As a mid-sized city, London is an ideal place to start or invest in an existing business. With its smaller community, London is an ideal place to develop and test a business before entering bigger markets. You can enjoy London’s lower cost of living and still be only a few hours away from several larger cities (Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph, Hamilton, and of course - Toronto), and several border crossing points into the United States of America.
In London, you’re never without opportunities for support and guidance for your business. Various agencies provide, in many cases free, support and even funding for start-ups. While funding is never guaranteed, you can apply for a loan or grant program based on advice from professionals who have been through the process themselves.
Organizations offering advice and support to help start a new business in London, ON
Thinking about starting a business? The London Small Business Centre (SBC) has tools and resources to help you fully explore your idea, decide if it’s the right choice for you, and to do the research and planning to make your business a reality.
Some of SBC’s programs include topics such as: starting a company, self-employment, and specialized programs for starting companies in the trades sector and food production sectors. For more information specific to your business idea, you can book a personal consultation with a member of their team.
The SBC also performs frequent online webinars on various topics that you can register for, and many webinars are also available on-demand whenever you’d like to watch them.
London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC) celebrates and supports small business owners and is working hard to build a strong and resilient business growth ecosystem where founders and growth companies can find support, practical advice, and insightful mentorship. LEDC provides scale-up support services to founders of growing businesses in London’s key sectors. View the LEDC newsletter for more information.
TechAlliance creates an entrepreneurial culture, launches new startups, and accelerates growth for established tech companies, while attracting the next generation of tech talent and innovative entrepreneurs in Southwestern Ontario.
The London Chamber of Commerce is a politically independent, membership based, volunteer driven, not-for-profit organization whose mission is to lead and serve the London business community..
Propel Entrepreneurship is quickly emerging as one of Southwestern Ontario's most active startup accelerators. Located at Western University, the centre provides co-working space, seed funding, world-class mentorship, and hosts training programs, events and workshops for startups at all stages of growth. Propel is also the home of PSI, a sales-focused incubator program for the region’s most promising entrepreneurs.
Leap Junction is Fanshawe College’s entrepreneurship centre, which provides one-on-one consultations, opportunities for networking, events, and workshops for any student or alumni interested in exploring entrepreneurship. For students or alumni who wish to start their own business, Leap Junction can be a workspace and entrepreneurial hub. Additionally, they provide a summer incubator program that focuses on business-growth and in-depth education to promote the success of registered clients.
City of London Business Supports is the City of London's page for resources related to new business applications, permits, and licensing requirements, which includes a link to the BizPal Online Business Permits and Licensing tool.
BizPaL provides entrepreneurs access to information about business permits, licences and other requirements needed to start, operate and grow their business from the federal, provincial/territorial and participating municipal governments. The City’s page also includes information about business development areas in London, which are specific parts of the city focused on creating opportunities for new businesses.
The Service London Business Website is the City of London's online resource for starting a business. The site provides a step by step checklist to starting your business, as well as resources for help with each step of the process.
Starting a business in Ontario for newcomers and immigrants
Several organizations at the provincial and federal levels work specifically with immigrants to help them start a new business or buy an existing Canadian business. Some of these programs can also contribute towards an immigrant’s application for permanent residency and/or citizenship.
The Entrepreneur Stream of the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program (OINP) enables immigrants to pursue permanent residency by starting or buying an Ontario-based business. Once the business is established, entrepreneurs are able to be nominated for permanent residency. There are specific financial and operational requirements for businesses to be eligible for this program. Learn more about how to apply for the OINP here.
Start-up Visa Program from the Government of Canada to understand language-testing requirements, job categories, and more. Find an organization to support your idea and learn more about working in Canada temporarily while awaiting your permanent residency results. The Global Skills Strategy is a related program that allows certain highly-qualified individuals to get a work permit processed in only two weeks.