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2022 federal budget digest

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2022 federal budget digest

How the 2022 federal budget will impact the startup and innovation economy.


Last week, the federal government unveiled their long-awaited budget for 2022, which outlines a number of commitments for the Canadian tech and innovation economy.

The first budget since the Liberal’s re-election last fall, the 2022 budget focuses on growing the Canadian economy while aiming to make everyday life more affordable. Working to reduce its projected deficit, a majority of the government’s new commitments are program-focused, rather than large cash injections. 

We thought we would help out our community by breaking down the budget to highlight what should be on your radar, and how it will impact the startup and innovation economy.

The full federal budget can be found here.

AN OVERVIEW: BIG TICKET COMMITMENTS

  • Canadian Innovation and Investment Agency: $1 billion over five years towards the creation of a new agency designed to invest in innovation, research, and development. 
  • Canada Growth Fund: A $15 billion growth fund to encourage private sector investment to meet net-zero climate goals and strengthen supply chains.
  • Intellectual property: $96.6 million over five years to build a world-class intellectual property regime, by building on previous investments.
  • Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED): A review of SR&ED to eliminate paperwork needed for the program for startups. 
  • Accelerator to increase housing supply: Accelerator fund to encourage municipal governments to zone for more housing over the next five years. 
  • Dental-care and pharmacare: Plans to cover the cost of dental care for lower income Canadians and plans to create a national pharmacare program. 

INNOVATION INVESTMENTS

A new Canada Growth Fund to encourage private sector investment to meet net-zero climate goals and strengthen supply chains.

  • $15 billion in public capital over five years designed to incentivize private-sector investment in emissions reduction, economic diversification and supply-chain projects. The new program will  run at arm’s length from the government. It will make investments in businesses in firms for equity stakes, loan them money or issue financing guarantees. 

A new Canadian Innovation and Investment Agency to invest in innovation, research, and development.

  • The new agency, modelled after programs in Finland and Israel, will operate independently and will be funded with $1-billion in new spending over five years. Moreover, the government will consult further with Canadian and global experts in finalizing the design and mandate of the new agency. Furthers details will be announced in the 2022 fall economic and fiscal update.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

The government has committed more investment into Canada’s national IP initiatives, including:  

  • A new national lab-to-market platform to help graduate students and researchers take their work to market;
  • Investment for the CanExport program to help Canadian businesses secure their intellectual property in foreign markets;
  • A new survey to assess the government’s previous investments in science and research, and how knowledge created at post-secondary institutions generates commercial outcomes;
  • Expanding ExploreIP, Canada’s intellectual property marketplace, so that more public sector intellectual property is put to use helping Canadian businesses; and,
  • Expanding the Intellectual Property Legal Clinics Program, which will make it easier to access basic intellectual property services.

SR&ED REVIEW FOR STARTUPS

A review of the scientific research and experimental development (SR&ED) tax incentive, assessing whether it’s effective in encouraging R&D that benefits Canada will be done. Additionally, the government is considering instituting a patent-box regime to ensure ideas generated domestically turn into IP that stays here.

  • Startups have long complained about the amount of paperwork involved with accessing SR&ED, and the assessment could translate to startups receiving higher payouts from SR&ED, or at least less paperwork to complete. 

SUPERCLUSTERS REBRAND

The federal government is extending Canada’s Superclusters and is rebranding it to be called Canada’s Global Innovation Clusters. The budget proposes an additional $750 million into the program over six years. 

  • The Superclusters was originally created to focus on projects leveraging plant proteins, advanced manufacturing, AI and oceans. With the rebrand, the government hopes to see the Global Innovation Clusters play a role in greater projects, such as climate change.

TAX RATE EXTENSIONS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES

Taxable capital for small businesses is increasing from $15 million to $50 million. 

  • Currently, the government taxes small businesses at a reduced rate of 9% on the first $500,000 of taxable income. However, small businesses lose the reduced rate once they hit $15 million. The new budget plans to increase the taxable income limit to $50 million. 

SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES IN HEALTH TECH 

$30 million was committed to expand the CAN Health Network, which is a national partnership comprised of leading Canadian health organizations that work to introduce new solutions into the health care system. 

  • The government hopes to expand the program nationally to Quebec, the territories, and Indigenous communities.
Are you a founder trying to navigate the startup ecosystem? Learn more about programming the DMZ offers here.

CanHack’s impact: Inspiring Canada’s next generation of cybersecurity experts

6,156 students, 400+ highschools, $31,000 in cash prizes and counting.


Cybersecurity competition for high school students
In 2018, we teamed up with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) to foster the next generation of cybersecurity experts by launching CanHack. A competition for high school students, we’ve created meaningful learning opportunities for students across Canada looking to sink their teeth into cybersecurity. 

Throughout the cybersecurity challenge, students get the chance to tackle real cybersecurity challenges, learn critical computer security skills, work with experts in the field, explore an in-demand field and win cash prizes. 

As we all know, cybersecurity matters more now than ever before. We leaned on technology to keep us going through the pandemic – both personally and for business – and have become increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks as a result.

Ensuring a cybersafe future is crucial, and it starts with investing in a future workforce that understands the fundamentals of cybersecurity and privacy.

Young Black students coding - cybersecurity competition for high school students

Together, the DMZ and RBC have ignited an interest in cybersecurity for high school students across Canada at a critical stage in their education. We’re committed to helping students dive deeper into the world of cybersecurity to empower the future of the cybersecurity workforce. 

To mark our fourth CanHack competition, we decided to take a walk down memory lane to highlight CanHack’s achievements to date.

CanHack’s impact over the years 

Since its launch 5 years ago, CanHack has already:Supported 6,156 high school students that have made up 1,567 teams from 400+ highschools and community organizations. Administered 24 workshops with inspiring cybersecurity leaders for students to get hands-on training and support. Supported 1,016 women-identifying participants, empowering them to lead the way in tech. Given out over $31,000 in prize money to Canadian students and schools
Thanks to RBC’s committed support, CanHack plans to reach even more students this year, helping them to dive deeper into the world of cybersecurity. Registrations for CanHack 2022 have officially launched and the competition will run from March 15th to March 29th.

For high school students looking to gain knowledge in cybersecurity and computer science and explore the career possibilities in the growing sectors, click here for more information and register today!

Spotlighting BIP mentors: The impact mentorship has on your business growth trajectory

Hear from four DMZ BIP mentors on what it’s like to work with early-stage social impact businesses, and the top advice they offer founders


Mentors can be some of the most important people that accompany you on your business journey, and can play an influential role in the success of your business. 

Generally, the most effective business mentors possess similar characteristics: they provide constructive feedback, they’re approachable, and they’re willing to listen. 

But perhaps most importantly, good mentors have had real-life business experiences full of trials and errors, allowing them to provide new entrepreneurs with unique perspectives when growing a business.


More about the BIP Social Impact Stream

Last year, Unilever Canada and the DMZ launched the inaugural cohort for the Black Innovation Program’s (BIP) Social Impact Stream: a 6-month business incubator program designed to support Black entrepreneurs with a social mission. 

The program allows entrepreneurs to tap into lucrative industry connections and growth resources, which includes getting access to mentors from a diverse range of backgrounds and industries.

Whether it’s offering business advice to new founders or providing personal development guidance to entrepreneurs, our mentors have equipped socially-driven organizations with the counsel needed to generate company growth while accelerating their ability to create meaningful change and contribute to their core mission.

