Reimagine business continuity for main street businesses amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
RECEIVE UP TO $25,000 IN FUNDING
The Pitch Competition gives small and medium enterprises incorporated in Canada the opportunity to showcase their solution to a broad audience, including industry, investors, government, media, and more. Up to ten finalists will join us to pitch their solutions.
WHAT IS THE PITCH COMPETITION?
In this Pitch Competition, ventureLAB has partnered with the Regional Municipality of York and Digital Main Street to explore, source, and pilot novel solutions that support business continuity amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Solutions can address one or a combination of the following challenge areas:
- Increase market visibility/presence and business networking opportunities
- Enable staff retention and access to qualified talent
- Elevate consumer confidence, particularly for non-essential goods and services
- Manage costs associated with COVID-19 protocol compliance
WHAT YOU’LL GET IF SELECTED?
The winning finalist will receive $25,000, the runner-up will receive $15,000, and the third-place finalist will receive $10,000 in funding. These finalists will have access to advice, mentorship, business-relevant training, professional networks and the opportunity to pilot or scale their innovative solutions in York Region.
HOW TO APPLY
1. Complete this form.
2. Submit a pitch deck with the following components:
- Brief description of your business
- Business model
- Financial projection for the next 2 years
- Current business leadership and team members
- Description of your solution (product/service)
- Description of the technology used as part of the solution (if applicable)
- How your solution has the potential/ability to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19, foster business continuity, growth and development within the region, and address the specific challenge area
- Your unique value proposition
- How you intend to use the funding if selected as one of the top two finalists
- Potential market size
Applications will close on November 11, 2020 at 12:00 p.m. est.
Please note that applicants who have already applied to Stream 1 of the York Region Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund are excluded from Streams 2 & 3 and are thus ineligible to apply for this competition. If you have previously participated in the 2019 Made In York Region Pitch Competition but did not win, you may apply to this competition.
Application Period: October 23 – November 11 (12 PM EST)
Finalists Selected: November 12
Pitch Preparation: November 12 to 24
Mock Pitch Day: November 25
Pitch Day: December 3
Solution Implementation: Early December 2020 to mid-February 2021 (Dates to be Finalized)
This challenge is open to existing small and medium enterprises that have an established market fit and are seeking opportunities to pilot their solution.
- Be incorporated in Canada.
- Be a registered for-profit business in the province of Ontario
- Be a small or medium enterprise (99 employees or less)
- Have not been previous winners of the York Region Entrepreneurship & Innovation Fund
- Be able to participate in all program stages if selected and virtually attend all events taking place on the key dates listed above
- Be committed to working with community partners to implement solutions in York Region upon winning the prize money, in such ways including but not limited to:
- Developing or launching a product/service
- Hiring team members to pilot solution
- Delivering the solution to community stakeholders (including main street businesses, Small Business Enterprise Centres, Chambers of Commerce, etc.)
- Be located in York Region or be willing to relocate or co-locate in York region or at ventureLAB’s innovation hub for a period of six months, upon winning the prize money (depending on public health regulations)
- Pitch a solution that is scalable to positively impact businesses and main streets within the Region and beyond by February 2021
Please note that solutions do not need to be tech-based or tech-enabled but should be ready for implementation with necessary resources in place upon winning.
Submitted proposals/applications will be evaluated and scored based on a set of criteria in alignment with the challenge statement, that will include:
- Immediate Economic Impact: Job creation, funds leveraged, partnerships created, business growth stimulated and generally foster business continuity within the region between December 2020 – February 2021
- Alignment with Regional goals and priorities, ventureLAB goals and priorities, and the 2020 challenge statement to enable the economic viability of main street and its broader ecosystem
- Community Collaboration: Be committed to working with community partners to deliver the product/service to end users
- Innovation: Innovation and Entrepreneurship Benefits – how novel, creative and/or improved the product or service is, relevant to technological and economic growth
- Scalability: Demonstrates a potential for replication and growth of the product or service, as well as the applicability to other businesses, events, and communities
- Feasibility and Market Opportunity: Depicts a good business model that has a clear and compelling mission to grow a sustainable and commercially viable business
- Financial Stability: Stable, sustainable financial projections
Pitch Preparation: The finalists will be provided with resources and a 1-1 pitch preparation advisory session facilitated by ventureLAB from November 12 to 24 to refine their value proposition and perfect their pitch. Finalists will submit video recordings of their pitch for the Mock Pitch Competition by November 24. Based on feedback received from judges, finalists may choose to refine their presentations and resubmit their videos by November 30.
Pitch Day: The pitch preparations will culminate in a Pitch Day where the finalists present their solution to a panel of judges. The event will be held virtually during the Made in York Region event on December 3. The top two winning finalists will be announced at the awards ceremony.
Implementation: Periodic reports and touchpoints with the finalists will be scheduled throughout the program, from early-December 2020 to mid-February 2021. Metrics will be collected by ventureLAB throughout the entire program.
HAVE A QUESTION?
Send your questions to
ventureLAB is a leading technology hub located in Markham in York Region, Canada’s second largest tech cluster. Through our programs focused on capital, talent, technology, and customers, ventureLAB has supported over 2,000 tech companies and entrepreneurs, including 100 companies that have raised over $100 million and created 3,500 jobs. Our community of entrepreneurs, innovators, and tech leaders has always been at the heart of what we do at ventureLAB. Through this initiative, we will engage our community to help main street businesses adopt digital solutions and help future-proof Ontario businesses.
Read more on what this means for businesses in York Region and across Ontario.
ABOUT DIGITAL MAIN STREET (DMS)
Digital Main Street is a program and service that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. It is cost-free, made possible by the generous support of the Government of Canada and FedDev Ontario through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund. It was introduced to help Ontario’s bricks and mortar businesses and the economy get through this challenging time.
ABOUT THE YORK REGION ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND INNOVATION FUND
The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund will support development of the innovation network in York Region. This year, in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the fund will focus on business continuity solutions from communities and business organizations.
For this year, the Fund is focused specifically on business continuity to help mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 and to drive business and economic recovery in the Region. Organizations applying for this fund should be engaged in projects that will have a larger impact on helping other businesses and organizations recover from economic loss, generate profit, or increase employment in a new post COVID-19 world.