Startup Montréal touts international vision with rebrand to Québec Tech

Quebec Tech
Québec Tech has received $7 million CAD from the Québec government to help startups scale internationally.

One of the most recognizable hubs in Montréal’s startup ecosystem is rebranding. 

Startup Montréal, the non-profit organization that has supported early-stage Montréal startups since 2019, will now be known as Québec Tech. The rebranded organization has also adopted a new mandate to grow the international footprint of Québec tech companies with high export potential.

“We do great stuff, but we need to be more well-organized and align a few things together to be sure that our entrepreneurs are well-supported by the system.”

The transition to Québec Tech is supported by $7 million CAD in funding over three years from Québec’s Ministry of Economic Development, Innovation and Export Trade (MEIE) through the Stratégie québécoise de recherche et d’investissement en innovation (SQRI2) program. The federal government and the City of Montreal already provide some financial support.

Richard Chénier, general manager of Québec Tech, will unveil the rebrand today, day one of Startupfest in Montréal’s Old Port. 

The innovation hub said its shift in focus is “for Québec to benefit from high productivity and remain competitive against other international ecosystems.” The government funding will also assist Québec Tech’s operations in Ax-C, a new startup innovation space in the centre of Montréal’s business district, in the Place Victoria tower.

Québec Tech’s support services will debut this fall, with a three-pronged approach focusing on international launch strategies, promotion and visibility, and building connections. 

Richard Chénier
Richard Chénier, general manager of Québec Tech, will unveil the rebrand today, day one of Startupfest in Montréal’s Old Port.

“This support will create fast, efficient access to tools for high-potential startups, and develop initiatives to accelerate the commercialization of innovations created by these companies, so that they can export more quickly,” a spokesperson for MEIE wrote in a statement to BetaKit. 

Some initiatives previously run by Startup Montréal will continue operating, albeit “in a different form,” Chénier said in an interview with BetaKit. The Revelations competition, for example, typically awards 20 startups a $20,000 grant, but it’s unclear if this will change. Mouvement des accélérateurs d’innovation du Québec will take over the group’s weekly email and LinkedIn newsletters.

“The reason why we made this shift is we have to improve the way that we work here in Québec with our startups,” Chénier said. “We do great stuff, but we need to be more well-organized and align a few things together to be sure that our entrepreneurs are well-supported by the system.”

The news comes at an uncertain time for the Québec startup scene, following the sale of Montréal startup hub Notman House and the impending closure of Québec Numerique, an event-focused, Québec City-based digital hub. 

RELATED: Community-led bid to buy back Notman House unsuccessful

Chénier was appointed as the Startup Montréal general manager last September. He told BetaKit that this transition has been in the works since before his appointment. The team interviewed roughly 90 Québec entrepreneurs over the past year to understand the challenges present for Québec-based startups in the early-to-late growth stages.

Simon De Baene, co-founder and CEO of Workleap, was consulted during this process. “It’s simple: we need a much stronger tech ecosystem in Québec, where building companies like Workleap is not an exception but the norm,” he wrote in an email to BetaKit. “I am very proud to be involved with Québec Tech. Their unwavering dedication to helping great companies from here reach the global stage is truly inspiring.”

Chénier outlined a persistent problem for new companies in Québec: going global at the right time. Québec Tech seeks to remedy this by ensuring that startups have the resources and connections to scale at the “sweet spot.” 

“If you are not at the right place at the right time, you will miss the train,” he said, adding that Québec has plenty of support for early-stage startups, but less so for scale-ups. 

“What we are observing is, if they want to start to grow, and the companies are at that level, the best programs that they can have access to are in Ontario,” Chénier said, referencing Communitech and Invest Ottawa. 

Dropping “Montréal” from the organization’s name indicates a push to broaden the scope of its activities in the province, Chenier explained. He expects Québec Tech support activities to take place in Québec’s three main business hubs—Montréal, Québec City, and Sherbrooke—but said that any tech startup anywhere in Québec could use their services. 

On the branding side, in a nod to the close relationship between Québecois and French entrepreneurs, Chénier says his team was inspired by France’s tech ecosystem support organization, French Tech.  

In countries with a more mature tech startup scene, such as France or Sweden, startups get more easily connected to local corporations, which in turn help put fledgling companies on the map globally, Chénier said. He sees Québec Tech using a similar approach to boost Canadian productivity. “If we connect our best startups to our established companies, we will help to move the needle.”

During the announcement, Québec Tech outlined three target categories of startups who will benefit from their services: V0, for early-stage startups supported by an incubator or accelerator; V, for startups ready to go global; and V MAX, for young scaleups ready for an accelerated international growth phase. Only partnerships in the V category will begin this fall, with V0 and V MAX rolling out in 2025.

Chénier told BetaKit that Québec Tech aims to work with 10 to 15 startups in the V category, with the goal of producing five to six successful exports.

“We will be selective. We know that not all companies will succeed,” he said. “The goal is to propel these companies to $10M by helping them go global.”

This story has been updated with additional comments from Richard Chénier.

Madison McLauchlan

Madison McLauchlan

Madison McLauchlan is a freelance journalist based in Montréal, where she writes for magazines, websites, and elevator screens.

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