Today, the spotlight is on our program mentors. Hear how these leaders play a vital role in the success of founders in the BIP Social Impact Stream.


Shared learnings from mentors support progress

Mentor - Steve EhounouSteve Ehounou, Partner at MNP’s Assurance Services, specializes in advising other entrepreneurs on accounting, finances, tax and delivering business advisory services. His main goal is to help them optimize their financial activities to execute their business plans.

“I have met some very talented entrepreneurs through this program. I’m impressed to see the level of sophistication and proactiveness in the way they address existential needs and issues within our community,” he says.  

Steve says that mentorship is key in entrepreneurial undertakings. “The business environment is complex. The share of knowledge, failures and success experienced by mentors is an important ingredient in preparing the success of new entrepreneurs.” 

Steve says advice he gives founders is to “build a trusted team around you that meets your strengths and makes up for your weaknesses.” He also emphasizes the importance of acknowledging personal failures and using them as an opportunity to bounce back and grow stronger.

“The business environment is complex. The share of knowledge, failures and success experienced by mentors is an important ingredient in preparing the success of new entrepreneurs.” 

Mentors provide a completely unique perspective 

Mentor - Natoya AbiolaNatoya Abiola, Founder of Zenwork Wellness Solutions, advises founders on customer discovery, storytelling and go-to-market strategy. She has found in her personal experience that founders often overlook the importance of these areas, but firmly believes they are crucial to any startup.

“My experience as a mentor has been eye-opening and rewarding. I am inspired by the works of the founders who consider themselves ‘regular people’, yet are bravely tackling challenges like hunger, poverty, inequality, and responsible consumption within their communities.”

Natoya encourages early-stage entrepreneurs to pick up the phone and call potential customers to understand the challenges they face. “This is the best way to tailor your solution to deliver value,” she explains. 

Although startups may face rejections, Natoya adds it’s a great way to develop leads. “Founders must become intimate with the problem they are solving to render the best solution. The best way of understanding these pain points is to speak directly to the people affected.

“My experience as a mentor has been eye-opening and rewarding. I am inspired by the works of the founders who consider themselves ‘regular people’, yet are bravely tackling challenges like hunger, poverty, inequality, and responsible consumption within their communities.”

Leverage the experience and connections of your mentors

Mentor Eric InEric In, Director of Investments at Dragonfly Ventures, specializes in technology, renewable energy, tourism and hospitality, and food e-commerce. He advises founders from early-stage to late-stage on strategy, fundraising, risks and challenges related to growth.

“It’s a pleasure to connect with my mentee. We have exciting and passionate discussions about connections to potential partners and investors, comparable initiatives, and how we can impact food waste and food insecurity” Eric says.

Eric highlights the importance for Black founders to have access to a community of mentors to thrive. “I truly believe that the success of founders is amplified when building strong relationships with experienced people who can help test ideas, and provide advice and connections when needed.”

“This is even more true for Black founders who may not have been given the same connections and level of access to advisors and experienced mentors.”

Eric says that the best piece of advice a founder can equip themselves with is, “surround yourself with people who are knowledgeable in fields you cannot leverage, people who are well-connected, and people who align with your mission and values!”

 

“I truly believe that the success of founders is amplified when building strong relationships with experienced people who can help test ideas, and provide advice and connections when needed.”

Mentors can be your best asset

Mentor Baba AjayiBaba Ajayi, Founder of Andie, specializes in product launch, business plan development, and sales strategy.

“My experience as a mentor with the BIP Social Impact Stream has been fantastic,” Baba says. 

“Jesina Studios, the company I was advising, is working on something near and dear to my heart in terms of providing support to new immigrants and refugee women. Sam and Lexi, the founders of Jesina Studios, have a remarkable story and vision for the business.”

Baba explains the best piece of business advice he’s received is as follows: “The only thing that matters is making things happen at the beginning. You don’t want to get yourself bogged down in tasks that don’t deliver an actionable result. If it’s a product, launch it. If it’s an app, launch it. See what happens.”

When asked about the importance of providing Black founders with access to a mentorship community, Baba emphasizes that such an asset is absolutely crucial to any startup or new business. 

“It is especially crucial for Black founders. They are often short on resources, and the room for mistakes is very small. That’s the role mentors play.”

“The only thing that matters is making things happen at the beginning. You don’t want to get yourself bogged down in tasks that don’t deliver an actionable result. If it’s a product, launch it. If it’s an app, launch it. See what happens.”

Interested in learning more about BIP Mentors and the Social Impact Stream fuelled by Unilever Canada? Read more here.

How the DMZ is making it possible for founders from anywhere around the world to start and build a global business

5 continents, 40 countries, 1000 startups and growing…


While the DMZ’s roots may have originated in the heart of downtown Toronto, our presence today is felt
globally

We’ve transformed into an international powerhouse by revolutionizing the global startup ecosystem and empowering our startups to break into global markets and produce results worldwide.

So, how exactly have we created our international ecosystem of DMZ-powered hubs? 

We’re glad you asked. 

By championing global collaboration, we have created a vast network of satellite offices and international partnerships. 

Today, entrepreneurs from around the world have the ability to access DMZ programming, but with the networks that have a deep understanding of their local ecosystem, country and economy.  

When asked to raise the bar, the DMZ didn’t just think bigger — we thought global.  

DMZ programming is making it possible for any entrepreneur from anywhere around the world to start a business. We have had the privilege of supporting founders, and the trailblazers who support them from over 40 countries, including Egypt, the United States, Haiti, Brazil, Czech, Turkey, England, China and much more. 

We recently caught up with some of our founders from around the world to learn more about their local ecosystem and how the DMZ community is helping them reach global success. 

AMMAN, JORDAN

The DMZ supports programming for women entrepreneurs for Jordan’s Company Start-Up Program, which provides university and college students with hands-on experience and practical training in business and product development and management. 

Luma Al Adnani is the CEO and Co-Founder of Adam Wa Mishmish, an educational cartoon created for children to learn and love the Arabic language. A graduate of the DMZ’s ‘Launching Economic Achievement Project for Women in Jordan’ and the DMZ’s Bootcamp — Adam Wa Mishmish is currently a DMZ Incubator company, signalling its significant growth these past few years.

Luma Al Adnani. CEO and Co-Founder of Adam Wa Mishmish

From day one, Adam Wa Mishmish has been an international business. With arabic-speaking people all over the world, those living outside of the Middle East are Adam wa Mishmish’s target users.  

Luma explains that a majority of the startups in the Middle East strive to make it on the global stage, and being accepted into the DMZ Incubator program was a dream come true for the company. 

“Limiting oneself to one ecosystem, city, country or region is a disservice. Our team is thrilled to be a part of the Incubator program, as it will allow us to better understand our target markets. 

The DMZ team and mentors have opened us up to entirely new ideas. With their help, we’ve been able to organize ourselves, set goals and achieve them. We know we are better equipped to handle whatever the future holds in store for us, and achieve global success.”

“Limiting oneself to one ecosystem, city, country or region is a disservice. Our team is thrilled to be a part of the Incubator program, as it will allow us to better understand our target markets.”

HO CHI MINH CITY, VIETNAM

Zone Startups Vietnam operates under DMZ Ventures and is an international startup accelerator program empowering Vietnam’s tech leaders.

