Creative Destruction Lab expands seed-stage program to Paris


The University of Toronto’s Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) has announced a partnership with international business school HEC Paris to expand to the French capital. This location will be CDL’s second in Europe, with its first being in the United Kingdom.

“[CDL] can play a vital role in building the next generation of European deep tech champions.”

CDL will be offering mentorship, technical advice, support, and opportunities to raise capital from both North American and European investors at its new location. The initiative at HEC Paris is being led by Thomas Astebro, the L’Oreal Professor of Entrepreneurship, and venture capital investor Michael Jackson.

“At HEC Paris we embrace the concept ‘Learn to Dare.’ In CDL, HEC sees the opportunity to dare help turn today’s scientific breakthroughs into tomorrow’s world-changing businesses,” said Peter Todd, professor and dean at HEC Paris.

CDL was founded in 2012 by Ajay Agrawal at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. The accelerator operates out of five universities across Canada and in Europe, at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School. CDL does not require equity or fees from participating companies and receives most of its funding through private donors. Recently, the program hosted its Machine Learning and the Market for Intelligence conference in Toronto, which focused on how AI will affect power and society.

“The types of founders that join our program are often engineers or scientists. They have deep expertise in their technical domain, but lack business judgment,” said Agrawal. “They are regularly faced with a to-do list of hundreds of things they could be doing to build their business, but don’t have the cycles to do all those things, and so they have to pick from the list. Judgment is the skill of prioritizing the list.”

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“CDL has designed a marketplace for judgment that brings together those who need judgment and those who have it,” Agrawal added. “The structured, objective-oriented context in which the market operates helps entrepreneurs learn to prioritize their objectives in a series of 8-week sprints.”

Over 1,500 founders from more than 30 countries have participated in CDL’s programming. The accelerator said its commercialization efforts have generated over $4.34 billion in equity value. Applications for CDL-Paris will open in April 2020, and startups located outside Paris are also encouraged to apply. CDL-Paris will host four sessions over the course of the program year, finishing with CDL Super Session, which takes place annually in Toronto.

“CDL has a proven track record of success in helping science-based startups scale,” said Jackson. I’m thrilled to be part of bringing the program to Paris, where it can play a vital role in building the next generation of European deep tech champions.”

Image courtesy Unsplash. Photo by Augustin de Montesquiou.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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