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Caravan Will Carry Atlantic Canadian Entrepreneurs To Montreal’s Startupfest for Free

Participants at a past Startup Fest. Image: Submitted

FREDERICTON – Up to fifty-five entrepreneurs from Atlantic Canada will be travelling in a “caravan” to Startupfest in Montreal for the second year in a row.

“The East Coast Caravan is zero cost for the entrepreneurs and it gives larger businesses the ability to give back to local entrepreneurs,” said Vanessa MacLean, the entrepreneurial services coordinator at Planet Hatch in Fredericton, who will be leading the Atlantic Canadian bus to Startupfest.

The bus is sponsored by various organizations, including the Pond Deshpande Centre, Venn Innovation and the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation.

“I think it’s very important to be that collaboration hub for New Brunswick and show not only New Brunswickers that we’re willing to work together to grow the province, but also show our entrepreneurs that there is a support system behind them and everything that they try to do,” MacLean said.

The application process has started and there’s already “significant interest,” she said.

“We usually like to cap it just so we can take a smaller group,” she said. “It allows them to be able to collaborate and become a closer-knit group, and get the most out of the experience as a team.”

Interested entrepreneurs can apply to be part of the East Coast Caravan through its website or by contacting MacLean directly. The deadline to apply is June 24 midnight.

Now in its eighth year, Startupfest is expected to host around 7,000 entrepreneurs and investors from July 10-14. This will be the first year a formal initiative focusing on inclusion is integrated into the festival.

Under the Inclusion Initiative, BDC Capital and QuickBooks will subsidize a 90 per cent discount for 1,000 tickets for female tech entrepreneurs, Indigenous entrepreneurs and those from other underrepresented communities, including those who are differently-abled or live in remote areas.

Joint Economic Development Initiative and Startup Canada are also partners in the program.

Startupfest founder Philippe Telio said in a previous interview with Huddle that it’s important to make the event accessible.

“Our mission is to create more entrepreneurs and better quality of entrepreneurs,” he said. “There’s already a pool of talent that could become entrepreneurs within our society that just doesn’t feel like this is an option for them. So, it’s just giving them that option, first and foremost.”

Telio said the idea is to ensure everybody can compete at the same level.

“We want them to be part of the community and feel welcomed and as equal as everybody else,” he said.

Interested entrepreneurs can apply to the program on Startupfest’s website with a $50 commitment fee, which can be refunded if they can prove they will be attending. The tickets normally cost $500.

RELATED: Startupfest Launches Inclusion Initiative For Underrepresented Groups