Anthony Ho is based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and is the Founder and CEO of EI Industrial, Vietnam’s first B2B e-commerce platform for construction. 

After living abroad and working for multinational tech companies, Anthony realized Vietnam had what it takes to be a competitive tech ecosystem and was determined to contribute to the country’s technological revolution. 

Anthony Ho, Founder and CEO of EI Industrial

Vietnam’s startup ecosystem has only recently begun to flourish. Anthony highlights that 5 years ago, there was no mention of startups in the business world — the ecosystem was nonexistent. 

“Today, it’s a different story. The startup ecosystem has developed quickly, with various organizations looking to boost the startup community. We’re really beginning to thrive, as more and more Vietnamese startups achieve success.” 

Anthony stresses the importance of harnessing a global mindset as an entrepreneur, and credits the DMZ community for helping him expand his network and connecting him with international and regional venture capitalists to help fuel his company. 

“I joined the DMZ community in July of 2020, after a business model restructuring. I can confidently say that without this community, I would not be where I am today with my business — and for that, I’m grateful.”

 

INNISFIL, ONTARIO

In partnership with the town of Innisfil, DMZ Innisfil is a collaborative program designed to help entrepreneurs succeed personally and professionally.

The Co-Founder and CEO of Opsware, Peter Barbosa has a proven track record as a serial entrepreneur and specializes in regulatory technology and data privacy. His company, Opsware, is a no-code data privacy technology platform built for modern enterprises. 

Peter Barbosa, Co-Founder and CEO of Opsware

Peter highlights that data privacy is a global problem companies are trying to tackle. Although laws typically emerge at a state or federal level, a new wave of emerging privacy laws will apply to companies around the world.

“By 2023, 65% of the world’s population will be covered by modern data privacy laws. That’s up from 25% today.”

Peter attributes Opsware’s global presence to DMZ Innisfil’s support. “Working with Jelmer Stegink and the broader DMZ team really helped us improve our pitch, and gave us a network of like-minded entrepreneurs who are also driven to have a global reach.”

“Working with Jelmer Stegink and the broader DMZ team really helped us improve our pitch, and gave us a network of like-minded entrepreneurs who are also driven to have a global reach.”

 

MUMBAI, INDIA

Operating under DMZ Ventures, Zone Startups India is a partnership with the Bombay Stock Exchange in Mumbai focused on startups operating in a variety of industries. 

Sonam Srivastava is the Founder of Wright Research,  an investment advisory and research firm that uses quantitative research and machine learning to create stable investment options that generate consistent profit in all markets. Featured in the Association of International Wealth Management of India’s top 100 women in finance, Sonam is passionate about quantitative investment management. 

Sonam Srivastava, Founder of Wright Research

The investment space in India is being revolutionized through AI and quantitative research efforts. Located in the financial capital of India, Wright plans to leverage the recent growth in capital markets to go above and beyond for their consumers.

Sonam strives to create products with global audiences in mind at Wright, and plans to collaborate with global investors in AI. 

“I think the opportunities for quantitative research are endless, and there is a global market to tap into.”

With the support of Zone Startup India, Wright has been able to expand their business by acquiring new licences. “We’ve gained a lot from the mentorship and community at Zone Startups India – their guidance has helped make our lives easy.”

 

SOUTH KOREA

The DMZ supports the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), helping the next generation of South Korean entrepreneurs. Designed by the DMZ, their 12-week program supports entrepreneurs’ soft-landing in the Canadian market.

Hobin Kim is the Founder and CEO of Ationlab, a lifestyle design company committed to social impact missions and supporting sustainable projects. 

Hobin Kim, Founder and CEO of Ationlab
Hobin Kim, Founder and CEO of Ationlab

Ationlab was first introduced to the DMZ through KOTRA’s AI Open Innovation program in 2020. Hobin explains that the program provided him with an inside look at what entering the Canadian market would entail. 

“Risk management is a must for all businesses, and entering new markets through trusted institutions, like the DMZ and KOTRA, reduces potential risk drastically and allows founders to find suitable markets.”  

Hobin highlights that the DMZ provides a strong community of mentors, helping international startups break into the North American market. 

“The DMZ allowed us to tap into a community of great business professionals, such as their Entrepreneurs-in-Residence and DMZ staff! Startups seeking global success are equipped with essential business programming in areas such as business strategy, marketing, and pitching — everything a startup needs to enter the North American market.”

“The DMZ allowed us to tap into a community of great business professionals, such as their Entrepreneurs-in-Residence and DMZ staff! Startups seeking global success are equipped with essential business programming in areas such as business strategy, marketing, and pitching — everything a startup needs to enter the North American market.”

TOKYO, JAPAN

Powered by the DMZ, Landing Pad Tokyo is accelerating the capabilities of Japan’s top innovators and helping companies lead digital transformation in the manufacturing sector.

Shin Takeuchi is based in Tokyo, Japan and is the CEO of Nissin Inc, a manufacturing company that makes and sells production equipment using plasma and power supply technology. 

Shin Takeuchi, CEO of Nissin Inc
Shin Takeuchi, CEO of Nissin Inc

As new business models begin to emerge in Japan as a result of COVID-19 and information technology becomes a necessity, the sale of semiconductors and telecommunications devices have skyrocketed in the country. 

While Takeuchi explains this has been great for business, he also highlights how supply chain problems are beginning to arise.  “Our next generation of entrepreneurs will need to step up and put forth innovative solutions to keep up with the demand of device manufacturing.”  

With digital transformation accelerating at lightning speed, gone are the days where businesses can focus on a single market. 

Takeuchi emphasizes that operating with a global mindset is imperative, especially as we begin to look past the pandemic. 

“Borders are beginning to fade, and with widespread access to the internet, businesses need to think bigger. Being a part of the DMZ community has opened up several doors for us, as we’ve been able to connect with Canadian startups to share lessons learned and gain valuable market insights.”

“Borders are beginning to fade, and with widespread access to the internet, businesses need to think bigger. Being a part of the DMZ community has opened up several doors for us, as we’ve been able to connect with Canadian startups to share lessons learned and gain valuable market insights.”

 

Want to know if there’s a DMZ-powered hub in your region?
Learn more about the DMZ’s global footprint at
dmz.to/Global

2021 federal and provincial budget digests

How the 2021 federal and provincial budgets impact small businesses and startups

This past month, the federal and provincial government unveiled their long-awaited budgets. With both plans focusing on keeping citizens safe and healthy and kick starting our economic recovery, we now have a glimpse into what the road to post-pandemic recovery will look like.

The DMZ has reviewed both the Ontario provincial and federal government budgets and identified key commitments that will affect the small business and startup ecosystem.

Here’s what you need to know about both budgets.

Federal Budget Highlights

The full federal budget can be found here.

