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Startup Montréal praises international vision with rebranding to Québec Tech

Startup Montréal praises international vision with rebranding to Québec Tech
Startup Montréal praises international vision with rebranding to Québec Tech

Québec Tech has received CAD$7 million from the Quebec government to help startups scale internationally.

One of the most recognizable nodes in Montreal’s startup ecosystem is rebranding.

Startup Montréal, the non-profit organization that has supported early-stage Montréal startups since 2019, will now be known as Québec Tech. The organization’s new name also carries a new mandate to increase the international footprint of Québec tech companies with high export potential.

“We are doing great things, but we need to be better organised and align a number of things to ensure that our entrepreneurs are well supported by the system.”

The transition to Québec Tech is supported by CAD 7 million in funding over three years from the Québec Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade (MEIE) through the Québec Strategic Strategy for Research and Investment in Innovation (SQRI).2) program. The federal government and the city of Montreal are already providing some financial support.

Richard Chénier, CEO of Québec Tech, will announce the new name today, on the first day of Startupfest in the Old Port of Montreal.

The innovation centre said the shift in focus is intended to “enable Québec to benefit from high productivity and remain competitive with other international ecosystems.” The government funding will also support Québec Tech’s operations at Ax-C, a new innovative startup space in the heart of Montreal’s business district, in the Place Victoria tower.

Québec Tech’s support services will launch this fall. The approach consists of three components: international launch strategies, promotion and visibility, and building connections.

Richard Chénier, CEO of Québec Tech, will announce the new name today, on the first day of Startupfest in the Old Port of Montreal.

“This support will create fast, efficient access to tools for high-potential startups, and develop initiatives to accelerate the commercialization of innovations created by these companies, allowing them to export more quickly,” a MEIE spokesperson wrote in a statement to BetaKit.

Some initiatives previously run by Startup Montréal will continue, albeit “in a different form,” Chénier said in an interview with BetaKit. The Revelations competition, for example, typically awards 20 startups a $20,000 grant, but it’s unclear whether that will change. Mouvement des accélérateurs d’innovation du Québec will take over the group’s weekly email and LinkedIn newsletters.

“The reason we made this change is because we need to improve the way we work with our startups here in Quebec,” Chénier said. “We’re doing great things, but we need to be better organized and align a few things to make sure our entrepreneurs are well supported by the system.”

The news comes at an uncertain time for Quebec’s startup scene, following the sale of Montreal startup hub Notman House and the threatened closure of Québec Numerique, a digital hub in Québec City focused on events.

RELATED: Community-led attempt to buy back Notman House fails

Chénier was named CEO of Startup Montréal last September. He told BetaKit that this transition was already in the works before his appointment. The team interviewed about 90 Québec entrepreneurs over the past year to gain insight into the challenges facing Québec startups in the early to late growth stages.

Simon De Baene, co-founder and CEO of Workleap, was consulted during this process. “It’s simple: we need a much stronger tech ecosystem in Québec, where building companies like Workleap is not the exception, but the norm,” he wrote in an email to BetaKit. “I’m very proud to be involved with Québec Tech. Their unwavering commitment to helping great companies from here reach the global stage is truly inspiring.”

Chénier outlined a persistent problem for new companies in Québec: going global at the right time. Québec Tech aims to solve this by ensuring that startups have the resources and connections to scale in the “sweet spot.”

“If you’re not in the right place at the right time, you miss the train,” he said, adding that Quebec provides a lot of support to early-stage startups but less to scale-ups.

“What we’re seeing is that if they want to start growing, and the companies are at that level, the best programs they can access are in Ontario,” Chénier said, citing Communitech and Invest Ottawa.

Removing “Montreal” from the organization’s name is an attempt to broaden the scope of its operations in the province, Chenier explained. He expects Québec Tech Support operations to take place in Québec’s three main business hubs: Montréal, Québec City and Sherbrooke, but said any tech startup in Québec can use their services.

As for the branding, Chénier says that in a nod to the close relationship between Quebec entrepreneurs and France, his team was inspired by French Tech, the French technology support organization.

In countries with more mature tech startup scenes, such as France or Sweden, startups are more likely to connect with local companies, which in turn helps put early-stage companies on the global map, Chénier said. He sees Québec Tech using a similar approach to boost Canadian productivity. “When we connect our best startups with our established companies, we help move the needle.”