Kingston’s Startup Ecosystem Landscape

The city of Kingston is a leader in the Canadian Economy, ranking number one in industrial and academic research and development.

Post-Secondary institutions are developing world-class talent along with specialized research institutions and dedicated incubators, technology commercialization programs, and accelerators which positions the city as a leader in strategic industries. In addition, the 1000 km of fiber optics cable, proximity to markets and workforce make Kingston an ideal location for investment to founders and companies that are looking to tap into the city’s unique assets and strengths. Recently, Frulact Group and Feihe International Inc. chose Kingston for their Canadian operations. *(Source: FDI Benchmark 2019 compared to 15 Canadian Cities).

Strategically located to facilitate entrepreneurs to reach global markets, Kingston is centrally located, less than a three-hour drive to Toronto, Montréal or Ottawa, and less than six hours to New York City or Boston. Kingston ranks 1st in Canadian cities with a population between 0.1 - 0.5 million based on StartupBlink’s Global Startup Ecosystem Index 2022. Concerning the industry ranks Kingston ranks 4th for Health, 6th for Energy & Environment and 7th for Hardware & IoT in Canada. Concerning the Coronavirus Resilience Map, Startup Blink together with the Health Innovation Exchange Program by the United Nations, the city of Kingston ranks at the 49th position globally and 4th in Canada.

The city especially excels in Education, Healthcare, Biotech, Metallurgy Agri-food Processing and Clean Technology industries.

The multicultural City of Kingston houses a population of close to 200,000 and provides startups access to a highly-skilled talent pool. The city is cosmopolitan, offering startups easy access to the global markets and an inclusive environment with diverse nationalities and beliefs that have thrived over the past under an established corporate culture.

The area around Kingston is the third-largest GDP concentration in North America. Perched at the western end of the St. Lawrence Seaway, Kingston is home to many famous heritage sites. Within a small radius around the city thrives a population of around 200,000.

The Kingston Economic Development Corporation has made substantial investments to create and establish ties with the United States through the Kingston-Syracuse pathway. Focusing on economic development, the collaboration between Queen’s University, Kingston, universities in Syracuse and New York facilitates regional economic development strategies for startups working in health, innovation and cleantech. This initiative has developed a corridor for Kingston-based startups trying to enter the US market.

Kingston boasts of countless startups working in the fields of clean technologies, biotech and life sciences, smart cities, software technologies, food and agriculture. The city’s local business community and research organizations, backed by industry-friendly government initiatives, are paving the way for a robust economy.

With its world-class post-graduate institutes, the city readily avails rich human capital to startups. Notable institutes like Queen’s University, St. Lawrence College and Royal Military College enable startups with ready access to faculty and research opportunities. Around 30,000 students graduate from these institutes yearly, providing ready human capital for its startups.

Kingston is welcoming startups with facilities like GreenCentre Canada incubating chemical startups at its multi-million dollar lab and helps them in scaling up by making them work closely with top chemical engineers of the world.

Moreover, the local government is extremely involved with local businesses in Kingston, minimizing the risk for entrepreneurs, offering resources and events and setting up programs to encourage startup formation and improving the startup infrastructure. The story of Kingston’s startup ecosystem is a successful one. This is an ecosystem that knows how to market itself, implement policies for startups and offer well-thought incentives.

Notable startups

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Kingston houses many startups providing innovative solutions for various national and international issues. Notable among the lists of startups are as follows:

Li-Cycle – The startup has developed a creative solution for recovering critical constituents from lithium-ion batteries and restoring them to the supply chain. It aims at mitigating waste generation as Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are increasingly powering our world and meeting the fast-rising demand for critical and scarce battery-grade materials.

Distributive - The startup has developed the Distributed Computer Protocol (DCP), a distributed High-Performance Computing framework built on web technology. DCP allows hospitals, universities, governments and enterprises to run data processing, predictive analytics and smart applications ﹣ without the cloud.

Tecta-PDS - The startup has developed a fully automated Pathogen Detection system to perform on-site regulatory compliance testing for E. coli and Total Coliform bacteria in the drinking water distribution system. It is the world’s first EPA-approved microbiological water quality testing mechanism.

Elantra - Elentra is a cloud-based teaching aid, scheduling system and assessment tool all-in-one. Elentra was originally developed at Queen’s University and now used all around the world. Elentra empowers academic institutions to train the next generation of health-care professionals to better serve patients and advance medical research.

Octane - Powering transformative healthcare, the startup provides the most advanced bioreactors, bioprocesses and biomaterials required for regenerative medicine.

Accelerators and Incubators

Kingston offers several accelerators to help startups navigate the local landscape and scale up globally. Following are some of the most prominent accelerators and incubators of the city.

