A scientist at Mara Renewables hired through the Graduate to Opportunity program.

Innovate to Opportunity hiring incentive

Hire a recent master’s or PhD graduate to help your business become more innovative and export-oriented and the Government of Nova Scotia will cover a portion of their salary.

Innovate to Opportunity (ITO) is helping well-educated graduates start their careers in Nova Scotia while helping businesses become more innovative and export-oriented. The program provides an incentive to hire recent masters and PhD grads for jobs that are focused on research and innovation that will help businesses begin, prepare for, or expand exports.

Innovate to Opportunity is a youth employment program.

Who can apply

This program is available to small and medium-sized businesses with up to 500 full-time employees operating in Nova Scotia.

To be eligible for the program, employers must create a new full-time position that:

  • is based in Nova Scotia
  • is focused on innovation
  • pays at least $60,000 a year

You are not eligible for this incentive if you will receive other government wage funding for the position, although you may receive funds for related projects.

The new hire must have successfully completed a master’s or PhD program at a recognized university within a year of the date the employer’s application is received. Please see canlearn.ca for a list of the post-secondary institutions this program recognizes.

The program can’t consider graduate-employees who have been working for the employer on a permanent basis before the ITO application is approved.

How it works

Employers can receive salary incentives in one of two streams:

Innovation Stream

Employers receive:

  • 35% of the graduate’s annual salary in Year 1
  • 20% in Year 2
  • 12.5% in Year 3

up to an annual salary of $100,000.

At least 25% of the new graduate's time must be spent on any combination of activities such as:

  • applied research
  • product and service development
  • market analysis for new complex products or activity
  • improvement of product quality, customer services and business efficiencies
  • process development or improvement
  • technical feasibility studies and pilots for product launches or market entry

The work should be expected to help the company prepare for, begin or expand exports.

Advanced Innovation Stream

Employers receive:

  • 50% of the graduate’s annual salary in Year 1
  • 25% in Year 2
  • 12.5% in Year 3

up to an annual salary of $100,000.

At least 75% of the new graduate’s time must be spent on any combination of the activities required of the Innovation Stream. The work must also have an explicit connection to export development or growth.

A diversity bonus of an additional 10% can be provided in the 1st and 2nd years of both streams, if the graduate is a woman in an under-represented occupation, self-identifies as a racially visible minority, is Mi’kmaq or Indigenous, an international student or a person with a disability.

How to apply

If your business is registered in the online Labour Market Programs Support System (LaMPSS), you can apply now.

Start now

If you don’t have a LaMPSS account, you can register by completing the External Access Form and emailing it to lampss@novascotia.ca.

Before applying, please read through the program guidelines. These guidelines will help you determine if Innovate to Opportunity is right for your business and provide detailed instructions for applying.

Contact Information

Labour, Skills and Immigration
PO Box 697
Halifax, NS
B3J 2T8

Phone: 902 424-6000
Toll Free: 1-800-424-5418
Fax: 902 428-2037


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