Next Canada, a not-for-profit organization that provides support programs to Canadian entrepreneurs, has unveiled the 80 startups participating in the latest cohorts of its three accelerators: Next AI, Next 36, and Next Founders.
The full list of all 80 startups can be found here.
As its name suggests, Next AI focuses on entrepreneurs of artificial intelligence startups.
Next Canada launched Next AI in 2016 as a six month founder and venture development acceleration network. It provides support on both AI product development and market commercialization. Next AI ventures can also receive up to $100,000 towards the end of the program on a SAFE agreement from an external fund.
The startups taking part in Next AI this year are using AI as their core technology to develop solutions for a variety of industries, including life sciences, enterprise software, digital media, financial services, manufacturing, and e-commerce.
Among the participating startups for this year’s cohort of Next AI is Blue Guardian, which uses AI to detect early signs of mental health issues in youth. Blue Guardian recently secured $22,500 in prize money at The DMZ’s Black Innovation Summit in April.
Other startups include Yuko AI, which is designed to assist health workers in skin disease management. Yuko AI won the Next AI Top Startup Award at Startupfest 2022.
Next AI runs from March until August and is delivered in two phases. In the first couple of months, Next AI focuses on founder development where each participant’s performance is assessed in order to move forward with phase two, which is more focused on product growth, market validation, and capital acquisition.
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Next AI is traditionally delivered in person in Toronto and Montreal. This year, the program will be held under a hybrid approach in Toronto with a focus on in-person participation. Startups in Montréal who are “far enough” in their stage of development may be invited to participate remotely, only coming to the Next AI Montréal site for specific events.
This year, Next Canada revealed that Next 36, its entrepreneurship development program for students and recent graduates, had an intake of 43 founders leading 22 ventures.
Like Next AI, the program consists of two phases. After its remote period from mid-January to the end of April, Next 36 is now entering its in-person component from May through September. This allows entrepreneurs to complete their academic year during the winter and spring, followed by a full-time intensive commitment through the summer.
Next 36 does not provide direct funding. Instead, it provides founders with access to a network of investors and an opportunity to pitch to them.
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The solutions offered by startups participating in Next 36 this year span across different industries, including proptech, sustainable fashion, tourism, and agriculture.
Wicked Rose, for example, is creating activewear for women in martial arts, designed to heighten performance and increase comfort while training. Another is The Kind Company, which is developing a platform that aims to increase donations for charities through everyday consumer purchases.
Next Canada’s program for growth-stage founders, Next Founders, has 14 ventures this year.
Next Founders annually takes in up to 20 founders with “high-growth ventures” to provide them with entrepreneurial education and access to investors, with the opportunity to pitch to them.
The lineup of startups in Next Founders 2023 includes Sleepout, which offers portable blackout curtains. Canadian mattress retailer Sleep Country purchased a 25 percent stake in Sleepout in 2021, which was valued at $500,000 CAD at that time.
This year’s cohort also has Handld, an on-demand handyman platform; as well as Blair & Jack, a skincare line for men created by plastic surgeon Bimpe Ayeni.
Featured image courtesy Next Canada.
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