Finding ways to work better, faster and smarter: that’s what artificial intelligence research is all about. HEC Montréal will soon be welcoming NextAI’s first Montreal cohort, an accelerator for entrepreneurs and founders who develop innovative products and services in this leading-edge sector.
NEXT Canada is a Toronto-based non-profit committed to promoting innovation, nurturing business creation and grooming the “next” generation of entrepreneurs. There are three programs: Next 36, Next Founders and the NextAI acceleration program, which hit the ground running in Toronto two years ago.
This is one of only a handful of early stage programs that takes an upstream approach to business development to focus on the ideation phase. This year will be its first in Montreal. Candidates apply via a unified platform that gives them access to a Canada-wide network.
Applications can be made to the business or AI stream. The full-time program is ideal for recent MBA graduates or candidates with a graduate or postgraduate degree in a technical field, whether or not it is directly related to AI.
“Entrepreneurs will be ‘incubated’ from late February to late September 2019. We are currently in the midst of recruiting efforts to eventually choose 25 projects for our winter cohort. Our longer-term objective is to create and support 125 companies over the next five years. Our program is extremely generous. We start by offering $50,000 to each business, with some very interesting conditions to go along with it,” said Simon Dandavino, Director of Operations of NextAI in Montreal.
Allset.ca has been around for all of a year, but it has already taken advantage of the NextAI experience to launch a groundbreaking online insurance shopping assistant. Fellipe Monteiro and Xavier Freeman co-founded Allset.ca in 2017. By answering a few simple questions on their website, users can tap into a powerful algorithm to vet dozens of insurance offers to find the ones that best match customers’ needs. “NextAI has been a great boost for getting our product on the market and landing our first customers,” explains Xavier Freeman. What his team has enjoyed most has been the preferred access to world-class scientists, who have taken the time to share their expertise.
“We are putting together a network of outstanding mentors with strong connections to the Montreal ecosystem, for one because we are at HEC Montréal and we have great links to the Creative Destruction Lab,” Dandavino points out.
NextAI is home to a group of prominent academics from HEC Montréal, McGill, Toronto, York University, and Harvard, including Yoshua Bengio, Joëlle Pineau, Christopher Pal, François Bellavance, Jackie Cheung, Laurent Charlin, and many more. Participants can tap into this incredible wealth of expertise for free.
NextAI’s offices are located in Mile-Ex, in the heart of Montreal’s burgeoning AI sector. With neighbours such as the Institute for Data Valorization (IVADO), Thales and its CortAIx research centre, Element AI and Borealis AI, participants are in the heart of an extremely stimulating, networking-friendly ecosystem. The organization also plans to create a community in its work space, with shared events and open workshops. If you are passionate about social innovation and believe that new businesses can create value for employees and the community as a whole, why not take the NextAI plunge?
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