McGill University and venture capital firms in Montreal including iNovia Capital will host the McGill iNovia Tech Innovation Day today beginning at 1:00pm.
Along with several prominent speakers including Beyond the Rack’s Yona Shtern and Go Instant’s Ben Yoskovitz, a business pitching competition open to McGill students, researchers and professors will take the spotlight. Up for grabs is a total of $7000 for the top pitches.
The event is a new initiative aimed at fostering a stronger entrepreneurial culture in Montreal and in McGill University.
SEE ALSO: Canadian Launches The Founder Project, a Seed Stage VC Fund for Student Startups
One of the lead organizers is Michael Avedesian, an faculty lecturer in entrepreneurship at McGill’s Desautels School of Business. According to Avedesian the event is just one of many planned with the objective of bringing together current students and successful alumni now running their own startups.
“We’re actively engaging the community in the event,” said Avedesian. “Our whole purpose is to try and improve the environment for entrepreneurship within the university and so we created this partnership with local firms and suppliers.”
One of those local firms is iNovia Capital, the late seed-stage investor that recently made headlines for its leading role in last night’s $5 million round for Guelph-based startup Well.ca. Entrepreneur-in-residence David Nault said that all seven of the finalists selected to pitch at today’s event submitted solid proposals and that university students constantly churn out tomorrow’s innovative ideas. To create a liaison between VC firms, universities and other community groups is extremely important.
“iNovia believes firmly in helping to build a healthy tech community that will have fantastic long term effects, so we don’t stop at building the mature stage companies or the late stage companies,” Nault told Techvibes. “We look at it very much like a farmer where we look back and make sure the soil is good, the seeds are planted and so on. This kind of analogy is how we look at the ecosystem here.”
Antoine Bosselut is a student organizer of the event at McGill University and presides over the McGill Chapter of the National Organization for Business and Engineering (NOBE), a collective of young engineering and management students focused on bridging the gap between the two disciplines. Avedesian asked him in the fall if he would take an active role in the event.
For Bosselut a large part of the day’s value will come from successful alumni coming in and showing current students that entrepreneurship is an attainable reality. He said that the organizers want to change the culture on campus where entrepreneurial ventures will be supported with the right assistance.
“Another big part was to bring in VCs and angels to show that industry is also backing this growing entrepreneurial culture at Mcgill,” he said. “We really want to create an atmosphere where students who want to push forward with their own business ideas know where to get help in starting them.”
SEE ALSO: Does Canada Provide Young Entrepreneurs the Resources They Deserve?
Whoever ends up taking home some of the cash prize for best pitch will be invited to a private dinner with investors, speakers, and organizers where they can continue to discuss their idea in a more personal setting. The money alone won’t launch their business though, according to Nault.
“It’s the whole recognition that comes with it that these people have a really interesting idea and they haven’t just sat on their idea, but they’ve really put some work into it,” he said.