Startupfest will be the recipient of new and significant funding from all 3 levels of government over the coming years. The funding announcements were made at the StartupFest on Wednesday night.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard was on hand to meet with startups and following those meetings, announced $2.8 million in government funding over the next 4 years. The Federal government has also chipped in $450,000 over the next 3 years, and the city of Montreal has also agreed to provide an additional $1.35 over the next 3 years.
David Lametti, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, made the announcement on behalf of the Federal government. “Startupfest gives a kickstart to the community. It brings Montreal an effervescence and a forum to exchange ideas. It brings innovators and investors together, attracting people from across Canada and from the United States, many of whom are beginning to see MTL ecosystem as a place they need to be”.
For those unable to attend this year, the fest has moved to a fabulous new location on the opposite side of the harbour from the Old Port where it was previously located. This sprawling city park has been transformed into a meeting place for investors, coders, business people, media and other innovators. Organizers estimate the final attendance numbers will be somewhere north of 6,500 people this year, which is a significant increase from 2017.
“Startupfest is well funded to grow over the next 3 years, to serve and support all the entrepreneurs in the city, province and country” says Philippe Telio, Founder of Startupfest. “This site has been a dream for us for 3 years. In terms of how we’re going to augment in the coming years, it’s not a question of spending more money on infrastructure, it’s a question of augmenting the quality and types of people who attend and making sure the event continues to be accessible and affordable for entrepreneurs”.
For example, Startupfest had offered deeply discounted tickets to certain groups who are under represented in the tech sector, to help ensure they are represented at the festival so their ideas can be heard and they can have access to the same investors, tools and advice as everyone else. Startupfest slashed 90% off a batch of tickets, making them as low as $50. This Inclusion Initiative was used for example to encourage more female entrepreneurs to attend the BDC Women in Tech Bootcamp.
Artupfest, Cryptofest and Cannabis fest are all new elements of the Startupfest this year and were all sold out. Telio says there was a tremendous amount of interest in these new elements. “People are trying to figure out, especially around Cannabisfest, where is this industry going to go? It was business people talking about opportunity, it was investors looking to know where they should be investing, and entrepreneurs trying to determine where the big opportunities are going to be”. He pointed out that crypto, artists and cannabis all need the same things as other startups, including funding, client, visibility, distribution and much more. So, for him, bringing these groups together seemed like a natural thing to do.
The governments have injected the funds into this event hoping to see a return over both the short and the long term. Lametti points out that Canada, and Montreal in particular are in a position of strength in AI compared to the rest of the world because investments that were made in the space 20 years ago. That was an investment that paid off for the economy.
Lametti added, “Over the short term, these kinds of events help startups to find their funding, talent and see what others are working on. They get to address their short-term investment needs. In the medium term, the networking opportunities allow them to find partners, VCs and other kinds of collaborators to work with, and that is critically important”.