Looking to kickstart an online business? CANARIE and Cybera are offering free tools for support.

It’s always good to be your own boss, but right now seems to be a particularly good time. Especially if you’re into apps.

Several opportunities have recently come up to help Canadian developers/designers/entrepreneurs shape their products in order to take them to the next level.

CANARIE recently launched a “digital sandbox” for small to mid-sized companies to build and test their apps, products or services. And during its year-long pilot phase – this program will be offered FREE-of-charge!

The service is called Digital Accelerator for Innovation and Research – DAIR – and is similar to the National Grid Service in the UK, which offers e-infrastructure to academics and researchers. DAIR is geared towards companies designing products such as online games, e-banking software, telecom software, web-based apps, etc. As well as speeding up a product’s time to market, the program offers access to the high-speed CANARIE Network, as well as online storage resources.

Visit the CANARIE site to see their call for papers.

Closer to home, for any budding entrepreneur in Calgary, the build-up to our first Startup Weekend is starting to draw some excitement (particularly for those of us who are first-timers). Cybera is running a contest to sponsor the registration fee for one lucky winner. You just need to finish the sentence: “The first step to creating a successful startup is…”

To fill in the blank and be entered in the draw, visit Cybera’s website.