For a Quebec startup ecosystem to the benefit of Quebec’s collective wealth
by Startup Montréal
16 June 2021
16 June 2021
Liette Lamonde, CEO of Bonjour Startup Montréal, Louis-Félix Binette, executive director of Mouvement des accélérateurs d’innovation du Québec and 20 other signatories
The time is ripe in Quebec. The sanitary crisis comes to an end and the economy is relaunching. To keep a good momentum, our startups are key drivers of acceleration on which we must count if we can improve their conditions for success.
Reinvention is everywhere since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It clearly means that we have to drastically and quickly review the way we respond to the major changes we are experiencing. This capacity to innovate on demand is part of the DNA of a startup. Since April 2020, close to two thirds of all startups had already modified their business priorities to meet the new requirements of Quebec’s economy. Look at CHK PLZ or UEAT who started providing restaurants the latest payment methods and ways to order online, or at Dialogue who reached unicorn status thanks to rising demand in telemedicine. And the need to innovate will only increase in the coming years.
However, the road is still long for our startup ecosystem to reach its full potential and for our startups to contribute fully to Quebec’s economy. One of the first challenges is to recognize that startups are specific and to develop appropriate actions to support them. The main agents, including governments, established businesses, and support organizations, must create a fertile ground for the emergence and for the growth of startups.
By that we mean rapid access to international markets, the ability to attract and retain talent with specific skills, and a continuum of support and funding that assist innovators at all stages of their development. These three elements, among other challenges that we have observed, do not meet the expectations in Quebec to ensure a better success rate and survival of startups.
We have solutions that could answer, on a short- and medium-term basis, to the challenges faced by startups. Three of these solutions are clear priorities for our ecosystem and can be implemented quickly: a program providing access to optimal support throughout the startup’s journey; a world-class startup hub in downtown Montréal; and finally, an hypergrowth platform for Quebec scaleups offering them services to increase their international sales. These solutions could facilitate the emergence of the next Lightspeed and Shopify in Quebec.
To achieve all of this, there must be a desire to keep making Quebec a major innovation hub, and Montréal its economic and international connected centre.
Instead of setting up shop in the Silicon Valley or in London, entrepreneurs would come to Quebec, be that in Montréal, Quebec City or elsewhere in the province, to join a business community that spreads across our province. We are already fortunate in Quebec to have a mix of geographical environments, industries and talents. Let’s take advantage of these assets to create a rich and diverse ecosystem for startups.
The willingness to create a startup ecosystem that can compete with other markets across the globe is embodied by actors who work with startups on a regular basis and who contributed to the most recent brief submitted for the new Quebec strategy on research and innovation of the Quebec government.
To implement these projects and to champion this ambition for Quebec startups, we ask that governments, cities and other stakeholders join our movement in building a thriving startup ecosystem. Let’s build on this momentum and ensure that all Quebec startups, current and future, can contribute to the collective wealth of Quebec.