Applications are open for the Creative Destruction Lab’s 2017-18 cohort, including the new CDL-Atlantic node in Halifax.
The CDL, which was launched at the University of Toronto five years ago, recently announced that it was expanding across the country. It is now offering three simultaneous programs in Toronto, and offering two programs in Montreal and one each in Vancouver, Calgary and Halifax.
The CDL offers separate programs in the sphere of artificial intelligence and data science in Central Canada, and the Halifax program will have special strengths in oceans and clean technology.
There will be 25 spots available in Halifax, which will be held in collaboration with Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business. Volta Labs CEO Jesse Rodgers, who will oversee the program, said the cohort will include companies from a range of sectors.
“CDL tends to do best when you have a mash up of companies – founders across verticals are peers, at an early stage they share a lot of the same challenges,” he said in an email. “We will lean toward oceans and environment/cleantech but we won't turn away companies that don't know where they fit as long as [we] can help them.”
The nine-month CDL program is not for the faint of heart as many participating companies are asked to leave before completing it. The CDL starts each cohort with a few dozen teams, who attend a one- or two-day mentoring session to receive a set of milestones from mentors. They’re then sent away to work on these tasks. When the cohort convenes again about two months later, teams who missed their milestones are asked to leave. CDL repeats the process several times, so each cohort ends up with a core of graduates.
Rodgers, who was the founding director of the CDL program in Toronto, came to Halifax last year to oversee Volta Labs. Now he will also head a group of CDL mentors that will include Clearwater Fine Foods Founder John Risley and serial entrepreneur Jevon MacDonald, as well as mentors in Toronto, Boston and New York.
In an article on Medium, Rodgers outlined his belief that CDL’s expansion can help to enhance the entire ecosystem in the region and be more than just a shot in the arm for individual companies.
“By bringing a program with a national profile (and a proven track record of high standards) to the Halifax ecosystem, I believe it will greatly accelerate the growth in opportunities for founders based in Atlantic Canada,” he wrote.