Going Global: What Links Canada’s Ontario With Munich

As soon as startups start looking for suitable markets for international expansion, most of them probably initially consider the US, China or one or two of their European neighbors. Other promising markets are usually further down the list, such as Canada. In our series “Going Global”, Chris Begley, Head of the Ontario Trade and Investment Office in Munich, introduces the Canadian province Ontario and explains why Munich startups should expand there and the best way to do it.

When German companies set their sights on entering the market in North America, they think of Silicon Valley, New York, Detroit and Boston. These cities are where you need to be to really make things happen. But is that true? Not necessarily. It actually depends on the needs of your company. If you take a look across the northern border of the US to Ontario, Canada, you might just find the key for growing your company there.

Do you need easy access to highly skilled professionals for your company to grow? In an analysis of 50 North American cities conducted by the global consulting firm CBRE, Toronto came in fourth for providing access to highly qualified tech professionals and still came in number 48 in terms of costs. Ottawa ranked number 14 and 47 in the respective categories. Waterloo topped the list of up-and-coming markets. This means you can hire good employees at lower costs – just compare Toronto (85,000 US dollars) or Waterloo (65,000 US dollars) with a city like San Francisco (135,000 US dollars). By the way, no other Canadian province and none of the states in the US – not even California – had two cities in the top 15.

Are you planning to bring your own employees with you to Canada? The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA) makes it simple to conduct intra-corporate transfers of employees with a normal visa procedure – which includes an open work permit for spouses or life partners. With the Global Talent Stream, the Canadian government also offers you the opportunity to bring qualified employees to Canada from all over the world – and the process only takes two weeks!

Ontario as a platform for entering North America

Do you need access to further markets? The province Ontario, which is home to 15 million people, not only has Canada’s highest GDP, but is also situated in the middle of North America with easy access to hundreds of millions of consumers in the Northeast and Midwest of the US. Moreover, you have free access to more countries than any other G7 country thanks to CETA, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

In Ontario, you also have access to an extensive network of universities, industry and business accelerators for hightech startups such as the world-renowned Creative Destruction Lab for artificial intelligence, the MaRS Discovery District, L-Spark (with a focus on SaaS) and many more. There are very few places in the entire world with a similar combination of concentrated hightech and highly developed manufacturing industries – in fact, Munich is the only other place I know with the same kind of coexistence of a flourishing high-tech ecosystem and traditional production. Ontario has even more highlights to offer with its five car manufacturers, pharmaceutical production and Canada’s largest chemical industry.

Support in taking the first steps

All of these factors answer the question of why Ontario could be the key for your company’s growth in North America. Now let’s tackle the question of how, that is the concrete steps to be taken if you’re thinking about setting up shop in Ontario. First of all, Ontario will help you with the first steps in the decision to considering us as a location. We have an office with four employees in the heart of Munich where we can go through the pros and cons with you as well as the question of whether it makes sense to consider Ontario as a platform for you to enter North America.

First of all, starting a business in Ontario is a straightforward process. Because we work with our partners, we can put you in contact with the right lawyers and tax advisors, who can advise you about how to set out in starting your business.

Moreover, we can discuss your personal plans with you. Should you plan to move to Canada, there are support programs available such as the Ontario Immigrant Nominee Program Entrepreneur Stream, which speeds up the process for you to receive permanent residence (based on an investment of at least 200,000 Canadian dollars outside the Greater Toronto Area or 600,000 Canadian dollars within the Greater Toronto Area).

To figure out which location in Ontario is best for your company, the type of branch office that makes most sense or the most suitable piece of property, we offer support to help you select the right location so you can find the right community and best real estate for your company to grow.

Support programs in Canada

We can talk about different support programs and programs that offer financial assistance, such as the R&D tax credit, which you can claim for your research activities in Ontario. That means for the R&D you perform in Ontario, you receive a refund of up to 40% of the qualified expenditures from the government.

If you would like to test the waters in the market, you also have the option of establishing partnerships with companies and research institutions in Ontario. The National Research Council of Canada and the Central Innovation Program for small and medium-sized enterprises (ZIM) carry out several German-Canadian calls for proposals for innovative projects every year. Here as well, our office can help you find partners.

An example of a successful bilateral innovation project that our office was currently involved in is a collaboration between a water technology company from Bavaria and a high-tech company from Ontario. Together, they are developing a product for remote monitoring of bodies of water.


Ontario as a whole offers an attractive and comprehensive total package with a friendly and welcoming business atmosphere, a high quality of living, a multitude of daily direct flights to Munich and Frankfurt – and the world’s second largest Oktoberfest! We would be happy to hear from you if you’re feeling tempted to go north.

Chris Begley

Guest contribution by Chris Begley

Chris Begley heads the Ontario Trade and Investment Office in Munich and is Ontario’s representative in Germany and Austria. The office helps German companies enter the market in North America. You can reach him at: chris.begley@international.gc.ca