Start Up Nation

ICA launches StartUp & Up initiative with Interactive Ontario and DMZ at Ryerson University

Pilot program connects advertising agencies and local startups to propel business growth and success

Toronto - The Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA) is launching an initiative called StartUp & Up. The pilot program is geared to startups that meet a set of criteria and have been shortlisted to have the opportunity to present their concepts live to a panel of high profile advertising and marketing agencies’ representatives at the DMZ on March 31, 2016. Designed to create partnerships between emerging companies and Canada’s leading agencies, the joint initiative provides an opportunity for mentorship to propel business success and drive growth of fledgling companies. This underscores the mission of the ICA to champion commercial creativity and amplify the industry’s economic impact, and that of IO and the DMZ to foster the growth of the interactive digital content industry and innovative startups.

At the pitch event, each of the 12 shortlisted companies has three minutes to present an overview of their project to include their rationale and business description, marketing plans, and requirements from an agency such as branding, communications, social media, mobile, inbound marketing, and others. Following the startup pitches, judges have a three minute question period. Agencies participating to evaluate and provide counsel include Ogilvy, The Hive, DentsuBos, Mass Minority, The Mars Agency, Juniper Park\TBWA, Marshall Fenn, BBDO, Cundari, Sid Lee, Aperture1 and Innocean.

“At the DMZ, we have seen marketing strategies accelerate the success of startups,” said Abdullah Snobar, executive director, the DMZ. “The StartUp & Up program will provide entrepreneurs with the opportunity to build a solid foundation for successful marketing initiatives that will further develop their brand and advance Ontario’s startup ecosystem.”

Added Christa Dickenson, executive director of Interactive Ontario, “Our members are an incredibly talented group of interactive digital media creators and we are excited to see the growth that results from pairing them with leading agencies.”

The program is in partnership with Interactive Ontario (IO) -- a member-driven not-for-profit trade association committed to the growth of interactive digital content -- and the DMZ at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada’s top university business incubator open to tech startups worldwide.

From incubation to interactive innovation

The roster of shortlisted startups – all members of Interactive Ontario or Ryerson’s DMZ – cover a wide spectrum of business, from gaming, to virtual reality, online platforms and mobile apps. All parties will be surveyed after six months, to determine the impact of the program and identify future opportunities for agencies to partner with startups to successfully propel their business forward. “Agencies are adept at solving business problems and driving growth, and are therefore ideal partners for startups,” said Gillian Graham, CEO of the ICA. “This pilot program is designed to give entrepreneurial companies and startups access to agency partners to increase their business success, and thereby contribute to Canada’s economic future.”

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