It is officially accelerator and incubator season.
NEXT Canada has announced that the applications for their Next Founders program are open. The cohort will welcome up to 20 founders of high-potential ventures, and the program will begin in May 2018. Next Founders looks to provide those selected entrepreneurs with a specialized education, access to capital, and introductions to a network of mentors and potential investors. Eligible companies will also receive $30,000 in non-dilutive funding and can often secure workspace in Toronto throughout the program.
To be eligible for that $30,000, ventures must have their headquarters in Southern Ontario and have raised private, matching funding between September 1, 2016 and September 1, 2018.
NEXT Canada ventures first launched in 2010 and have since created over 1,300 jobs in the country. Alumni from the program include some of the most innovative startups in Canada—Nymi, who just raised $15 million this past year; Blue J Legal, who combine AI and law together; and inkbox, creators of two-week tattoos, all call themselves NEXT Canada ventures graduates.
“Next Founders seeks out the country’s most talented entrepreneurs and helps them build upon their initial successes,” said Sheldon Levy, CEO of NEXT Canada. “Next Founders helps them take their ventures to a new level by providing them with the tools they need to grow, and with the confidence that they can scale their company here in Canada.”
The program includes several interactive sessions led by successful Canadian industry leaders. These sessions are in conjunction with masters-level courses taught by faculty from some of the preeminent North America post-sec institutions, including Harvard Business School, MIT, and the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
When the program begins, founders are brought in for 15 hours of immersive content, then given an option to opt-in to flexible summer programming that can be augmented to fit a particular schedule. Those outside of Toronto can shuffle the programming as they see fit, making Next Founders an attractive and flexible option for residents outside of the city.
Programming is typically held at the University of Toronto campus on Thursdays and Fridays. In mid-July, a venture preview night is held that lets potential investors snag a peek at ideas before the official venture day on August 14.
NEXT Canada is itself a non-profit that focuses on increasing national prosperity through innovation entrepreneurship. Formerly known as The Next 36, three programs are offered by NEXT Canada: Next Founders id four founders of seed or growth stage ventures who want to scale; NextAI is an accelerator targeted at early-stage AI-enabled ventures; and Next 36 is for founders of existing ventures who want to build a completely new company with a global impact.
NEXT Canada is the sponsor for the New Startup category in this year’s Canadian Innovation Awards. Automat, Flinks, Zoom.ai and Trexo Robotics have battled it out and one will be crowned new startup of the year on February 22.