My article for Blog Idol contest: Resources for technology-related startups in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

This article contains some useful information that I inevitably accumulated over the past few years, as a SR&ED consultant and as someone who has recently started a business. It might save you some time that took me to figure out all this. Good luck with your startup!

Various camps, startup drinks, green drinks

Startup entrepreneurs and people who has been there and done that regularly meet to have a drink, exchange battle stories, get a sound advice and find a potential business partner or even an angel investor. Startup Drinks is a simple concept: a grassroots effort to make sure startup folks get in touch and stay in touch.

The same refers to Green Drinks which is a casual, monthly forum for environmentally-oriented individuals to have a few drinks, mingle and toss around ideas.

By the way, the next Green Drinks together with Startup Drinks will happen on May 26 at Grace O’Malleys – 14 Duncan Street, Toronto, from 5:45 to 9:00.

Various camps are also held in Toronto every month. See the description of some in this article. The admission to them is affordable or free. (Some impose a nominal fee to ensure that people who register do indeed show up, and your admission pays for your first drink.) Among other nice get-togethers, I should mention Product Camp and Girl Geeks Dinner.

Democamps

Democamps are such an important feature in the life of Toronto technology scene that it is worth a separate mention. An evening of beer, cocktails and tech demos for designers, developers & marketers, Democamp became quite an institution. It was conceived in Toronto, but now there are democamps in other cities and towns, too.

http://democamp.com/

Creative spaces for independent entrepreneurs

When you work from home, it is very difficult to concentrate! Independent business owners know that better than anyone. Besides, sitting between the four walls tends to get lonely. Because of that, several creative spaces opened in Toronto. Their founders, entrepreneurs themselves, formed a community of like-minded people and opened spaces downtown, offering reasonable monthly rates in a comfortable space. Born from the feeling of collaboration and connection found at events such as BarCamp and tech conferences, coworking is the social interaction of independent entrepreneurs, consultants, freelancers, developers, and writers out of their homes and cafes and into a creative space. A coworking facility is the shared office space for these individuals, where they can work independently in a social way. Rachel Young and Wayne Lee cofounded Camaraderie. Tonya Surman founded Centre for Social Innovation at 215 Spadina, and CSI recently acquired another building in the Annex to expand their space.

(Read more at BlogIdol website…)

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Now vote for the most influential man in Canadian social media

New immigration rules rant

The new immigration occupation list is the stupidest thing I ever heard of. The immigration authorities manage to make the whole thing more and more idiotic every time they change the rules (apparently, human idiocy has no limits).

Now, if you don’t have Canadian experience (haven’t worked or studied in Canada), you only stand a chance to immigrate if you belong to the new occupations list.
Let’s look at each position. Whom does our government want to bring into the country?

Financial Managers – I am not even going to comment THAT.

Financial Auditors and Accountants Yes, with vast experience of working under other countries’ rules, regulations and accounting standards. These people don’t stand a chance of being employed in Canada unless they are willing to start from the ground up again (i.e. from being accounting clerks) and obtain all certification, which may take years.

General Practitioners and Family Physicians (and various other medical personnel) Am I walking the same ground that the government people do? Have they ever heard that it is impossible for a doctor with foreign diploma to work in Canada in the professional quality? Yes, I know that there is a government program for re-certifying foreign doctors, a really huge and ambitious project with throughput of about 40 people a year. (Guess how many doctors will come annually under the new rules.) So, these people will have to join the army of pizza deliverers unless the Government changes the licensing rules which I doubt.

All flavours of managers Again the practicality of the government people is astonishing. How big is a chance that someone who just came into the country will be hired in a managerial role? I’ll tell you. Nil. (Unless we talk about a pop-and-mom shop or, maybe, a very small software development company.)

Various kinds of engineers Last time I heard, you could not work as an engineer without Canadian certification and experience. So these people, too, will be forced to take a survival job and undergo long and expensive process of certification.

Chefs and cooks Have you personally suffered from the shortage of chefs and cooks in Canada? Now, doctors and nurses may be a different story, but no one is going to do anything about it (see above).

This is a real circus. I cannot believe my tax money is wasted on the bunch of harebrained [censored] who came up with this ridiculous list. Now take me, I came to Canada as an independent immigrant, I have been gainfully employed most of the time since then (until I switched to self-employment), I have paid taxes (a lot of them), and all in all, because of my presence in the country, the Canadian economy won and I won and everybody won. Under the new rules, I and a million of other people wouldn’t have stood a chance. Now, instead of that, we are going to get more deceived and frustrated doctors and managers who will have to work as pizza deliverers or go on welfare. Who is going to win? Not they, not I, not you.