High Level Overview – Big Measures

  • $101.4 billion in new spending over three years to fuel the recovery and kick-start the transition to a green economy.
  • $30 billion over five years and $8.3 billion per year after that to create and sustain a national child care program. Goal is a $10/day child care service by 2025-2026.
  • $18 billion to build safer, healthier Indigenous communities.
  • $17.6 billion for green recovery — to conserve 25% of lands and oceans by 2025 and to put Canada on course to exceed climate change targets by cutting emissions to 36% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Small Business Support

  • Emergency Subsidy Supports: The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy will be extended until September 25th 2021, with the possibility of extension till November.
  • Canada Recovery Hiring Program:  A $595 million investment to help businesses pivot to recovery with incentives to hire back, grow hours, or increase wages.
  • Sectoral Workforce Solutions Program: A commitment to provide $960 million over three years for a new training program. Funding will help design and deliver training that is relevant to the needs of small and medium-sized businesses, and to their employees. 
  • Digital Adoption Program: A commitment to a $4 billion investment into a Digital Adoption Program to help Canadian small businesses become more competitive, go digital, and take advantage of e-commerce.
    • This investment will help 160,000 businesses become more competitive, and will create jobs for 28,000 young people.
  • Lowering Credit Card Fees: A commitment to engaging with stakeholders to lower the average overall cost of interchange fees for small businesses.
  • Creating the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development Program: The government is investing over $100 million to ensure Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem is supporting inclusive growth
    • Enhancing the Canada Small Business Financing Program: The government proposes to improve the Canada Small Business Financing Program through amendments to the Canada Small Business Financing Act. Amendments are projected to increase annual financing by $560 million, supporting approximately 2,900 additional small businesses. 
    • The government is investing $2.6 billion over four years to the Business Development Bank of Canada to help small- and medium-sized businesses finance technology adoption. 
  • Support for Women Entrepreneurs: The government will provide up to $146.9 million over four years, to strengthen the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.
    • Women entrepreneurs would have greater access to financing, mentorship, and training. Funding would also further support the Women Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Fund and the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub.
  • Supporting Black Entrepreneurs: The government is investing an additional $51.7M in the Black Entrepreneurship Program, on top of the previously invested $221 million, to further strengthen the Black entrepreneurship ecosystem.
  • Supporting Aboriginal Entrepreneurs: The government is committing $42 million over three years to expand the Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program.
  • Strategic Innovation Fund: Budget 2021 proposes to provide the Strategic Innovation Fund with an incremental $7.2 billion over seven years on a cash basis, starting in 2021-22, and $511.4 million ongoing. 
  • Student Work Placement Program: The government is committing $239.8 million in the Student Work Placement Program in 2021-22 to support work-integrated learning opportunities for post-secondary students. 
  • Skills for Success Program: The government is investing $298 million over three years in a new skills program that would help Canadians at all skills levels improve their skills. The program will fund organizations to design and deliver training to enhance foundational skills, such as literacy and numeracy, as well as transferable and soft skills.

Venture Capital

  • The government has committed to increase venture capital funding and support the continued growth of Canada’s innovative companies, the budget proposes to make available up to $450 million on a cash basis over five years, starting in 2021-22, for a renewed Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative that would increase venture capital available to entrepreneurs.
    • $50 million of this amount would be dedicated to support venture capital investments in life science technologies.
    • $50 million of this amount would support a new Inclusive Growth Stream to increase access to venture capital for underrepresented groups, such as women and racialized communities.

Child Care

  • Establishing a Canada-wide early learning and child care system: The government is investing $30 billion over the next 5 years to establish a $10 per day Canada-wide early learning and child care system which will help all families access affordable, high-quality, and flexible child care no matter where they live. This is the largest initiative to increase the size of Canada’s Labour force since NAFTA.

Minimum Wage

  • Establishing a $15 minimum wage: The Government of Canada announced its intention to introduce legislation that will establish a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour, rising with inflation, with provisions to ensure that where provincial or territorial minimum wages are higher, that wage will prevail. 

Green Recovery 

  • The government has committed $17.6 billion into Canada’s green recovery, which it says will help the country exceed its Paris Agreement targets and reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

Supporting Asian Canadians

  • With the increase in reports of harassment and attacks against Asian Canadians, the government will invest $11 million over two years, to expand the impact of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation.

Other notable commitments

  • The Universal Broadband Fund, designed to bring better internet service to remote and rural communities, is getting an extra $1 billion over six years.
  • The CanCode program, which helps young people learn digital skills including coding, is getting $80 million to help it reach three million more students, with an emphasis on underrepresented groups. 
  • The federal government will appoint its first data commissioner, who will issue guidance to help protect people’s personal data and to encourage innovation in the digital marketplace.
  • In efforts to streamline the Express Entry program for highly skilled immigrants, the immigration minister will have the authority to help select Express Entry candidates to become permanent residents. 
    • There’s also a promised overhaul of the digital platform that supports Canada’s immigration system. The government will spend $428.9 million in new funding over five years, so that application processing will improve starting in 2023.

__________________

Provincial Budget Highlights

The full provincial budget can be found here.

High Level Overview – Big Measures

  • $16.3 B to Protect Health of Ontarians
  • $23.3 B to Protect the Economy
  • $39.6 B Total Direct Support 
  • $11.3 B Cash Flow for People and Business 
  • $51 B Total Supports over next four years

Small Business Support

  • Ontario is committing to an additional round of support for small businesses through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant. 
    • Small businesses who have been determined as eligible recipients of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will automatically be entitled to a second payment equal to the amount of their first payment, for minimum total support of $20,000 up to a maximum of $40,000 — no new application necessary. Confirmed eligible businesses can expect to receive their second payment later in the spring.
    • Eligible business owners who have not yet applied for the grant have until March 31, 2021, to submit an application.
  • For main street businesses: Ontario is investing an additional $10 million in the Digital Main Street program in 2021–22 to help more small businesses achieve digital transformation and serve customers effectively online. The program will continue to provide digital transformation grants, an online learning platform, training programs, and digital service squads offering technical support to small business owners.

Investment Support

  • Ontario is committing $400 million over four years to create the Invest Ontario Fund, which will support Invest Ontario and encourage investments in the key sectors of advanced manufacturing, technology and life sciences. The province is pitching it as a “‘one-stop’ shop for business and investors. This is the first funding commitment for the new agency, which the government launched in its last budget. 

Reskilling and Training Tax Credit

  • The government is proposing a new tax credit that would give recipients up to $2,000 to cover 50% of the cost of re-training, for a total of $260 million for 230,000 workers. This refundable tax credit is eligible for those 26 to 65 years in age to seek financial support to return to the Ontario job market. This credit is eligible to be used for tuition to aid in training for new skills at public and private colleges across the province.

Digital Government

  • The highly anticipated digital ID is expected to be released by the end of year. This new form of secure, electronic government-issued ID will conveniently be used to access government services while protecting data privacy. This technology will allow users to be in full control of personal information and who it is shared with. 
  • The government has also set aside $500 million for the Ontario Acceleration Fund which includes:
    • $2.2 million to develop the Single Window for Business, a transformational digital solution designed to use emerging technology, data, and responsive design to improve the business experience with government services. A designated single window will provide a solution that makes it easier for businesses to access the information and services they need to get up‐and running, create jobs and grow.

Increased Broadband Capacity

  • The budget pledges $2.8 billion in new funding for broadband infrastructure, as the province promises to expand reliable services to every region of the province by 2025. The commitment brings its total broadband funding to almost $4 billion for the six years starting in 2019–20. 

Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network

  • Ontario is investing $56.4 million over the next four years to create the new Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network. This will help accelerate the development of the next generation electric, connected and autonomous vehicle and mobility technologies that contribute to a lower environmental and carbon footprint.

