The following post is written by Innovacorp marketing & communications specialist Michaela Meltzer Gardner.

Meet our newest resident at the Innovacorp Enterprise Centre, Gene Sobolev. He brought his company to Halifax from Germany under the Start-Up Visa Program. He was happy to share some information about his experience with the Program and Innovacorp.

Q: How did you first come across the Innovacorp Start-Up Visa Program?
A: I wanted to move my company to North America as most of our customers are located here.
Once I decided to move, I started comparing US to Canada and really liked what Canada had to offer – employing people here would be cheaper than in the US, plus Canada is the most educated country in the world.
I should also highlight that there’s a lot of talent in the fields of data science and machine learning, which are most relevant to us – some of the top AI experts in the world like Geoffrey Hinton and Yoshua Bengio teach at Canadian universities.
So, I read on the IRCC website about the Start-Up Visa Program and applied to a few organizations that work with the program.

Q: How did you decide to come to Halifax and choose Innovacorp?
A: We were accepted by a few programs but Innovacorp was the most proactive and the most well-connected. Things moved quickly and the people at Innovacorp were amazing to work with.
Halifax itself has three universities, lots of dilutive and non-dilutive capital and a mindset for innovation. Geographically, it’s located exactly four hours between London, and the Pacific coast, conveniently covering all our markets.

Tip: Since Innovacorp is government-funded, it has completely different capabilities than other accelerators, both in connections and support.

Q: What was the Innovacorp process like?
A: First, I just reached out and had a casual conversation. Once we saw there was a fit, things moved quickly from there.
I held a presentation via Skype in front of a committee and submitted all supporting documents for due diligence. I got a positive reply within just a few days after the presentation!
After that, Innovacorp prepared a package for IRCC, which included all the due diligence materials, including articles of incorporation, annual income reports, shareholder agreements, etc. Once the package was ready, I was able to apply to the federal government.

Q: What did the federal process look like?
A: Besides the company documents, I also had to prepare personal ones. It took me about two months to collect all the materials for the application. After receiving the documents, it took IRCC exactly six months to process it and come back with a positive reply.

Q: How long after you were accepted until you moved to Halifax?
A: It took me four months to come to Halifax after being accepted. I wanted things to go smoothly so I took my time to prepare.

Tip: To avoid interruptions to your business, I recommend opening the Canadian company remotely. Innovacorp helped me with the process and I had a very smooth transition as a result.

Q: What were your first impressions of Halifax?
A: Wow! So many and so positive! I think we should cover this in a separate post.

Check out Gene's company, Halifax Data Labs.


Halifax, Nova Scotia, April 27, 2018