Fifth-annual Startup Community Awards celebrates Québec’s innovation ecosystem

SCA 2023
Real Ventures’ John Stokes, Ora Medical among the night’s winners.

Québec’s tech ecosystem has recognized 15 local startups, stakeholders, and leaders at the fifth iteration of the Startup Community Awards (SCA), hosted by MTL NewTech

This year, nominations for the awards were gathered from 1,670 individual voters, with 8,460 total votes being cast. A total of 475 nominees were then vetted by a panel of 13 judges representing various parts of the innovation ecosystem, resulting in 105 finalists.

“SCA was focused on Québec this year, and we genuinely believe that its success is due to its organizer being deeply ingrained in the fabric of its startup community.”

Simran Kanda

Winners were selected via community voting and the judging panel, with each having a 50 percent weight respectively in the overall selection. The winners were then crowned on stage at the M Telus on December 7.

Ora Medical, which won Rising Startup of the Year last year, took home the Pitch Prodigy of the Year award. The startup has developed a gait trainer that helps children through physical rehabilitation. 

For the Collaboration of the Year award, Le Consortium québécois des incubateurs High-Tech, a joint demo day co-hosted by The Accelerator for the Creation of Technological Businesses (ACET), Centech, CTS Santé, and ZU, shared the podium with FounderFuel, an accelerator run by the triumvirate of Inovia Capital, Panache Ventures, and Real Ventures. 

Real Ventures also added another trophy to its cabinet as managing partner John Stokes won Community Builder of the Decade. Speaking with BetaKit at the event, Stokes explained that this award served as feedback from the Québec community that his work  supporting the ecosystem has been well received. “You do what you think will help,” Stokes noted. “The only time you know whether your perspective has any relevance is when you get feedback.”

Startup Community Awards Cooperathon by eva blue 095 1
Real Ventures’ John Stokes won Community Builder of the Decade. (Photo courtesy of Eva Blue)

In a LinkedIn post following the event, Stokes claimed the award was “the happiest piece of feedback I [have] had in my life.”

MTL NewTech, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year,  began as a volunteer-driven platform aimed to help entrepreneurs exchange resources and best practices during the financial crisis.

According to MTL NewTech general manager Simran Kanda, the organization has evolved into a “major catalyst, propelling ambitious entrepreneurs and innovative corporations to accelerate and advance their joint efforts in innovation.”

Kanda also hinted at the event potentially expanding its scope going forward. “SCA was focused on Québec this year, and we genuinely believe that its success is due to its organizer being deeply ingrained in the fabric of its startup community,” Kanda said. 

“In 2024, we hope that we will keep evolving the categories to be ever more relevant to what is needed … in the ecosystem, and who knows, maybe do an SCA in Montréal and one in Toronto or Ottawa if the opportunity arises,” she added.

The uncertain future of Montréal tech hub Notman House only reinforces efforts to build community in Québec. Notman House, a heritage building that serves as an important meeting place for the Montréal startup scene, is at risk of shutting down amid unpaid mortgage fees

MTL NewTech co-founder Ilias Benjelloun alongside Trampoline AI’s Edouard Reinach and Gabriel Lespérance have put forward a request for testimonials in an effort to preserve the hub.

The 2023 SCA winners are:

IP Innovation Ally of the Year Jean-Nicolas Delage

Public Sector Ally of the Year – Geneviève Drolet

Community Builder of the Decade – John Stokes

Diversity Champion of the Year – Roxanne Leduc

International Champion of the Year – Stéphane Beaudry

Rising Star of the Year – Théo Corboliou

Investor Community Builder of the Year – Geneviève Tanguay

Mentor of the Year – Christian Beaubien, Frederic Bastien

Social Impact Champion of the Year – Incubateur Civique, Maison de L’innovation Sociale

Pitch Prodigy of the Year – Ora Medical

Venture Builder Program of the Year – Centech

Collaboration of the Year – FounderFuel, Conjoined Demo Day of ACET, Centech, CTS Santé, ZU

Feature image courtesy of Eva Blue.

Aaron Anandji

Aaron Anandji

Aaron is a self-proclaimed startup nerd based in Montréal. He tweets about VC & startups on X at @aaronanandji.

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