Research and Development

  • The province plans to contribute more than $500 million to research and development with the potential for health-related and other breakthroughs at universities, colleges and academic hospitals. It plans to spend the money alongside federal and private-sector partners, citing the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, the Ontario Brain Institute, Ontario Genomics, Compute Ontario and the Fields and Perimeter institutes.

Are you a founder trying to navigate the startup ecosystem? Learn more about programming the DMZ offers here.

Breaking $1 billion in funding: DMZ startups reach a major milestone

DMZ’s startups and alumni have raised over $1 billion CAD in funding


Note: All figures are reported in Canadian dollars.


DMZ companies have officially surpassed $1 billion in total funding raised. While the DMZ has been supporting startups for the last 11 years, the majority of this funding has been raised by startups in the last five years (over $940 million since 2016).

This milestone is a victory for the entire Canadian startup ecosystem. It’s a testament to the level of confidence that government, investors, and startup support organizations have in Canadian tech founders to lead world-class businesses. It’s true that startups who have proven market traction, strong competitive advantages and IP protection will attract investors. But oftentimes, qualitative traits that a startup has may be even more valuable in the eyes of an investor – like having a solid diverse management team that fosters great company culture or a founder that has tremendous passion and drive to make a difference.

Let’s dive into the numbers to explore tech investment trends over the last decade, from the largest funding rounds to the industries receiving the most investment dollars. 
This major milestone has been achieved through 194 DMZ-supported startups that have received a total of 424 investments from 2011 to 2021. 

The raise that pushed the DMZ to break past the $1 billion mark was Toronto-based Snapcommerce’s recent $107 million raise. Snapcommerce was incubated at the DMZ in 2016. This announcement also marked the largest single funding round on record for DMZ alumni! 

After a year like 2020, with so much uncertainty to navigate, DMZ startups preserved and were able to continue to secure funding. Over $185 million was raised in 2020 alone.


Top 10 startups and top 10 funding rounds

The top ten startups that have received the most investment dollars have collectively raised over $700 million. The top five – Borrowell, Snapcommerce, Sensibill, Ada Support and Flybits – accounting for an impressive $560 million of that. That’s over 50% of the total funding raised by all DMZ startups.


Funding breakdown by stage

These investments come from a variety of funding sources, including equity crowdfunding, government grants, pitch competition awards, and angel and venture capital investments from the pre-seed stage to Series C and beyond.

The sheer number of stakeholders that have played a role in reaching this $1 billion achievement illustrates the importance of industry-wide collaboration and cooperation. 

The way in which this ecosystem plays as a whole determines its success.


Funding breakdown by industry

When breaking down the industries of startups that raised the most money, startups in Financial Tech take the lead. A total of 11 startups representing this industry raised a combined $273 million – that’s over a quarter of the total funding raised by DMZ companies across all industries. The industries that followed were Retail Tech ($213M), Enterprise Tech ($131M), Health Tech ($100M),  Arts & Entertainment ($59M), Marketing ($27M), Education Tech ($32M), Communications ($29M), Consumer Tech ($26M)and Insurance Tech ($25M).


Huge gaps in funding support still exist

The Canadian tech ecosystem has become increasingly competitive – this milestone speaks to the growth and potential of our startups. Yet, startup founders still say that accessing capital is their biggest challenge and roadblock to success.

Seed deals have slowed down significantly in recent years and early-stage financing has become progressively more difficult to secure.

That’s why the DMZ is doubling down on its efforts to help startups in the early stages receive more investment strategy support, access to investors and dedicated fundraising workshops, and mentorship from professionals who specialize in fundraising – especially through our Black Innovation and Women Founders streams to support women-owned and Black-owned startups that have historically been underfunded.

Want to be a part of the next billion? Email us at dmz@ryerson.ca. Learn more about the DMZ’s programming here.

How digital badging gives young professionals a competitive edge

Jumpstarting students’ career paths in cybersecurity with CanHack digital badges


It’s not too late for high school students to register for CanHack 2021 and compete for up to $16,250 in prizes! Learn more
here.


As the years pas
s in a student’s journey through education, they will tackle many great accomplishments: from academic achievements, participation in extracurriculars, competitions, volunteer and community work, involvement in student associations, and so on. Previously, certificates, diplomas, badges and trophies have typically represented tokens of these achievements.

Now, with the global workforce becoming increasingly digital, students need a new way to display these accomplishments. Furthermore, COVID-19 has forced education institutions to rapidly shift to online learning, meaning physical certificates often can’t be provided to add to student portfolios. How do these accomplishments get recognized? 

There’s a better way for students to present these achievements: digital badging.


What is digital badging?

Simply put, digital badging, also known as digital credentials and micro credentials, is a validated online certification of a specific accomplishment or skill. Digital badging provides learners with a bite-sized approach to education, and focuses on the development of a specific skill. When a learner completes a new course or gains a new skill, they receive a digital badge as recognition for their achievement. Unlike physical certificates, badges are designed to be optimized for sharing on social media and professional networks like LinkedIn to help individuals find a job or earn an internal promotion. When an employer or recruiter sees that a potential job candidate has digital badges listed on their LinkedIn profile, it’s a quick and secure way for the employer to understand the certifications and skills the candidate has.

Digital badge benefits: The learner

It is clear that lifelong learning has become an imperative for young professionals to break into today’s rapidly changing workforce. Up-skilling and re-skilling allows professionals (of all ages) to remain relevant and up to speed on the latest trends.  Digital badges helps learners:

  • Become motivated to grow their careers by learning new skills outside of what they have been taught in school.
  • Finesse their own personal brand image and improve their competitiveness in the job market by highlighting badges on social media platforms like LinkedIn.
  • Showcase their soft skills and bridge any skills gap that may exist between academic achievements and job requirements.
  • Demonstrate to future employers their eagerness and ability to acquire new skills.


CanHack introduces digital badging

At the DMZ, we believe it is crucial to empower Canada’s next generation of innovators and provide them with the necessary skill sets to thrive. As the skills gap in cybersecurity widens, we hope to promote cyber literacy while getting students excited about a potential career in the space. We will provide every participant a digital badge, marking their official participation in the third annual CanHack challenge (bragging rights included)! CanHack participants will be able to send a signal of great success to post secondary institutions and future employers, as CanHack’s digital badge will give them a competitive edge. All CanHack badges are endorsed by cybersecurity leaders, Carnegie Mellon University Cylab Security and Privacy Institute and RBC, helping students to stand out!

About CanHack

The DMZ at Ryerson University, in partnership with the Royal Bank of Canada, have come together to launch CanHack – a cybersecurity student competition to promote cyber literacy and to also address digital skills gaps in the labour market. Participants will learn critical computer security skills, work with experts in the field and have an opportunity to win up to $16,250 in cash prizes for both themselves and the school they attend! CanHack leverages an online open-source computer security platform established by the Carnegie Mellon University Cylab Security & Privacy Institute called PicoCTF. This game-based learning experience creates an interactive and engaging experience where students are tasked with addressing cybersecurity challenges faced by Canadian financial institutions.
Want to learn more about the CanHack challenge and how you can participate? Check out our CanHack page for more information! 

Tackling the cybersecurity gender gap: Empowering women to lead the way in tech

Hear from RBC leader, May Sarout, on how we can close the gender gap and encourage more young women to get involved in cybersecurity

 

Don’t miss Women in Cyber, an exclusive panel event hosted by CanHack & Hackergal, coming up on November 18. Keep reading for more details.

