The regional tech accelerator Propel ICT has decided not to hold its customary Launch and Build cohorts this spring as it prepares to launch a new program later in the year.
Propel issued a statement Monday announcing that a new program is on the way and will begin in September. It gave few details of what the new program will look like, other than to say it will be focused on the founders of early-stage ICT startups regardless of where they are based in Atlantic Canada. It will also aim to extend the organization’s relationship with the entrepreneur beyond a 12-week program.
Founded 15 years ago in Saint John, Propel ICT has grown to become the primary group for mentoring ICT startups across the region. Last autumn, it hired Barry Bisson, former head of the Shad organization, as its CEO. He and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Trevor MacAusland consulted with more than 100 stakeholders across the region in determining what direction the organization should take.
“Atlantic Canada’s founders and startups are everywhere,” said Bisson in the statement. “We must learn to work with our broad geography and dispersed population, and find new ways to support talent development. We have an Atlantic mindset and truly believe we are one region, and one population.”
Though Propel’s statement gave no details of the new program, there were two themes that emerged in the material released Monday: first, Propel will aim to support entrepreneurs across the whole region; and second, it wants to maintain longer relationships with entrepreneurs, rather than just putting them through a 12-week program and sending them off.
In recent years, Propel has delivered a two-track program across the region. Its Launch program helped companies still developing their product work on the product-market fit. Each cohort had programs in Halifax and Fredericton, and rotated between Charlottetown, St. John’s and Sydney. The Build program was held in Moncton and aided companies with traction to scale.
One challenge that has plagued Propel is geographic distance. We think of Atlantic Canada as a small place, but even if you exclude Labrador the region is an area about the size of France and Germany combined. Flights are expensive and transfers can be inconvenient. And Propel’s people – staff and entrepreneurs – often have to make trips in ugly weather conditions.
The organization said it will open applications for the new program later in the year.
"This is going to be great for founders in Atlantic Canada,” Nicole LeBlanc, a BDC Capital executive and Propel director, said in a blog on the Propel website. “I love seeing something that really connects the startup community across the four provinces."
Disclosure: Propel ICT is a client of Entrevestor.