By Alain Tittley
Special collaboration

Montreal currently has some 1,300 startups on its territory. They constitute a real economic force in the making, which deserves to be supported by networking activities with established companies. Take a look at a win-win proposition.

In life as in business, ambition and experience go hand in hand. It is in this spirit that the Open innovation grant program de la Ville de Montréal was created, in partnership with the Government of Quebec, to promote collaboration between emerging businesses and partner organizations that have amply proven themselves. The goal? Stimulate the commercialization of innovations that respond to an issue of urban development or ecological transition, which promote the emergence of a greener economy and which contribute to improving the quality of life of Montrealers.

This pairing allows young start-ups to acquire a first client and to benefit from technical and financial support while accessing a wider business network. The well-established partner organization benefits from access to innovative solutions while developing its business agility.

The reflex startup
As Simon Décary, Economic Development Commissioner for the City of Montreal, points out, the initiative was launched in the fall of 2020 in the midst of a pandemic, a context that has proven to be favorable to innovation. “The Open innovation grant program aims to stimulate the emergence in Montreal of innovations that will have a positive impact on the lives of citizens, with a view to sustainable development. At the same time, we want to ensure that large companies develop a reflex startup by seeking solutions from small, very agile local businesses that can respond quickly and adequately to their needs. ”

This mutual aid approach, as we know, has proven its worth here and internationally, as it helps to give participating companies a competitive advantage. As proof, two examples of successful links that have given rise to tangible benefits for the twinned businesses as well as for the Montreal community.

Quebecois Basket x Montreal Public Markets
As part of his Open innovation grant program, the City of Montreal awarded a grant to the young startup Panier Québécois, which mainly offers online grocery services, to establish a link with the Jean-Talon market. The result? The emerging company has developed a commercial platform on which customers can order, pick up or have them delivered fresh from the market. An initiative that was very successful because it helped make local food even more accessible to Montrealers.

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“With COVID, we have wondered about the best way to reach consumers who do not want to come to the premises to make their purchases,” explains Nicolas Fabien-Ouellet, general manager of Montreal’s Public Markets. By working with Panier Québécois, we had access to a turnkey solution. ” In the process, the Jean-Talon market was also able to boost its image, support its producers, fight against food deserts by facilitating access to quality fresh products and actively participate in the ecological transition. “This network with Panier Québécois contributes to reducing our ecological footprint since many deliveries are made by cargo bike”, specifies the general manager.

The young growth, for its part, had access to a large concentration of potential suppliers, namely the market gardeners of the Jean-Talon market, while benefiting from operational support and having a space dedicated to the preparation of orders. and the management of deliveries. “Our goal is to offer Montrealers an alternative to sustainable consumption,” explains Thomas Lemoine, co-founder of the Panier Québécois. All our products are fresh daily and come from the next door, since we are fortunate to be located a hundred meters from our suppliers. For us, the link with the Jean-Talon market was really very positive, because it allowed us to benefit from the notoriety of the public market, its expertise on products and the contribution of Quebec producers. The City of Montreal has thus enabled us to truly invest in the marketing of our service. ”

Remember that this association enabled the young shoot to go from around forty weekly orders to 1,500 monthly orders. “PME MTL also provided us with a lot of help, which meant that we had the chance to be very well supported in this adventure,” concludes Thomas Lemoine.

Locketgo x Decathlon
The health crisis has pushed the business community to embark on a great process of reinvention. The same was true for Locketgo, a startup innovative, agile and proactive which offers solutions and infrastructures to ensure the optimal collection of parcels in urban areas. “Before the pandemic, we were 100% in the field of festivals, events and shows, explains the founder, Gabrielle Larue. When the crisis hit, we took the opportunity to pivot in order to develop new markets. Networking with a large company like Décathlon gave us a real kick-off. ”

Locketgo electronic lockers are designed to automate the receipt or return of packages. They are mainly installed in common areas of residential or commercial buildings, where the sustained growth of delivery in times of pandemic has posed many challenges. By combining a cloud computing platform with a network of smart lockers, the start-up has developed a process for delivering or returning goods to multiple customers, using secure and easily accessible equipment. A breakthrough made possible by a subsidy granted by the City of Montreal as part of the Open innovation grant program, which supported a networking project with sporting goods retailer Décathlon.

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“As was the case for many companies during containment, online commerce has exploded with us,” explains Pierre Kempa, Commercial Director of Decathlon Canada. We had to find solutions to satisfy customers and to deliver our goods even faster. Networking with Locketgo allows us to offer new delivery or return options for online orders that are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. “

For Locketgo, the benefits are multiple: let us mention, among other things, the development of an easy-to-use solution for all parties involved, whether they are companies or users, the reduction of GHG production linked to last mile delivery and the development of a unique business model. The result: positioning as a leader in the retail industry. “Locketgo aims to become the largest smart locker company in North America,” says Gabrielle Larue. We want to build the largest network of connected boxes in urban areas, and we are starting with the Montreal area with Décathlon. It’s a perfect mesh. ”

An open and accessible initiative
The Open Innovation Grant Program de la Ville de Montréal is a simple and effective solution that allows large companies to outsource innovation and remain agile through partnerships that benefit both parties. In short, despite the crisis, this initiative allows us to witness tremendous cross-fertilization of skills that give rise to great business successes. And everyone seems to enjoy it, especially young shoots who think big!

To learn more about the Open innovation grant program of the City of Montreal, click here.
The City of Montreal’s Economic Development Department assists and supports Montreal businesses in their business projects. It works with ecosystem partners to accelerate the city’s economy through an approach of sustainability, innovation and inclusiveness.

This content was produced by Le Devoir’s special publications team in collaboration with the advertiser. Le Devoir’s editorial team played no role in the production of this content.

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