MT Lab, the first incubator in North America dedicated to tourism, culture, and entertainment, is accepting applications for the first cohort until May 5th.
The year-long program is a joint effort of UQAM, Tourisme Montréal and the City of Montréal and represents cooperation between the academic, entrepreneurial, and municipal sectors. MT Lab’s mission is to host fledgling entrepreneurs from Quebec, Canada, and abroad in the tourism, transport, festivals, culture, hotel, restaurant, and entertainment sectors.
MT Lab has been made possible in part by a financial contribution of $ 200,000 from the City of Montreal, originating from the Fonds de développement des territoires, a program of the Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Occupation du territoire.
The project came about after a visit to Paris, France in the spring of 2015 to explore all the incubator programs that city had to offer. The delegates from Montreal came across Welcome City Lab, a program dedicated to tourism in Paris, and decided to implement a similar program here.
“Montréal is a catalyst for entrepreneurial strengths, and the start-up ecosystem makes a significant contribution to the city’s economic activity,” said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre. “The MT Lab initiative participates in the sector’s burgeoning activity, while reinforcing Montréal’s draw by building on the innovative energy of young entrepreneurs. The incubator is part of our development strategy for an increasingly innovative and successful metropolis.”
The call for applications from young businesses is already underway, and will continue until May 5th. The program is set to start in June 2017 and will last one year. MT Lab plans to choose between eight and ten startups in various fields such as: technology, digital technology, artificial intelligence, fintech, virtual/augmented reality, new services, linked objects, usage innovation, collaborative and sustainable economy, etc.
— MTLab (@MTLabTourisme) February 1, 2017
“We don’t have too many rules about who can apply because it’s our first group. We hope to receive applications from all kinds of companies, but those chosen must have a precise solution based on one of the areas of interest we have,” Martin Lessard, director of MT Lab told MTLinTECH.
Those accepted will be given the option to use in-house co-working space at UQAM at a discounted price for the duration of the program. The year will be split into four cycles, each with a different focus.
“The first 3 months is going to be focused on bringing all the startups up to speed, to fully know and understand the tourism industry. They have to know what is going on in Montreal, in Quebec, in Canada, and in North America. Then we have a partnership with Welcome City Lab in Paris, and they’ll see how it’s going in Europe and in the rest of the world. In those first three months we want to make them equals of all the other players in the industry. Because I think sometimes there’s a lack on the part of the startup in understanding how it really works.”
The next cycle will focus on value, and making sure each startup has the best possible market fit. The third cycle will be three months again and will work specifically to ensure each startup has everything they need to compete in the new market. This cycle will mainly be focused on how each one can grow.
“The last cycle is going to be getting prepared for the demo days. We’re going to have as many demo days as we have partners. The partner is entering into the project because they want that demo day at the end of the year, and the demo days are specially oriented to their needs.”
This means not all the startups in the incubator will be going to every demo day. Rather, they will attend the demo days for the partners whose needs are the best matchup for their concept.
“We’re also going to also ask other startups outside of the incubator. Any kind of startup will have access if they meet the specific needs of that partner.”
Applicants can apply here up until May 5th.