The gender gap we see in tech isn’t exactly a novel issue. In the cybersecurity field, women only represent about 20 percent of the workforce. The gap has indeed narrowed in recent years, however, the industry still has quite a long way to go to achieve equitable gender representation.

May Sarout headshotThankfully, organizations like RBC have several initiatives in place to ensure we are closing this gap – from educating young women and launching partnerships like CanHack with the DMZ, to looking inwards at the organization’s hiring practices to ensure there are diverse individuals represented in tech and leadership roles.

As the Senior Director of Cyber Security Strategic Partnerships and Innovation, May Sarout is working hard to increase the representation of women in Canada’s ever-evolving tech sector. May’s passion for advancing gender diversity and empowering young women in tech is clear; her involvement in initiatives like CanHack, participation in tech events and speaking panels and efforts to raise awareness for more women-identified leaders in cybersecurity are collectively making an impact to tackle the diversity gap.

RBC CanHack DMZ event

May shared her insights on the barriers for women in cybersecurity and how young women can get a head start on a successful career in the field. We also asked May what advice she would give tech companies on building diverse teams, and how they can be more intentional about implementing inclusive hiring practices.

Here’s what May had to say.

 

Why does the cybersecurity gender gap exist?

 

In my opinion, there are three major reasons why there are fewer women in cybersecurity than there should be. First, there is a huge misunderstanding and misconception about the cybersecurity field, and this leads women to shy away from it. Second, there is a lack of understanding of the variety of roles within cyber, which I will speak to a little later. Lastly, when reviewing job roles, women are generally less likely than men to apply for jobs where they don’t meet every single qualification on a job description – making the number of women in an applicant pool even smaller.

 

How do we address this gap? What can we do to fix it?

 

I have a few suggestions, and RBC is already working to address all of them. The first thing we can do to address this issue is create programs that are specifically catered to women.

Another thing we can do to address the gap is to invite more successful women role models to share their journeys on speaking panels and events. This allows younger women in the audience to envision themselves in a similar leadership position and reassures them that they too can be successful in the field. Further to that, it’s important the outreach to young women is there so that they are aware of these events and opportunities in the first place.

We need to be sharing more information about the variety of roles in Cybersecurity. The more that women know about available roles, the more likely they may see themselves in a role.

For the young women-identifying innovators who might be interested in exploring a career in cybersecurity but aren’t sure what their options are, what could a career path in this field look like?

 

There are so many different paths to take!

On one hand, some career paths may take a more technical route. But on the other hand, some Cyber roles require no technical skills. Effective cybersecurity is about more than the technology alone. We need people in cybersecurity that have a thorough understanding of human behaviour and can take a psychological approach to reducing cyber risk.

There are also roles that are involved in the marketing, education and awareness around cyber, and these roles may require little to no technical skills. These roles might require some domain knowledge, but it’s more important the individual has a marketing or communications background than cyber.

Finally, many roles fall in the middle of this spectrum, including project management, business analysis, quality assurance – every cyber organization needs these roles, and these skills can be transferable from other fields in tech. As long as you have the passion for cybersecurity space, you will likely find a role that’s right for you!

 

How can young women get involved in cybersecurity early?

 

There are plenty of initiatives that allow youth to have fun as they learn about cybersecurity. CanHack, the initiative we host in partnership with the DMZ, is a great way for young women to get involved early. It’s a fun challenge that helps participants think critically and use problem-solving skills. Hackergal is another great organization that has opportunities designed especially for girls.

There are also lots of business associations catered to women in cyber that you can get involved with, such as Women in Cybersecurity. Leading Cyber Ladies is another one to check out. Take a look at LinkedIn, there are always events going on related to the industry.

The good thing about the days we’re living in now with virtual events is that you’re not restricted to attending events just in your local area. The world has become much more global, and in a way, it’s opened up more doors!

What advice do you have for tech companies that want to adopt more inclusive practices?

 

Study after study shows that diverse and inclusive teams are more successful. When it comes to diversity, we shouldn’t focus solely on gender diversity. We should look at all diverse talent, whether it’s gender-based, culture-based, age-based, or experience-based.

The advice I would give to companies would be to set certain goals related to diversity and inclusion. Be mindful of what you want to achieve. Declare diversity and inclusion in your performance targets and make sure you track it and measure it on a consistent basis. Diversity and inclusion have to be prioritized.

It’s important to have diversity and inclusion measures within your hiring process. For example, at RBC we ensure that there is diversity in all teams and across all levels of the organization. Hiring managers must report on how many diverse candidates they interview and whether their chosen candidate was a diverse hire.

Beyond setting targets, it’s also important to make sure you have a culture that fosters diverse hiring. If you want to hire more Black, Indigenous, or People of Colour, you must include members of those communities in the recruitment process. This will allow job candidates to see that they have a place in your organization and feel more passionate and confident about the selection process.

How does your team at RBC take measures to address the gender gap issue that exists in the cybersecurity field?

The purpose of the Cybersecurity Strategic Partnerships and Innovation team is to be a major catalyst in growing and lifting cybersecurity talent, thought leadership and innovation in Canada. We do this by growing the cybersecurity talent pipeline, training programs, advocating for diversity and increasing diversity of available talent, increasing interest of future generations in cyber.

First, we’re addressing the cybersecurity gender gap through RBC’s internal recruitment processes. This is prioritized for all areas of the organization at the Executive Committee level. Our Senior Vice President of Cyber Security is a woman – Laurie Pezzente (who has won Canada’s Most Powerful Women – Top 100 award, among several other awards). Additionally, two of the four Executives reporting to our SVP are also women.

RBC is constantly being recognized for its diversity and inclusion initiatives. It’s not just cybersecurity, either – RBC is focused on promoting diversity in all fields.

We partner with organizations like Ryerson and the DMZ on initiatives such as the Cybersecure Policy exchange and CanHack. We’ve also built the RBC Women in Cyber stream within the Rogers Cybersecure Catalyst.

This year, for CanHack 2021, we set specific targets to increase women’s representation.

Not only will CanHack be offered to Canadian students coast-to-coast, but CanHack 2021 will also be special in that DMZ will run women-only workshops on a number of cybersecurity topics to support women in STEM, and work with organizations like Hackergal to inspire and recruit more female participants to the challenge.

Calling all Canadian high school teachers and community supervisors! Would you like to learn more about CanHack and other cybersecurity opportunities for women?  

Register here to learn more about the 2021 CanHack Challenge.

Join us for the Women in Cyber panel, hosted by CanHack & Hackergal on Wednesday, November 18 at 5:00pm. Register here.

 The panellists will share their experiences as women who are making an impact in the field and address how to collectively create better pathways for women in cybersecurity in Canada.  

Questions related to CanHack? Reach out to Naveed Tagari at naveedtagari@ryerson.ca.

The difference a decade can make: DMZ turns 10

 

10 years, 477 startups, 4,142 jobs created, $916.4M raised and counting…

2020 marks a huge milestone for the DMZ. It’s a big anniversary – we’ve officially been around for a decade. We’ve transformed from a small student coworking space to a world-leading incubator-accelerator, and to celebrate this birthday we’re taking a trip down memory lane to reflect on the accomplishments, challenges and victories the DMZ has seen since our inception. Most importantly, we want to highlight the people who have pivotal roles in shaping what the DMZ is today. 


