A new bilateral program between the cities of Montreal and Paris, France, will give 10 startup companies in each city the chance to open up new markets overseas.
Organized by the International Startup Festival and the Paris&CO incubator, the Echange Startup Montreal – Paris 2016 program will provide three months office space at an incubator in Montreal for select Paris startups, and three months office space at an incubator in Paris for Montreal startups.
The targeted timeline for the program will be May, June and July of this summer.
Phil Telio, Startup Fest’s founder, said it was originally a unilateral initiative between him and his colleagues at Paris&CO that sought only to send Paris startups to Montreal. Once the mayoral office of Anne Hidalgo (Paris) got word of the plans, they stepped in and suggested it be an official program between both cities, to which Telio enthusiastically agreed.
On organizing the initiative, Telio said it came through Startup Fest’s “constant efforts to build international bridges for our wonderful city,” and in trying to create more value beyond simply running the international event.
“We’re running this contest to build bridges between our two cities and to get our two ecosystems communicating and exchanging,” Telio told MTLinTech. “For any Montreal companies interested in opening up in the European market, they now have the opportunity to go and work in Paris for three months, and vice-versa.”
Denis Coderre, Montreal’s mayor, said the two cities have “everything to gain” by encouraging young, innovative companies to build bridges.
“I thank the International Startup Festival in Montreal and the Paris&Co agency for this great startup exchange initiative between our two cities,” said Coderre. “Promoting our respective talents through Paris and Montreal’s cooperation agreement perfectly fulfills the commitment that Anne Hidalgo and I have made to our digital ecosystems.”
Those startups from Paris will also receive a free ticket to the International Startup Festival, which carries a face value of several hundred dollars, along with the office space, which has a price tag of over CA $1,000.
“Our intention is to integrate Parisian startups into places like Notman House. That’s real value: it’s more than a $1,000 gift. But the more important value is being able to connect and work out of one of those spaces with the intent of opening up larger markets,” said Telio.
Neither flight or living costs will be provided in the current agreement, but Telio said he wants to see that change as the program matures. It’s possible that various organizations will offer more perks through sponsorship as the initiative grows stronger, which could, one day, include flight costs.
“For now it’s a bootstrapped process,” said the Startup Fest founder. “We don’t have a whack of money to pay for people to fly out, but there are programs for Quebec companies that help pay for flights to go open up new markets, so were currently talking to them.”
Ultimately, Telio sees similarities in culture between Montreal and Paris, not the mention the obvious linguistic one. He thinks it’s a natural fit for both cities to be working together in promoting entrepreneurship.
“Startups are the engines of growth of any modern city,” said Telio. “In a very concrete way, this program will strengthen and promote the natural link between Paris and Montreal.”
The folks at Paris&Co, including co-director Karine Bidart, had some kind words towards the new program.
“One of the objectives of Paris&Co is to create diverse opportunities and to add value for startups. Montreal is a global city with a wide pool of promising startups. We look forward to welcoming some of these talented entrepreneurs here in Paris for three months of intense work,” said Bidart.
Those companies that wish to apply for the program can do so here.