U of T Entrepreneurship partners with Desjardins on startup prize

One of the biggest challenges a student entrepreneur faces when starting a business is capital — it costs money to develop a prototype, pay for professional services like legal advice, and then market a product or service to customers.

Take part in the Desjardins Startup Prize.

“This award means that the University of Toronto’s best and brightest innovators will be able to secure funding for their start-up without sacrificing equity in their company,” he said Jon French, Director, U of T Entrepreneurship (UTE). “More than $100,000 in non-dilutive prize money will be awarded.”

The competition is open to all teams with at least one full-time U of T student or graduate student and the award will be presented during Entrepreneurship Week, March 6-10, 2023.

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“Entrepreneurship Week is the university’s annual celebration of innovation, with events at all three campuses – and the perfect place for competitors to showcase their startups,” said French.

Finalists are divided into early-stage and late-stage categories based on criteria such as previous funding and current earnings. They each have five minutes to present themselves to a panel of investors, entrepreneurs and other business leaders before being asked questions in a format reminiscent of CBC The Dragon’s Lair. The prize money will be split between the two categories, with the top three finishers sharing $30,000 in the early stage category and $70,000 in the late stage category.

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“The commitment to entrepreneurial activities at the U of T is increasing rapidly,” said French. “There are nearly 500 teams annually creating innovative solutions to the world’s problems, and this support from Desjardins gives them the critical resources they need to grow and thrive.”

The Desjardins Startup Prize is part of a larger three-year commitment as a lead partner for UTE, which will also include a financial literacy workshop for founders and the Desjardins Speaker Series – inspiring thought-leadership events on topics relevant to the UTE community.

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“Entrepreneurs are critical to Canada’s socio-economic development. They create jobs and new opportunities, they innovate to solve our challenges while meeting the needs of our communities,” said Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group.

“Supporting entrepreneurs means investing in the vitality of our communities. That’s why we’re so proud to partner with the University of Toronto to support entrepreneurs and bring their dream one step closer to becoming a reality.”


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