We’re giving away a Nespresso machine + more to celebrate 10 years!

Check out the DMZ Instagram to participate in our trivia and giveaways over the next two weeks. Starting on Wednesday, September 16, we’ll be giving away a brand new Nespresso Vertuo Coffee & Espresso Machine, exclusive DMZ swag and a copy of the #1 Bestselling book Good to Great by Jim Collins. Since you’re already reading this blog, you’ve got a head start – you may just find some trivia questions here! Follow us now to ensure you don’t miss a post.


DMZ’s biggest milestones over the last decade

year 2010 in block letters
The DMZ is born. 

A student founder from Soapbox pitched an idea to Sheldon Levy, Ryerson University’s then-President. The student needed support in developing an idea for a new startup company and couldn’t find the help they needed on campus. Sheldon Levy saw the potential to create an innovative space for students to work on new business ideas, and together with co-founders Valerie Fox and Dr. Hossein Rahnama, the Digital Media Zone was born! 

year 2011 in block letters
Open for business. 

Within one year of opening, the DMZ had already garnered significant interest within the entrepreneur ecosystem. In 2011, the DMZ’s first Executive Director and Co-Founder, Valerie Fox, made a decision that would transform the Digital Media Zone: opening our doors to founders outside of the Ryerson community. As the number of founders joining the DMZ grew, the physical space grew with it and expanded two extra floors to accommodate incoming companies.

DMZ Co-Founder, Dr. Hossein Rahnama was the first to commercialize his research at the DMZ and founded Flybits – a startup that went on to become one of Canada’s top AI companies.

year 2012 in block letters
Royalty arrives at the DMZ. 

It’s true! In 2012, His Royal Highness Prince Charles paid a visit to the DMZ while on a Canadian tour. The Prince made his way through the DMZ’s offices at Yonge-Dundas square and student entrepreneurs were given the opportunity to showcase their companies, drawing the royal member’s attention to the talent and innovation being incubated at the DMZ.

In 2012, Carrie-Ann Bissonnette, Manager, helped build processes and rigger that shaped the foundation of the DMZ in its early days.

year 2013 in block letters
A new investment arm & visit from Justin Trudeau. 

As early-stage DMZ startups began transforming into high-growth companies, Ryerson University launched Ryerson Futures Inc. (RFI), a for-profit investment arm and startup accelerator that could provide companies with seed financing to help them grow to significant value. This year, we announced RFI’s rebrand to DMZ Ventures.

In 2013, the DMZ received yet another high-profile visit. This time, it was Justin Trudeau that stopped by to get a tour of the newly-expanded, five-floor DMZ incubator during his federal Liberal leader election campaign that year.

year 2014 in block letters
Launch Zone opens. 

Now known as DMZ Sandbox, the former Launch Zone opened its doors in Ryerson’s brand new Student Learning Centre as an on-campus space to help students looking to explore the world of entrepreneurship. More than six years later, DMZ Sandbox continues to help the next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs turn their ideas into real businesses.

$63.1M capital raised by DMZ startups in 2014

year 2015 in block letters
New name, new leadership, new global title. 

2015 marked a turning point for the Digital Media Zone. Over five years, the technology being incubated at the DMZ shifted and the majority of startups were no longer considered to be within the digital media field. The Digital Media Zone announced an official rebrand to “DMZ”, signalling it had become sector-agnostic. 

In July 2015, the DMZ saw another big change – Abdullah Snobar took over the role of Executive Director.  From the start, Abdullah invested in rebuilding the DMZ so it offered more functional workspaces, better communal areas to host events and investor meetings, and home-like amenities to build a comfortable environment for founders spending long hours on their startups. Under Abdullah’s leadership, the DMZ began putting dedicated resources into expanding its program team. DMZ’s offerings expanded to include more hands-on coaching, vibrant community events, support with customer acquisition and giving startups better access to capital. Revamping the program structure and creating a “founders first” environment ultimately led the DMZ to earn the title of the top incubator in North America by UBI Global!

$68.2M capital raised by DMZ startups in 2015

year 2016 in block letters
The first Advisory Council. 

As the DMZ continued to evolve its growth strategy, its next big move involved launching the first Advisory Council in 2016. Formed to help build the strongest startup community in the world, the Council members would go on to promote the DMZ in the broader business community and advise the DMZ on matters such as strategic direction, international growth, fundraising, industry trends and more. To this day, our Advisory Council nurtures the DMZ’s connection with the business community.

$77.1M raised by DMZ startups in 2016

year 2017 in block letters
DMZ opens a leading growth accelerator. 

In 2017, the DMZ launched its very first accelerator cohort to help entrepreneurs innovate faster and achieve hypergrowth. Three years and 13 cohorts later, the DMZ’s most competitive program has received world recognition.

That year, DMZ also gave Canadian tech startups a new place to call home south of the border and opened a new office space in the heart of New York City’s financial district, making the DMZ the first Canadian university incubator to open an office in the U.S.

$168.6M raised by DMZ startups in 2017

year 2018 in block letters
#1 in the world. 

In 2018, UBI Global ranked The DMZ as the number one university-based incubator in the world. UBI Global is a leader in performance analysis of business incubators around the world. The Stockholm-based research organization looks at over 20 key performance indicators to determine rankings.

That’s not all for 2018! DMZ was given yet another prestigious title by Waterstone Human Capital and was named as one of Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures, affirming the DMZ’s core values as an organization: -‘equity over everything’, ‘founders first’ and ‘be great’.

$197.7M capital raised by DMZ startups in 2018

year 2019 in block letters
Game-changing programs and work culture. 

Last year marked another year with many firsts for the DMZ. In 2019, we launched two brand new programs that both took a customized, founders-first approach. The first, DMZYYZ, launched a two-week soft-landing program that gave elite international entrepreneurs a personalized ticket into the North American market, fueling business integration with other global markets. The second being the Black Innovation Fellowship – a first-of-its-kind initiative in Canada aimed at breaking down barriers Black founders face, helping them scale their companies to the next level.

$189.1M capital raised by DMZ startups in 2019

year 2020 in block letters
10 years, 477 startups, 4,142 jobs created, $916.4M raised in total.

Between a global health crisis and economic downtown, it’s no secret the last six months of this year have brought pain, heartbreak and struggle for many in our community. The business landscape, in many ways, has completely transformed – but as a result, we’ve found some powerful silver linings.

The DMZ community thrives off of building strong in-person connections, but moving to a virtual environment has opened new opportunities for our startups and programs. We’ve been able to connect more extensively with founders, partners, and opportunities around the world. Virtual programming has allowed us to expand our offering to international companies, and we’re now serving (and accepting applications from) startups worldwide.

In the last six months alone, we: transformed our programming to run our Incubator and Accelerator virtually, helped international companies integrate into the North American market through the DMZ YYZ program, launched the #HackTheCurve challenge, hosted government calls advocating for startup COVID-19 support, had several student entrepreneurs go through our Startup Certified and Basecamp programs, provided dedicated programming for Black entrepreneurs (Black Innovation Fellowship Bootcamp) and women-led startups (Women Founders Fast Track pilot), joined industry leaders to establish the Innovation Economy Council, launched DMZ Innisfil to drive innovation in rural Ontario, introduced new international programs (shh… stay tuned!) and announced DMZ Ventures – a move that allows us to offer a full spectrum of startup support at every stage – from business ideation to investment.

