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Montreal, November 21, 2017 – Bank of Montreal (BMO) and Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) are injecting $4 million into CDL-Montreal, the city’s first world-class startup support program. This initiative, which was unveiled last spring, will help to capitalize on Montreal’s expertise in artificial intelligence. The first cohort, composed of AI startups, will enter the program on December 15, led by HEC Montréal.

“We are proud to announce the participation of the prestigious founding partners,” said Hélène Desmarais, Chair of CDL-Montreal and Chair of HEC’s Board of Directors.

More than 200 new businesses with tremendous potential have submitted their applications; half of them are based abroad (e.g. the United States, Spain, England). Of these, 28 were selected to be part of the first cohort. The vast majority already have a patent or are in the process of obtaining one. Their average financing has reached $900,000. Entrepreneurs who have pursued doctoral studies head most of these startups.

This year’s program runs until June 2018. CDL-Montreal will employ an objectives-based mentoring approach led by experienced entrepreneurs, representatives of major investment funds and world-class scientists. The purpose of the program is to develop tech startups and create value. CDL-Montreal is focusing on AI and data science. Selected applicants will have the opportunity to collaborate with the Institute for Data Valorization (IVADO) and the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA), whose teams, including researcher Yoshua Bengio, are recognized internationally for their work in data science, operational research and AI.

“The CDL-Montreal program represents a stimulant challenge not only for our start up companies but also for all the partners involved in this innovative project,” said Fil Papich, Co-Head BMO Capital Markets, Quebec. “HEC’s commitment to building bridges between BMO and the top emerging technology companies provides us with a valuable perspective on providing products and services that enable technology entrepreneurs to accomplish their business ventures.”

“This is our moment to emerge as an international AI powerhouse and nurturing the Canadian startup ecosystem will help us do so,” says Dr. Foteini Agrafioti, head, Borealis AI and chief science officer, RBC. “By partnering with the Creative Destruction Lab and investing in their Montreal location, we want to ensure startups in the region find the network of support and resources they need to compete on the global stage where they belong.”

CDL-Montreal (Creative Destruction Lab Montreal) is the result of a partnership between HEC Montréal and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. CDL is the country’s premier seed-stage program for massively scalable, science-based companies. CDL is neither an incubator nor an accelerator: it helps the most promising fledgling business enterprises by offering support from mentor investors, investment funds, and AI and data science leaders. 

Furthermore, specially selected MBA students will assist these startups with their business plans, with a possible emphasis on human resources, marketing, finance and administration according to each venture’s needs.

In addition to HEC Montréal, the program now extends across Canada, through partnerships with the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia, the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary and the Rowe School of Business at Dalhousie University.

Full press release