National Bank CEO Louis Vachon came to Notman House bearing gifts on Thursday morning. The well known financial sector executive announced the bank he leads will be donating $1 million to the OSMO foundation to help encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in Montreal.
“Entrepreneurship is not just an economic issue, but a cultural one.” Vachon told the audience, adding that the National Bank was founded by entrepreneurs and for entrepreneurs. In fact, the bank has been working with the OSMO foundation for 5 years now, and with its sister organization, Real Ventures, since 2017. Today’s investment means the bank has now quadrupled their commitment.
Vachon walks the walk. National Bank has been a source of sponsorship dollars for tech hubs at the University of Sherbrooke, Laval University, McGill University and of course the IEBN at HEC. Of course, these are all university affiliated. The CEO who is also on the board of the OSMO Foundation, tells MTLinTech that this investment in OSMO is designed to encourage collisions and collaboration while breaking down silos. “One of my frustrations historically has been the lack of coordination between the different parts of the ecosystem in Montreal. Which may be due to old French – English division, and each of the universities have their own thing. So at least now OSMO has a clear mandate for better coordination within the community”.
OSMO’s CEO, Patrick Gagné, says a portion of the funds will be diverted into a Canada-wide FinTech competition, the details of which have yet to be finalized. A problem will be defined by the bank and Canadian companies will be invited to develop a solution. “Clearly our mission is to unify the Ecosystem and make it clear for the Entrepreneur as well” says Gagné. “We’re working on 3 KPIs. The first is internationalization and globalization of startups to scale quicker. The second is collisions. How do we increase collisions among entrepreneurs? That’s a KPI we need to work on. And the third one is a sense of community. We have to work on providing entrepreneurs a tighter support network so that they can resolve their issues among themselves, among investors and other groups”. He points out that many of the most successful startup ecosystems have a “How can I help you” mindset, and he hopes to encourage that even more here in Montreal as OSMO’s role in the ecosystem continues to evolve.
Notman house, created by the OSMO Foundation, is home to about 200 startups in one form or another, and to countless industry events every year.