That’s just a quick snapshot of what we’ve got going on – it’s been a busy year, but we won’t stop here.

DMZ’s vision is to see a world powered by ambitious entrepreneurs. In these times, we pledge to do whatever it takes to help our tech startups push past barriers to growth and transform into world-class organizations. 

Thank you to everyone who’s helped the DMZ become what it is today – the late Raymond Chang, Valerie Fox, Dr. Hossein Rahnama, Sheldon Levy, and Mohamed Lachemi, current President and Vice-Chancellor of Ryerson University, just to name a few. An immense thank you to all of our incredible startup founders and their teams, all of our coaches, advisors, partners, and staff – cheers to the next decade of building great Canadian tech companies.

We can’t wait to see what the next 10 years hold.

 

Are you a startup founder interested in learning more about DMZ’s programs? Reach out at dmz@ryerson.ca!

 

CanHack: Why young innovators should consider a future in cybersecurity

COVID-19 and the talent shortage in cybersecurity skills

If changes in technology, growing risks of data overload, and increased usage of Cloud platforms have not already overwhelmed organizations’ IT and cybersecurity teams, they certainly will now. 

COVID-19 has forced a large portion of Canadian employers, from government departments to private sector companies, to make a sudden switch to a remote working model (and for some, a permanent switch). The transition to operating in a remote format has brought about new implications for how organizations will maintain cyber safety since employees are now working in absence of companies’ usual security measures (firewalls, safe IT systems, etc.)

Furthermore, it has highlighted the greater need for more cybersecurity skills in the workforce. Talent shortages have long existed in the cybersecurity landscape, and we can only expect these skills gaps to widen even further as the new reality of remote working sets in. 

CanHack 2019
Our solution: CanHack

At the DMZ, it’s our job to not only help startup founders accelerate their business growth but to also empower Canada’s next generation of innovators who aspire to make a real difference. We develop and execute initiatives like CanHack, our student cybersecurity competition organized in partnership with RBC, to promote cyber literacy and to also address digital skills gaps in the labour market.

DMZ is launching CanHack for a third year. Thanks to continued support from RBC, the program will continue to redefine how secondary education engages with cybersecurity skills and will introduce a brand new cohort of high school students to the challenge. As both partners leverage their strengths to break new ground together, the overarching goal will be to encourage more students to think about pursuing a future career in cybersecurity and computer science. This year, instead of the fall of 2020, the program will begin in Spring 2021 to give teachers more time to onboard their students. (continue reading for more details regarding the new 2021 program date).


How CanHack works

CanHack leverages PicoCTF technology, an online open-source computer security platform established by the Carnegie Mellon University Cylab Security & Privacy Institute. This game-based learning experience creates an interactive and engaging experience where students are tasked with addressing cybersecurity challenges faced by Canadian financial institutions.

The competition and program format allow young innovators to be immersed in a fun and stimulating environment where they gain critical computer security skills, work with experts in the cyber field and compete for cash prizes. Best of all? The program is completely virtual and no prior experience in cybersecurity is required to participate. 


CanHack’s accomplishments to date

Since launching in 2018, CanHack has already:

  • Helped over 4000 high school student participants gain valuable knowledge and experience in cybersecurity
  • Worked with 91 schools in 2019, and 76 schools in 2018
  • Distributed $6500 in competition cash prizes to students and $9500 to schools to help integrate more technology into student lives

CanHack 2019 winners of cybersecurity skills competition
What’s to come? CanHack 2021

As partners, DMZ and RBC have forged a number of firsts in the Toronto tech community over the course of this relationship. CanHack 2021 will be a natural next step for this partnership in empowering a stronger, more vibrant cybersecurity landscape within Canada.

“Cybersecurity has become a major and critical element for all organizations with the acceleration of cybercrime, and the evolving threat landscape.  Expansion of digital services driven by the challenges of COVID-19 and need for the mass enablement of a secure remote workforce, cyber skills have become a key resource to nurture and invest in,” said Matthew Tim, VP Cyber Technology Office at RBC. “By partnering with DMZ and sponsoring initiatives like CanHack, RBC is investing in the future of cybersecurity by encouraging greater participation and interest from the young adults in high schools across Canada. We would like to promote greater involvement and interest in cyber as a career to narrow the skills gap.”

In an effort to increase program accessibility Canada-wide (and plan around COVID-19), we’re taking CanHack virtual this year with all workshops and sessions available online for students and teachers to engage with. In coordination with proper health and safety guidelines, we anticipate running in-person and virtual info sessions and workshops in Fall 2020. The CanHack Challenge Launch Event for PicoCTF will then take place in March 2021.

Besides offering programming to students coast to coast, CanHack 2021 will also be special in that DMZ will run female-only workshops on a number of cybersecurity topics to support females in STEAM and work with organizations like Hackergal to inspire and recruit more female participants to the challenge.


Hear from CanHack participants

A student’s perspective

“CanHack 2019 was very enjoyable for me. I got to learn more about cybersecurity and the different specializations within it, and technology in general. The competition gave me a good chance to compete with my friends and it was actually fun to play the game, see the campus of Ryerson as well as the downtown area. During the cyber expo day, I learned a lot about other people’s experiences and why each company was partnered with the event. I learned that as companies move into a more digital world, they need a good cybersecurity foundation, especially since there is more and more criminal activity around the cybersecurity field. I also listened to a 16-year-old entrepreneur and how she is using technology to change the world. Overall, CanHack was a great program to play in and I hope they can continue to do what they do in the future!”

– High school student from Middlefield Collegiate Institute

An educator’s perspective

“For the last two years, Clarkson Secondary School has taken advantage of the amazing opportunity provided by the Ryerson DMZ and RBC to learn about computer securities. This program has become a mandatory component of the computer science courses for students in grades 10 and 11. Prior to taking part in this event, students in my classes would have had very minimal exposure to cybersecurity or even a linux shell; now students get a full two weeks where they are exposed to this content. There is no way that I would have been able to create anything close to the PicoCTF competition on my own, and it is only through the partnership with the Ryerson DMZ and RBC that Clarkson Secondary School students get this experience.

CanHack allows students to develop a set of skills that goes behind technical know-how: teamwork, collaboration and leadership skills. Additionally, students have become significantly more aware of the impact that cybersecurity has on their daily lives. While the obvious benefit is to students who will study computer science and computer engineering once they leave high school, even students who will major in social sciences are now looking at laws and ethics around computer technology and cybersecurity. I want to personally thank the Ryerson DMZ, RBC, and their sponsors for allowing the students at Clarkson Secondary School to take part in this event over the last two years. Students now come into my classes asking when the competition will start every September.”

– Matthew Arduini, Curriculum Head – Mathematics, Computer Science, and Business, Clarkson Secondary School

CanHack 2019 helping youth get cybersecurity skills
With RBC’s diverse support and DMZ’s relevant programming, combined with the growing demand to bolster digital literacy in cybersecurity among Canadian youth, CanHack 2021 will be positioned to be a top challenge in Canada.

For high school educators across Canada who are interested in bringing more cybersecurity education and opportunities for students into their schools, you can learn more about the format of the program by reaching out to us at dmz@ryerson.ca.

For high school students looking to gain knowledge and experience in the areas of cybersecurity and computer science, stay tuned for more information on CanHack 2021!

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