Compass North - Created in partnership with Queen’s University and hosted by L-Spark, Compass North is a Kingston-based five-month accelerator program for women-led companies.

Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Center - The Queen’s University established the innovation center to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among students and budding entrepreneurs from the city. The center provides access to incubators, accelerators and workshops for startups prying for mentorship.

Launch Lab - It is a unique program designed by entrepreneurs to support newcomers. It brings entrepreneurs face to face with experienced business owners for one-to-one mentoring and supervision for setting up a successful venture. Having a team of experienced entrepreneurs, the program offers advisory services.

FedDev Ontario - The federal economic development agency (FedDev) has put in $3 million in Kingston to place it as a destination for testing, developing and commercializing innovative healthcare solutions. Besides this investment, the agency has funded WE-CAN to empower and support aspiring women-identifying entrepreneurs by availing the proper infrastructure.

KPM Accelerate - It is a first of its kind chemical accelerator program for startups. It provides backing to incubated startups and SMEs trying to disrupt the field of chemical processing, advanced materials, chemical energy and material transformation.

These are just a few examples, the city has a wide range of programs targeting different startups, such as:

  • RXN Hub
  • Innovate Kingston
  • Queen’s Tech and Media Association (QTMA)
  • LaunchLab Kingston
  • Wings MVP Acceletaor at Queens Partnership & Innovation
  • Queen’s Startup Runway
  • The Hive
  • Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator program
  • QyourVenture
  • enLIGHT
  • Build2Scale Health
  • Trade Accelerator Program

Coworking spaces

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Sanctuary coworking: Located in a historic Kingston church, Sanctuary Coworking is housed in a beautiful limestone structure. Built in 1864, the workspace preserves its function as a hub for collective learning, shared experiences and community gatherings.

Seaway coworking: Seaway Coworking space is a flexible office solution that hosts several business accelerator programs for innovation and entrepreneurship in downtown Kingston.

Advanced Research and Tech Commercialization Services

  • Green Center Canada
  • KPM Accelerate
  • Centre for Advanced Computing
  • Ingenuity Labs
  • Human Mobility Research Lab
  • Kingston Nano-Fabrication Laboratory
  • Cancer Research Institute
  • Canadian Institute for Military & Veteran Health Research
  • GeoEngineering Centre
  • International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation
  • Translational Institute of Medicine (TIME)
  • Providence Care Research Institute

Innovation Acceleration & Technology Commercialization Programs

  • Queen’s Partnership and Innovation
  • Launch Lab
  • KPM Accelerate
  • Health Innovation Kingston (HI YGK)
  • GreenCentre Canada

Notable Multi-National Businesses & FDI in Kingston

  • Dupont
  • Invista
  • Novelis
  • Canada Royal Milk
  • Frulact
  • Lonza

Access to Funding

  • Southeastern Ontario Angel Network (SOAN)
  • Ontario Center of Innovation Eastern
  • Ontario Development Fund Federal Economic
  • Development Agency for Southern Ontario
  • SDTC
  • MITACs
  • NGEN

Start Up Visa Programs

  • SPARK Center
  • Latam Startups


The City of Kingston has a sophisticated network of highways, railways and air transportation that is fully integrated with U.S networks.


Direct access to highway 401 and a short drive to the 1000 Islands Bridge and Interstate 81 which offers direct access to all major cities in the Northeast & Midwest United States.


Kingston is an express stop between Montreal and Toronto for VIA Rail. 5th busiest station in Canada


YGK – Kingston Airport located in the west end part of the City of Kingston is open and carrier service flights between Kingston, Toronto and Montreal.

$16M expansion of terminal and runway complete

Picton Terminals deep water dock

  • Water - HWY H2O Kingston is located on the shores of the St. Lawrence River with easy access to Picton
  • Terminals deep water port with container capacity.
Main Strengths of the Kingston Startup Ecosystem
    • #1 Small City for Foreign Direct Investment
    • Top #10 most affordable Large Cities in Ontario
    • Ranked #5 Top City to Buy Real Estate in Canada
    • Ranked the best city in Canada for young, talented workers and home to three world-class post-secondary institutions
    • Unparalleled research & development potential with 30+ research labs, and more than 30,000 students from world-class post-secondary institutions
    • Strategic Location: 25 million people live within an 8-hour drive of Kingston
    • Best Startup Community in the World (StartupBlink, 2020)
    • Ontario has virtually tariff-free access to 142 million consumers within a day’s drive and beyond to 500 million consumers in North America with a combined GDP of $24 Trillion
    • Ontario has more than 4,500 food establishments (over 500 organic)
    • Waived development charges
    • Kingston is experiencing healthy GDP growth at 1.7% in 2019 with a sustainable talent pool
Ecosystem Milestones

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