Vote for the most influential woman in Canadian social media

Dave Forde, the man behind Toronto Tech Week, asks us to vote in a poll for the most influential woman in Canadian social media.
I voted for Sacha Chua.
Now it’s your turn!
Vote in Dave Forde’s blog

Attend filming of the exclusive “Thinking the Unthinkables” debates

Attend the filming of the exclusive “Thinking the Unthinkables” debates on Nov. 20, 2008. The debates will take place at the Rogers offices in the Velma Rogers Theatre, 333 Bloor St. East.

As part of this group, you will witness a series of engaging debates moderated by Joe Chidley, Editor of Canadian Business and Steve Maich Executive Editor of Maclean’s. Topics will range from integration and immigration to the oil sands and education. You will also have the opportunity to participate in an audience question and answer session after each debate.

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear some of Canada’s brightest minds debating issues important to Canadians (speaker/topic details below). This event is FREE. RSVP to Sarah-Jane.Pearce@publishing.rogers.com.
Read the rest of this entry »

Government incentives for businesses – resource list

For a refreshed and updated list please visit my business website:
A fresher list of government incentives

The resources are mostly for technology and/or design-related Canadian small businesses (some are applicable to other types of businesses as well).

SR&ED – government refund for companies doing research and development
http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/txcrdt/sred-rsde/menu-eng.html

(Check here for more details on SR&ED or contact me at tania@sred4you.com for further information. I can help your company obtain SR&ED refunds.)

OITC (Ontario Innovation Tax Credit) – rider to federal SR&ED http://www.rev.gov.on.ca/english/forms/ct/pdf/0329f.pdf

A comprehensive searchable database of over 250 government programs and services that can help you implement your technology http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/com-inv.nsf/eng/Home

Export Market Access (EMA) is a cost-sharing grant designed to help small to medium sized organizations take advantage of opportunities in foreign markets beyond the US. You can also get a grant for holding an event if it is export-related.

Federal Grants, Subsidies and Contributions Info-Guide with a special focus on entrepreneurs and start-ups http://www.canadabusiness.ca/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=CBSC_ON/display&c=GuideInfoGuide&cid=1184729523117&lang=en

http://www.trra.ca/en/reports/BusinessPrograms.asp – list of federal and provincial business programs

MINISTRY OF RESEARCH AND INNOVATION (Ontario) http://www.mri.gov.on.ca/english/programs/mri.asp

Ontario Business Program Guide http://www.ontario.ca/businessprograms

http://www.2ontario.com/software/government_programs.asp – list of programs with summary information, so you don’t have to check each link separately

City of Toronto incentive programs (plus a limited summary of others)
http://www.toronto.ca/invest-in-toronto/incentives.htm

Ontario New Technology Tax incentive (ONTTI) http://www.rev.gov.on.ca/english/credit/ONTTI/

Ontario Business Research Institute Tax Credit (OBRITC) http://www.rev.gov.on.ca/english/notices/ct/6024.html

Apprenticeship training tax credit
http://www.rev.gov.on.ca/english/credit/attc/index.html

Other Ontario tax incentives
http://www.rev.gov.on.ca/english/credit/index.html

Canadian tax incentives for creative industries

For a refreshed and updated list please visit my business website:
A fresher list of government incentives

Obtaining your free credit report in Canada

Each Canadian is entitled to receiving his or her credit report for free once a year. (Lots of people don’t know that, and the credit reporting companies, for obvious reasons, do not advertise the fact: they’d rather sell you a service for nice $$ per year doing essentially the same thing.)

So here’s how you can obtain the report for free:

By coming in person, in Toronto (by the way, you will not find this information on Equifax’s website)

Go to Equifax office located at 5700 Yonge (@Hendon, one block north of Finch; you can also get there directly from the Finch subway station). This branch used to be at 110 Sheppard East but moved here. The new office is located at concourse level behind the elevators, and there is no sign except for a small printed one.

Make sure you have the following with you:

      all addresses that you lived at for the last 5 years
      2 pieces of ID(*) including one with your current(**) address
      something interesting to read, as the line may be quite long.

——
(*) These have to be official pieces of ID, including one with a photo. E.g. a plastic driver’s license or a passport or a major credit card and a bank statement. Pay stubs and OHIP cards do not qualify.
(**) I saw a woman turned back because she had moved recently (having indicated the fact on her application) and all her documents still showed the old address. She produced a pay stub with the new address, but it would not do.

You get the printed report immediately. Please note that you cannot obtain your credit score that way; with Equifax, it can be only done online for $$.

By mail from anywhere in Canada

You will find the instructions here in small print on the right side of the screen under “Related resources”.