York Region commits $1 million to support international, women entrepreneurs

Project JumpSTART aims to create a soft landing for tech entrepreneurs in the York Region.

The York Regional Council has committed $1.08 million over three years to support women and international entrepreneurs through a new program called JumpSTART.

Project JumpSTART is a joint program designed and managed by York University’s innovation hub, YSpace, the Schulich School of Business’s Office of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Treefrog Accelerator. 

The funding will be used to expand York University’s ELLA program and Treefrog’s accelerator program.

The program will give participants access to workshops and mentorship opportunities as well as the potential for specialized training through the Schulich Venture Academy. The new funding will be used to expand York University’s women-focused YSpace ELLA Program and Treefrog’s accelerator program, which is open to both international and local startups.

The municipal funding comes from the York Region Innovation Investment Fund, which earmarks funding for research institutes, centres of excellence, post-secondary training and research facilities, and tech-related infrastructure projects in the area.

“With just over 17 percent of Canadian businesses owned by women in the private sector, JumpSTART will bring much needed support for women entrepreneurs, help reduce the notable gender disparities in Canada’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and help to attract international entrepreneurs to choose York Region,” York University president and vice-chancellor Rhonda Lento said in a statement.

RELATED: York University partners with OneEleven to launch joint venture studio for new tech MBA degree

In addition to attracting investment in the region, the partners ultimately aim to promote diversity in entrepreneurship by focusing on international and female founders, and create a “soft landing” in the region for tech entrepreneurs.

Institutions in York Region have been looking to boost the local tech sector in recent years. In June 2023, York University’s Schulich School of Business partnered with Toronto innovation hub OneEleven to establish a joint venture studio to pair students with member companies to complete pro bono product and fundraising analysis.

That same month, the university launched the Schulich Venture Academy, which offers four certificate programs that focus on different leadership roles within the tech ecosystem, including finance, talent, operations, and venture capital. Directors for the program include Canadian tech sector leaders from companies like OMERS Ventures, Wealthsimple, and Panache Ventures.

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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