The former trading floor of the Montréal Exchange in Place Victoria Tower will be resurrected as the anticipated Ax-C innovation hub by the end of 2024.
In March, the governments of Canada, Québec, and Montréal granted $48 million to École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) to develop Ax-C as a space for entrepreneurship with an international scope.
We’re giving ourselves the means to compete with the world’s most successful innovation ecosystems.”Pierre Fitzgibbon
“From 2025 onwards, Ax-C will bring together in one location many of the key players in the innovative entrepreneurial ecosystem, from both the public and private sectors,” ÉTS said in a statement.
ÉTS said it is working with Startup Montréal to court innovation and entrepreneurship partners that will provide complimentary offerings to the growth resources and support that Startup Montréal is providing to the Ax-C space.
Ax-C is part of Québec’s 2022-2027 strategy to support research and investment in innovation and to revitalize downtown Montréal.
“With Ax-C located in the heart of the city’s business district, we’re giving ourselves the means to compete with the world’s most successful innovation ecosystems,” Québec innovation minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said in a statement.
Ax-C is set to move in and boast a larger space than Montréal hub Notman House, whose future is now in question. Its owner and operator, the OSMO Foundation, is reported to owe $323,000 in unpaid mortgage fees to the Business Development Bank of Canada and Investissement Québec.
Some worry about the optics of Ax-C starting from scratch with a comfortable financial backing while Notman House struggles with Panache Ventures partner Scott Loong calling Notman an “organic expression of Montréal startup entrepreneurship.”
Others, like MTL NewTech co-founder Ilias Benjelloun, sees Ax-C offering something new. He noted that Montréal tech needs a larger space with strong international and business connections, adding that each hub could ideally “feed into the other.”
While the OSMO Foundation Board is not opposed to the concept, its chair, John Stokes, is worried about the gap between the sale of Notman House and Ax-C’s anticipated opening.
“I think my concern is that we would lose that. And I would love it to be that we have both,” Stokes said recently.
Feature image courtesy École de technologie supérieure.