelerators require that you have strong management, a product that fills a unique need in the market, and the potential for expansion. Individual programs have different requirements — to apply for the Philadelphia accelerator, you need to have at least $1 million in annual revenue or investment. The Government of Canada recommends that you speak to your regional Trade Commissioner Service office to decide whether or not you’re ready for an accelerator. Your trade commissioner can also help you decide which program is the best fit.
How to Apply for a Technology Accelerator
Once you have one or more technology accelerators in mind, you can apply online. Expect to provide a great deal of information about your company, including information about the founders and management team, financial statements, and market activity. You must also have an idea of your future goals, including funding needs. It’s a good idea to have your business plan handy to help describe your company.
When you complete and submit the application, it goes to the Trade Commissioner Service. Trade commissioners and industry experts review your materials and decide whether or not your company is right for the accelerator. If you’re accepted, the TCA contacts you and helps you get started.
If your company is ready to expand into the United States, a Canadian Technology Accelerator can help you get there faster. With the resources and industry introductions that are included in each program, it’s easier to get comfortable in the new market and find business opportunities to grow your company.