Zone Startups, the global brand of technology accelerators, operated by Toronto-based Ryerson Futures Inc., operates multiple own-branded, and corporate accelerators in India and Canada. Zone Startups flagship program in India, Zone Startups India is set up as a joint venture with the BSE Institute and Simon Fraser University (Vancouver, Canada), and partly funded by Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

Zone Startups India has been at the forefront of operating niche initiatives, empoWer – to accelerate startups founded by women entrepreneurs; and the Next BIG Idea Contest, to provide soft-landing in Toronto and thereby North American market access to Indian startups. Both these programs have had great success stories, and have emerged to be proven platforms for enabling growth of early stage startups.

On the back of empoWer and Next BIG Idea Contest, Zone Startups has been chosen by the Canadian Government and Indian Government to establish a new bi-lateral program to support entrepreneurs from both countries, through a market access program. The program is jointly funded by respective ministries from Canada and India, under the aegis of the Canada-India S&T Agreement.

Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Navdeep Bains and Dr. Anita Gupta, Associate Head, NSTEDB, DST will make this special announcement about the new program, on Tuesday 20th February, at Zone Startups India - which will operate this initiative on behalf of both the Governments. Dr Anita Gupta, Scientist – G, Advisor, Associate Head, NSTEDB, DST, Government of India says, “DST, Govt of India are pleased to partner with Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, Canada to accelerate innovation value chain and technology commercialization through initiatives having special focus on women entrepreneurs of both the countries. Such a bilateral engagement facilitated by key stakeholders, govt, accelerators, incubators and companies aim to lead ways for better economic and social development of both the countries.”

Matt Saunders, President, Zone Startups says, “We believe that the potential of startups, in todays day and age, tends to be global markets. However, not many have the opportunities and support required to launch their product and services outside their home market. Through this program, we are hoping to open newer markets for startups on both sides of the border in terms of new clients, talent and capital access. With our strong footprint and network in Canada and India, we are well positioned to help companies from both countries to grow in a new market.”

To drive this initiative, the Canadian and Indian Governments have jointly funded the program, to identify 20 startups annually over the next 2 years and support them with a market access program.

Ajay Ramasubramaniam, Director (India), Zone Startups says, “At Zone Startups, our focus at all times is to play the role of a catalyst, and enable startups by way of providing validation, mentorship, corporate connects and investor access. This program, with financial support from the Canadian and Indian Governments is a testament to validation of our efforts in building Next BIG Idea Contest and empoWer as niche, annual initiatives to support the ecosystem. We are proud to be identified as the enabling bridge between the two countries, to build a culture of entrepreneurs, and a network of startups.” Our endeavor is to be able to identify hi-tech, hi-potential startups and provide them with 360 degrees support to help them grow their businesses, he adds.

Zone Startups India has been supporting women entrepreneurs over the last two years through its initiative empoWer. Started in 2016, empoWer is India’s first tech accelerator for women entrepreneurs and have accelerated 35 women led tech startups so far. It has a strong network of around 550 women entrepreneurs across India.

Zone Startups India also recently completed 5-years of its annual Next Big India Contest; wherein it identifies 5 hi tech Indian startups through a competitive application process, and provides them with a market access trip to Canada. In the past 5 years, 27 companies have benefited from this initiative, and some notable names include CitrusPay, Konotor, Shield Square, Maya App, AdSparx, Vidooly etc.

This month, US Embassy had too launched the Nexus Startup Hub at the American Center in Delhi, with emphasis on women entrepreneurship.

Coming back to Canada-India relationship within both's startup ecosystem, in March 2017 India's PayTM had set up its innovation lab in Toronto, Canada.

Moreover, a lot of Indian Startups are now choosing Canada over the US due to later's visa uncertainty trouble, cracking the US immigration system nowadays has also become a very difficult task, a feat which only a lucky few are able to achieve. Canada has emerged as a popular immigration choice amongst Indian entrepreneurs after the US due to the clarity the country offers under its Canadian Startup Visa or SUV programme.

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