DMZ receives $500,000 grant to expand Basecamp program for student entrepreneurs

To date, Basecamp has helped over 365 students launch 151 startups.

DMZ has received $500,000 CAD from the Embark Student Foundation’s Major Grant Program to expand its student-focused entrepreneurship programming.

The Toronto-based incubator specifically plans to expand Basecamp, its hybrid summer entrepreneurship program that helps students turn their ideas into tech solutions for social or economic challenges.

Basecamp will now be offered in two phases: “Sprint” and “Voyage.” The Sprint phase will include a four-week pitch coaching experience that gives students the chance to pitch their businesses at tech conference Collision, win a trip to New York City, receive support from DMZ’s New York office, and gain access to sought-after tech events.

“To build the next generation of successful startups, we must have a hands-on approach that immerses students in the realities of startup life.”

Participants in the Sprint program will continue to the second phase of Basecamp: Voyage, the eight-week program that focuses on ideation, development, and a culminating pitch competition. Students will get one-on-one mentoring, expert coaching, and networking opportunities. According to DMZ’s website, students can apply for the Voyage program without completing Sprint, but those participating in Sprint must commit to joining Voyage.

To date, Basecamp has supported 365 students who have created 151 new startups, according to DMZ. In a statement, DMZ executive director Abdullah Snobar said the new grant funding will help create opportunities for DMZ to teach students “how to embrace the grit and hustle” of entrepreneurship.

“Fostering a thriving innovation ecosystem in Canada demands a lot more than just nudging youth towards a career in entrepreneurship,” Snobar added. “To build the next generation of successful startups, we must have a hands-on approach that immerses students in the realities of startup life—showcasing the highs and the lows.”

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As part of Basecamp’s final pitch competition, DMZ has increased its available grant prizes from $20,000 CAD to $50,000 CAD. The incubator said of this new total, $30,000 comes from Embark’s contribution, with the remaining $20,000 CAD from The George and Helen Vari Foundation.

The Embark Student Foundation is the non-profit parent company of education savings and planning firm Embark. DMZ, which is housed at Toronto Metropolitan University, was one of seven programs at Canadian post-secondary institutions to receive a combined $2.7 million in grant funding through Embark’s Major Grant Program. 

Other post-secondary recipients include Concordia University, Niagara College, North Alberta Institute of Technology, Vancouver Island University, and the universities of Toronto and Lethbridge.

Basecamp Sprint applications are open until May 3, while Basecamp Voyage applications are open until May 10.

Feature image courtesy Unsplash.

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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