Montreal’s MT Lab gets $10 million for tourism innovation fund

MT Lab, a Montreal-based startup accelerator for tourism and entertainment companies, has received a five-year, $10 million commitment from Quebec’s government.

The money will be put towards a new tourism innovation fund that will support innovative projects that improve Québec’s tourism sector.

Here’s what MT Lab’s Martin Lessard told us:

“That money is for several projects that solve identified businesses needs in tourism. The participation of companies is free from any assignment of equity and intellectual property rights. So far, the selection process of the projects has yet to be determined, but it will be based on the orientations of a  director committee. The plan will be presented and approved by the minister by mid-May,” wrote Lessard.
“For the startup ecosystem, entering the tourism industry it will be a lot less risky and much faster than ever. Many tech startups from other industries may now have a hint of the opportunities in the coming months with our brand new Discovery Program, a one-month program (in French) that helps find solutions that can fit the tourism market.”

“This announcement marks a major milestone in the young history of innovation in tourism in Quebec. It is also an exceptional recognition of the MT Lab as well as the actions it has undertaken in recent years,” said MT Lab’s chairman, Pierre Bellerose. “This contribution from the Government of Quebec changes in a sustainable way the work and the influence of the MT Lab by providing for five years the means to achieve our ambitions, for the benefit of all tourism businesses.”

MT Lab was founded in 2017 through the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and its School of Management (ESG UQAM and Tourisme Montréal.

It calls itself the first startup incubator dedicated to tourism, culture and entertainment in North America, and a “meeting point between startups and the tourism community in Quebec.”

Over the past few years, it has relied on a dozen major partners from the tourism, cultural and entertainment sectors for support.

The twelve major partners of the MT Lab are: Aéroports de Montréal, Air Canada, Alliance of the Tourism Industry of Quebec, Quebec Tourism and Hospitality Institute, Loto-Quebec, Musée de la civilization, Palais des congrès de Montréal, Sépaq, Tourisme Montréal, Transat and Très Trois-Rivières, Olympic Park.

The City of Montreal and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy give funding to MT Lab as well.

The eight needs

As part of MT Lab’s latest incubation period, it is asking startups to respond to eight needs which its industry partners have identified.

The first four relate to how a visitor or traveller can benefit from Montreal: Data, Reception, Mobility, Experience. The second four relate to Montreal’s location and its status as a destination: Processes, Human Resources, Promotion and Impact.

MT Lab says the following are innovation trends that respond to the travel industry’s needs:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, predictive analysis
  • Voice, facial and movement recognition/activation (biometric sensors)
  • Contactless interfaces
  • Connected objects (IoT)
  • Robotics/automation
  • 5G telecom
  • Green technology (clean tech)
  • Sport tech, E-sport
  • Food tech
  • Health tech, health and wellness
  • Neuroscience and brain-machine interface
  • Security
  • Augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality (AR/VR/MR)
  • Blockchain

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