InnoCité MTL has unveiled the five companies in its second cohort, presenting them at an event in downtown Montreal on Friday, all five of whom are challenged with developing technological solutions for some of the key challenges facing the city, and cities in general.
InnoCité MTL is Canada’s first smart city accelerator, with active cooperation from the city of Montreal, and has selected the five companies based on the quality of their business plan, their potential for growth, and the relevance of their solution to urban challenges.
As Deputy Chairman of Montreal’s Executive Committee responsible for digital technology Harout Chitilian pointed out in his opening remarks, this is the second year that the city of Montreal has been posing the question, What is a smart city?
The municipal government’s 2015-2017 Smart and Digital City Action Plan outlines six categories for how technology can make a difference in the daily lives of people: 1) public Wi-Fi 2) an ultra high-speed multiservice network 3) a smart city economic cluster 4) smart mobility 5) participatory democracy and 6) digital public services.
Gathering at the Desjardins Lab in Montreal, the five companies pitched their ideas to an audience, as part of the 12-week acceleration process begun on March 14th.
Emphasizing the importance of mentors in the life of an entrepreneur, InnoCité MTL has assembled an experienced roster from the worlds of venture capital, entrepreneurs, corporate executives, municipal government and public organizations to help guide the five teams, providing them with feedback and advice to bring their ideas to fruition.
In his opening remarks ahead of the pitches, Chief Technology Officer for Desjardins, Chadi Habib, mentioned the importance of three people in his personal life who had served as mentors to him, people who “structured all my values, all my ways of thinking.”
“In the mentor relationship, there’s always a reciprocal dynamic,” he said. “Yes, the mentor is going to shape and support and help the person who’s receiving the mentorship. But often, the entrepreneurs will also influence the mentor.”
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The five companies are: 1) Potloc, whose platform deals with where to optimize a business’ location in a neighbourhood to help mitigate the high rate of brick-and-mortar business closure 2) Key2Access, a remote key device that helps blind people cross the street by letting the infrastructure know of their presence 3) Wedo, a platform for connecting citizens with contract free services, such as grass mowing, snow removal and pool maintenance 4) Goowl, a platform for magnifying a company’s philanthropic efforts by engaging its customers and 5) Local Logic, another location-based platform, but this time aimed at consumers, provide them with insight into “the hidden value of great urban locations”, whether houses or hotels or restaurants.
“For the selection of the projects, we always want to make sure that it is something that is needed, and that we can help these companies,” said InnoCité MTL Director General Béatrice Couture during a chat with Cantech Letter, adding, “We want to find the best innovations that are interesting and that we think could be of use to the city, and to cities all around the world as well. It’s not only for Montreal. But if Montreal can be a test bench, that’s great.”
The InnoCité MTL acceleration process is divided into three phases, during which the companies define their value proposition, demonstrate the scalability of their product, and then finally establish a go-to-market strategy.
During that process, the teams are following a path of development through a variety of training and workshops coached by mentors selected for them, with the possibility of taking in a $50,000 venture capital investment.