Montreal accelerator for cultural and creative entrepreneurs La Piscine was granted a vote of confidence from the Quebec government last week.
Minister of Economy, Science and Innovation Dominique Anglade announced the investment of $640,000 for three of its programs. The funds are part of Startup Québec, a program unveiled in Quebec’s latest Action plan for digital economy, and come in support of La Piscine’s efforts in boosting the growth of businesses in the cultural and creative industries.
Among the funded initiatives is the creation of a Startup Studio for innovative tech startups. The studio will mobilize and support key creative entrepreneurs and businesses around highly promising projects, helping them grow into full-fledged businesses.
La Piscine’s leadership knows no borders, as evidenced by the second initiative, an international program for exchanges and experiences in Paris called Plouf@Paris. This pilot project, also supported by the Quebec government, brings in three accelerators from Paris and targets high-growth cultural and creative businesses from Montreal and Paris to test their businesses in each other’s market.
The third initiative funded by Quebec is a new partnership with YMCAs across the province. The experiential education project called SPEEDO aims to give teenagers between 15 and 18 initial experience with entrepreneurship through creative projects.
“We want to boost the growth of creative and cultural businesses because they are part of Montreal’s DNA, said David Santelli, chairman of La Piscine’s Board of Directors. More specifically, we want to be a vector of acceleration for Quebec’s economy, and this is something you will notice in the Startup Studio as well as in the other distinct programs and services offered by La Piscine”.
Since its creation in 2015, a total of six business incubation and acceleration programs were successfully launched by the organisation. Quebec’s investment will thus strengthen La Piscine’s mission of fostering the first community dedicated to entrepreneurship from the cultural and creative sectors in Montreal and in the province.
“I am proud to announce this investment that will help the development of various sectors such as youth, art, design, culture in its broader sense, architecture or history. Montreal’s creative nature embraces much more than one single theme, and this is what we celebrate here,” Minister Anglade cheerfully pointed out. La Piscine’s broad vision of creativity can be seen in its interest in business models associated with interactive experiences, the object, or the integration of digital technologies.
Photo credit : Susan Moss
Minister Anglade stressed the non-profit’s innovative approach, which was described by Co-Executive Director of Programs and Innovation at La Piscine, Christophe Billebaud, as excubation: “We invite entrepreneurs to excubate themselves out of their business so they can take the time to think, discuss and imagine. What they get with La Piscine is a much quieter place to move forward, supported by seasoned experts we put them in contact with. The idea is to take them out of business as usual so they can see different ways things can be done to accelerate the growth of their businesses.”
With such an approach, finding an appropriate hub was no small challenge for La Piscine. When they found Le Rodier, a building entrenched in the metropolis’ historic and architectural heritage, the team knew they had found their meeting ground for the entrepreneurs, investors, and other stakeholders willing to optimize Quebec’s cultural and creative businesses.
The announcement provided the special guests at the press conference a sneak peak within the iconic Notre-Dame street west building. Currently under construction, under the aegis of La Piscine and real estate firm Gestion Georges Coulombe, the 143-year-old building will become the first site dedicated to cultural and creative entrepreneurship in Montreal when it re-opens later in 2018. “It is impossible to imagine a collective future in Quebec where there would be no innovation, either economic or social. This is what we have in mind when we support startups”, concluded Ms. Anglade while proudly wearing her La Piscine-themed hard hat.