Zone Startups India is set to launch the sixth edition of the Next BIG Idea Contest, a flagship program of the tech accelerator. This contest, first started in 2013, helps five startups from across the country a soft-landing opportunity in Canada as a gateway to North America.
Zone Startups is the global brand of tech accelerators operated by Toronto based Ryerson Futures Inc., with large operations in Canada and India. The contest was launched in 2013, as a joint initiative of Zone Startups India and Government of Ontario, Canada. Over the years, several other partners have come onboard, and this year it includes Global Affairs Canada, Government of British Columbia and Government of Alberta.
Canada has fostered a vibrant tech ecosystem for several years now. From the first ATM machine being deployed in the 1960's to more recently being home to tech companies such as Nortel and BlackBerry and large success stories such as OpenText, Shopify, Wave, Kik, Wattpad, Thalmic Labs, 500px and HootSuite.
The selected startups get access to a bespoke market access program that includes mentorship, industry connects, investor meetings and a great international exposure.
The Next BIG Idea contest boasts of an illustrious alumni, that includes startups such as CitrusPay, Sokrati, Heckyl, Vidooly, ShieldSquare, Plackal, Flip Technologies, AdSparx, Konotor (acquired by FreshDesk), Data Resolve, Uncanny Vision, Gray Routes, Sequretek etc.
"Seeing the Canadian and Indian startup ecosystem simultaneously and closely, we could see a natural fit and an opportunity to be an enabler. We see the annual Next BIG Idea Contest as our give-back to the ecosystem, by exposing a handful of startups to the Canadian ecosystem and fuelling their international aspirations and enabling the same" says Ajay Ramasubramaniam, Director (India), Zone Startups.
Over the past 5-years, the Next BIG Idea Contest roadshows have been to 16 startup hubs from across the country, and attracted over 1,700 applications, from which 27 startups have been soft-landed in major Canadian cities.
â€śIt was very encouraging to see how numerous high quality grant/visa programs funded by Governments (Canadian Provinces) have been successfully utilized by worthy startupsâ€ť says Soubhagya Sahoo, CEO & Co-Founder of Gray Routes who won the Next BIG Idea contest 2017 & participated in 2- weeks market access program in Canada last November.
The applications for the contest will be accepted online from 29th June 2018 till 15th September 2018.
In addition, entrepreneurs also have the chance of winning the Aditya Jha Entrepreneurship India Award, which is a grant of Rs 5 lakh for social entrepreneurs who have translated their innovative and impactful ideas into technology-driven businesses given by Aditya Jha himself, an Indo-Canadian philanthropist & serial entrepreneur.
Canada and India have been strengthening their collaboration for the startup ecosystem over the past few years. In February this year, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited India, both countries signed several MoUs to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.
This included the formation of an Indo-Canada Innovation Bridge was formed through an MoU signed between Canada-based public-private innovation hub Communitech and Hyderabad-based startup incubator T-Hub. The idea was to support global commercialization of each otherâ€™s technology companies. Canadaâ€™s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development also visited T-Hub to interact with startups and women entrepreneurs.
The two countries also launched Bilateral Entrepreneurship Program, with a focus on Women Entrepreneurs, in partnership with Zone Startups.