DMZ receives overwhelming support from Canadian leaders to expand Black Innovation Fellowship

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Leading Canadian entrepreneur and investor Michael Hyatt joins as Black Innovation Fellowship Champion


TORONTO, June 29, 2020 – In less than a week following the
announcement of the $1M Black Innovation Fellowship (BIF) expansion, DMZ has reached $400K in funding from six program donors. If momentum continues, the initiative will be well on its way to achieving its fundraising goal and will have a promising second year ahead.


Leading Canadian entrepreneur
Michael Hyatt and his wife Vanessa Luna Hyatt, lawyer, have joined Ottawa-based couple Harley Finkelstein, COO at Shopify and entrepreneur Lindsay Taub in encouraging other tech leaders to join them as BIF Champions.

“Racial injustice has blocked opportunities for those in the Black community for far too long. We need to address this, and frankly, we all need to do more. By providing resources, mentorship, access to resources and capital, BIF is changing the face of tech. I’m calling on all of you to make this change a reality,” explained Hyatt in a video posted today.

The Black Innovation Fellowship launched last year to foster more meaningful and concrete outcomes for Black founders in the tech landscape and ultimately improve Black representation within Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. “Representation matters, it’s cliché but it’s true. It is hard to not be around anyone that looks like you. We have a community at the DMZ, it’s awesome… and programs like this are a step in the right direction,” said Leon Nsengiyumva, Founder of DMZ startup Odessu.

“Thanks to an overwhelming response in donations from Canadian leaders thus far, it’s looking optimistic that we will be able to achieve, and even potentially surpass, our $1,000,000 funding target,” said Abdullah Snobar, Executive Director of DMZ. “We’re inspired by the generosity of our supporters who are making a difference in the lives of Black entrepreneurs.”

Ryerson University pledged to match all major donations of up to $500K. To make a donation to the Black Innovation Fellowship program, please visit this link. Both personal and organization donations are welcome, in any amount. 

For more information about BIF and how to get involved, please contact Krishan Mehta, Assistant Vice President, Engagement, Ryerson University at krishan@ryerson.ca 

Media contact
Emily Collins, DMZ
e1collins@ryerson.ca

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About The DMZ:
We help companies grow their business. That means when founders want a high-impact and highly-customized tech accelerator program, they come to the DMZ. Ranked as the #1 university-based tech accelerator in the world, the DMZ provides a launchpad for founders to build and scale fast. Bigger and bolder than any other program of its kind, the DMZ has been creating the next gen of game-changing, global businesses since 2010. To date, the DMZ has helped more than 400 startups raise $870+ million in capital and create 4,000+ jobs. With its headquarters in Toronto, Canada, the DMZ has a widely-recognized international presence including offices in New York City and 70 partnerships around the world. Learn more at www.ryerson.ca/dmz

About Ryerson University:
Ryerson University is Canada’s leader in innovative, career-oriented education. Urban, culturally diverse and inclusive, the university is home to more than 45,300 students, including 2,600 Master’s and PhD students, 3,800 faculty and staff, and more than 216,000 alumni worldwide. For more information, visit ryerson.ca.  

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