Elevate, The Firehood reveal first cohort of 37 startups in new incubator for women entrepreneurs

First cohort of The Firehood and Elevates women-focused incubator
Some participants already backed by The Firehood, such as Ora, Permalution, PragmaClin.

The Firehood, an angel network that focuses on supporting women in the technology sector, and Toronto-based nonprofit Elevate have unveiled the 37 startups participating in the first cohort of its joint incubator for women entrepreneurs, the Women+ Entrepreneur Incubator.

The roster of participants includes companies that have previously received funding from The Firehood, including Ora Medical, Permalution, and PragmaClin.

Participants will pitch at Elevate Festival this year for a chance to win $100,000.

Montréal-based Ora, which is developing a smart gait trainer to support people with disabilities, raised $300,000 at Startupfest this year. That included $100,000 from winning The Firehood’s Women in Tech prize, as well as the Business Development Bank of Canada and the audience matching the prize, which are worth $100,000 each.

Permalution won the $100,000 investment prize for The Firehood’s Women in Tech award at Startupfest last year. PragmaClin won $20,000 from The Firehood at The DMZ’s 2023 Women Founders Summit.

According to Elevate, the eight-week program is designed to increase Canadian women entrepreneurs’ access to venture capital funding. It will offer a variety of workshops, one-on-one mentorship, advisory services, and connections with investors.

Participants will also get the chance to pitch at the Elevate’s tech conference this year, taking place from Sept. 26 to 28, for the opportunity to win up to $100,000 in cash from The Firehood’s angel investors.

The Women+ Entrepreneur Incubator is part of a broader partnership with the federal government’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, specific to its Inclusive Women Venture Capital Initiative.

As part of that deal, Elevate and The Firehood secured $2.3 million from the Government of Canada in June to launch two eight-week workshops with a focus on entrepreneurship, as well as a separate program for investing called the Women+ Investor Incubator.

Women entrepreneurs and investors both face disproportionate barriers to accessing the necessary resources for the growth of their careers, businesses, as well as overall wealth and prosperity.

While women entrepreneurs represent 40 percent of all business owners, they receive under three percent of venture capital funding, according to the federal government’s release about the projects.

RELATED: Elevate and The Firehood receive $2.3 million in federal funding to train women leaders

Programs such as those offered by Elevate and The Firehood aim to address that gap.

“We’re looking for early-stage women and gender-diverse entrepreneurs who are building tech solutions that have the potential to scale globally,” said Danielle Graham, co-founder of The Firehood.

Elevate CEO Lisa Zarzezny said the first cohort of the Women+ Entrepreneur Incubator saw nearly 300 applications from businesses across Canada. “It’s incredible to see the range of impact-driven businesses from industries including cleantech, cybersecurity, life science and advanced health, and more.”

UPDATE (08/23/2023): The story has been updated to reflect the recent addition of Toronto-based Indigenous apparel retailer Aaniin retail inc., founded by Chelsee-Marie Pettit.

Featured image courtesy Elevate.

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a staff writer for BetaKit.

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