Contest to offer startups chance to reach Canada

Zone Startups India has kicked off the sixth edition of its Next BIG Idea Contest, which offers five startups in the country an opportunity to make a soft landing in Canada.

The startups will be selected for a bespoke two-week market access programme, which includes mentorship, industry connect, investor meetings and international exposure.

Speaking at the launch event in the city on Friday, Zone Startups director Ajay Ramasubramaniam said that since its inception, the contest has attracted over 1,700 applications from across the country, and 27 startups have ‘soft-landed’ in major Canadian cities.

Mr. Ramasubramaniam said, “Seeing the Canadian and Indian startup ecosystem simultaneously and closely, we could see a natural fit and an opportunity to be an enabler. We see the annual Next BIG Idea Contest as [a way to give back] to the ecosystem, by exposing a handful of startups to the Canadian ecosystem and fuelling their international aspirations and enabling the same.”

The applications will be reviewed by panellists from India and Canada on the basis of the product market fit, or if the company has certain early engagements with the provinces of Alberta, Ontario and British Columbia. The deadline for applications is September 15.

“It was very encouraging to see how numerous high quality grant and visa programmes funded by the Canadian government can be successfully utilised by a worthy startup,” Soubhagya Sahoo, the contest winner in 2017, said.

Jordan Reeves, Consul General of Canada, said his country is open to diverse immigrants, especially talented ones with new ideas. “In a global scenario where many countries are closing doors to foreign entrepreneurs, we welcome them wholeheartedly. Our motto is to cherish this openness and embrace various initiatives,” he said.

Joel Fernandes, director, trade and investments, in British Columbia; Sudhiranjan Banerjee, commercial officer for the government of Alberta; and Terrie Romano counsellor, economic affairs, Ontario, gave brief insight into their provinces, the kind of ideas they are expecting and encouraged startups to come up with innovative ideas that can cater to the Canadian market.

International mission representatives, past edition winners, investors, corporates and potential startups were present at the inauguration event.

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