The Lazaridis ScaleUp Programme – based at Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University – brings together the most promising scaleup tech companies from across the country and connects them with a network of senior talent from successful firms and customised engagement.
Over the past four years it has selected cohorts of tech companies from across Canada including one made up entirely of companies with a female founder or co-founder. This approach was deliberately taken to help attract and support more women-led companies as the first three cohorts had been dominated by male founders.
This October, 13 have been chosen to participate in the latest free-of-charge six-month-long programme – the largest cohort yet. Due to the Covid crisis the cohort will meet virtually until restrictions are relaxed.
The programme has introduced new resources so cohort companies can continue to access world-class expertise through webinars, topic roundtables, breakouts and private discussion groups. Participants can also benefit from an inventory of digital assets. Its network of expert mentors, who Lazaridis says have always worked remotely, will be available to provide guidance and advice.
In normal times participants meet one weekend each month in a different city. Weekends are led by experts in critical areas such as recruitment, product development and global growth. Traditionally, the programme culminates in five days of meetings in Silicon Valley. Cohort companies also receive 12 months of access to support from sector and functional specialists.
Since the programme began in 2016, the 50 companies in the first five cohorts have raised a total of CA$600m in less than four years and created more than 2,088 jobs.
The Institute also puts a strong emphasis on nurturing a peer-to-peer network, linking successive cohorts to provide continual support and learning opportunities.