Support for Black Innovation Fellowship continues to surpass expectations, program welcomes several new contributing partners

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Scotiabank, Accenture, TorQuest, TELUS Ventures, Magna International and community leaders among some of the recent contributors to the DMZ program 


TORONTO, October 7, 2020 – In an exciting update to the expansion goal for the
Black Innovation Fellowship (BIF) program, the DMZ is thrilled to announce several new partners that have come on board: Scotiabank, Accenture, TorQuest, TELUS Ventures and Magna International, along with other many individual donors. With this added momentum, the DMZ will have further capacity to raise the profile of the program, broaden the BIF program scope and provide more opportunities for Black innovators in Canada.

The Black Innovation Fellowship launched in May of 2019 to create meaningful opportunities for Black founders in the tech industry and improve Black representation within Canada’s entrepreneurship ecosystem. Since announcing the expansion campaign in June 2020, the DMZ has received an overwhelming response in contributions as both personal and organizational gestures of support.

Through the power of these newly announced program sponsors, BIF programming will expand to reach Black youth and create more opportunities for Black women in tech and entrepreneurship in Canada. Additionally, founders within existing programs will receive more direct support, including increased time with DMZ’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence and better access to grant opportunities and dedicated resources.

“At Scotiabank, we believe Canada’s future prosperity relies on empowering innovators and entrepreneurs of diverse strengths with the skills and experience to succeed,” says Sandra Odendahl, Vice President, Social Impact and Sustainability, Scotiabank. “We are pleased to support the expansion of the Black Innovation Fellowship program at the Ryerson DMZ, not only to help enable Black entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses, but to increase the number of Black entrepreneurial role models who will inspire others.”

“Improving access to capital and business networks for Black entrepreneurs in Toronto – and Canada more broadly – has never been more important.  As a Visionary Sponsor, TorQuest Partners is honoured to support the BIF and eager to advance the program’s goals, through entrepreneurship, thought leadership, and by supporting the BIF’s outreach events and engagement in the community.” 

“People experience racial injustice every day in Canada and we know that Black entrepreneurs face many barriers when starting and growing their businesses,” says Jeffrey Russell, President of Accenture Canada. “The DMZ’s Black Innovation Fellowship is leading the change with programming, mentorship, and access to capital with the goal to build a more inclusive and diverse tech ecosystem in Canada.” 

Isaac Olowolafe Jr., Founder of Dream Maker Ventures Inc., and BIF Founding Partner explains the need to keep up the momentum BIF has seen. The events of 2020 have been heartbreaking and tragic, but they’ve also led to the creation of a perfect storm for activism and social change. Why stop now? We will continuously be encouraging of those who are looking for ways to promote a more diverse and inclusive startup ecosystem, and stand in solidarity against racial injustice.”

Abdullah Snobar, Executive Director of DMZ, explains that outreach efforts to grow the program won’t stop anytime soon, “As the world reckons with systemic anti-Black racism, the DMZ remains committed to developing meaningful partnerships to grow Black businesses and tech. We thank all of you who responded to the clarion call for change, and we invite everyone to be part of this important movement” 

“As an institution dedicated to equity, diversity and inclusion, providing support, improving access  and  removing barriers for our Black community members is a key part of Ryerson University’s commitment to creating a more equitable campus community.” Mohamed Lachemi, President and Vice-Chancellor of Ryerson University, explains. “The Black Innovation Fellowship is a prime example of that kind of commitment in action –  both educating leaders and allowing them to make a tangible impact to help underrepresented entrepreneurs.”

Thank you to the individuals and organizations who have made major or multi-year commitments to the expansion of the Black Innovation Fellowship:

Major donors: Jordan and Faith Banks; Donette Chin-Loy Chang; Daniel Debow and Jordana Huber; Harley Finkelstein and Lindsay Taub; Michael Gettis; Sam Gregg-Wallace and Anna Lambert; Michael and Vanessa Hyatt; Christina Kramer; Mark Machin; Isaac Olowolafe Jr.; Rovinescu Family Fund; John and Jennifer Ruddy/Trinity Development Foundation; Rajen J. Ruparell; Arati Sharma and Satish Kanwar; The W. Garfield Weston Foundation

Corporate partners: Scotiabank, Accenture, Torquest Partners, TELUS Ventures, Magna International, Golden Ventures, Dream Maker Ventures, Shopify, Canadian Women’s Foundation, Georgian Partners, Whitecap Venture Partners, BMO

Government: City of Toronto

To make a donation to the Black Innovation Fellowship program, please visit this link. Both personal and business contributions are welcome. 

For more information about the Black Innovation Fellowship and how to get involved, please contact Ali Taiyeb, Head, Strategic Partnerships at ali.taiyeb@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 $916+ 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 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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