Harper Government Helps Launch Canadian Start-Ups in Dynamic New York City Market

Six promising Canadian digital media firms win development opportunity to expand and succeed beyond the border, creating jobs and growth at home

February 21, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today announced that six promising Canadian digital media start-ups will take part in a new Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) initiative in New York City. The CTA initiative will give Canadian companies an innovative platform from which to access New York’s dynamic start-up technology market and potential investment opportunities.

“Under this program, which is designed to assist innovative and world-leading Canadian entrepreneurs expand in a dynamic and cutting-edge industry, our government is helping some of Canada’s most promising digital media companies succeed in world markets,” said Minister Fast. “Large and dynamic markets like New York City can help expose these entrepreneurs and start-ups to investors, like-minded innovators and other key contacts that can help Canadian companies accelerate their access to new markets and create new high-value jobs.”

Launched this year by the Consulate General of Canada in New York City, the initiative is run by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service and modelled on the hugely successful CTA initiatives in California’s Silicon Valley. Participating companies are granted three months at General Assembly—a campus for technology, design and entrepreneurship at the heart of New York City’s dynamic start-up community—as well as access to targeted business-development and entrepreneurial resources, such as mentoring from business leaders and venture capitalists. By establishing a presence in New York City—the global capital of advertising, media, commerce and finance—Canadian start-ups will be able to tap into new business opportunities in sectors that are currently experiencing significant advances in Internet-based technology and innovation.

“The Canadian Technology Accelerator initiative is a significant contribution to our growth, and its timing is impeccable, coinciding with our expansion plans,” said William Mougayar, founder and CEO of Engagio, a participant in the CTA initiative. “We are making New York City the launch point for our U.S. operations and look forward to taking full advantage of the New York City start-up ecosystem. The assistance and on-the-ground market intelligence provided by Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service was invaluable to our success in joining this prestigious initiative here in the Big Apple.”

Since being accepted into the CTA initiative, Engagio has received a round of seed financing that includes investors from both Canada and New York City.

"The Canadian Technology Accelerator initiative has proven to be an effective way forward for ambitious, innovative Canadian companies,” said Minister Fast. “By connecting world-class entrepreneurs to large, dynamic markets, and with experienced business people, investors and like-minded peers, our government is helping small and medium-sized companies succeed and create more jobs for hard-working Canadians."

The six Canadian start-ups were chosen from among Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service clients based on their high potential for growth and their prospects for success in the New York City market. During their three-month participation in the CTA initiative, the companies will focus on strengthening their venture capital and angel networks, landing marquee clients and partnerships, and exploring expansion of their business-development teams in the New York City area. They will be followed by another group of promising Canadian companies that have real potential to create tomorrow’s innovations. Recruitment for the second group will begin in March 2012, and their CTA placement is expected to start at the end of May.

To learn more about the Government of Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, please visit Canadian Trade Commissioner Service.

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A backgrounder follows.

For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-7332

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000

Backgrounder - Canadian Technology Accelerator Initiative

Participating companies

The following six companies were selected from among the Trade Commissioner Service’s clients to be part of the Canadian Technology Accelerator initiative in New York City:

BFB Fashion Group Inc. of Montréal, Quebec - Kassondra O. Dyebo, Founder and CEO

BFB is a business-to-business global Internet platform that unites brands and buyers, cultivating fashion identities the world over.

Buyosphere of Montréal, Quebec - Tara Hunt, CEO and Co-founder

Buyosphere.com is a shopping questions-and-answers website where people who know how to shop help people who don’t.

Engagio Inc. of Toronto, Ontario - William Mougayar, Founder and CEO

Engagio is a website enabling online conversations and relationships across social networks and commenting systems.

Recoset Inc. of Montréal, Quebec - James Prudhomme, CEO

Recoset is a machine-learning and predictive-modeling platform that optimizes data in real time for use in advertising technology.

Speakerfile Inc. of Toronto, Ontario - Peter Evans, Founder and CEO

Speakerfile is the first enterprise-grade content management solution and online marketplace designed to connect corporate speakers with events. Speakerfile is now the fastest growing online network of corporate and professional speakers.

Uken Games of Toronto, Ontario - Chris Ye, CEO and Co-founder

Uken Games builds highly addictive games for mobile and social platforms, driven by consumer demand and a desire to create strong communities.

The Canadian Technology Accelerator Initiative

The Government of Canada’s Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) initiative, led by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service at Canada’s consulates general in San Francisco and New York City, provides Canadian start-ups in information and communications technology, digital and social media, gaming and clean technologies with access to unique resources and contacts that can help them grow internationally. The four CTAs—located in California (Plug and Play Tech Center, Sunnyvale; RocketSpace, San Francisco; and Environmental Business Cluster, San Jose) and New York (General Assembly, New York City)—provide Canadian companies with the opportunity to engage in business development to further their growth in these key markets, in addition to accessing key venture funding and entrepreneurial resources available in the Silicon Valley and New York City.

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service

Located in more than 150 cities worldwide and in 18 regional offices across Canada, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, part of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, is Canada’s most extensive network of international business professionals. The Trade Commissioner Service helps companies that are looking to export, invest abroad, attract investment or develop innovation and R & D partnerships. Visit Canadian Trade Commissioner Service for more information.