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Championing a future for women-led innovation to thrive

Get to know the influential minds behind DMZ’s Women Innovation Summit Steering Committee 

In honour of International Women’s Day, DMZ’s annual Women Innovation Summit is designed to empower and celebrate women in entrepreneurship and innovation. 

An action-packed event, the Summit will include roundtable discussions, our Women Innovation Pitch Competition for women-led startups to secure funding and the unveiling of DMZ’s Women of the Year award recipients. 

We know it takes a village to support women innovators. To bring this Summit to life, we brought together an influential group of leaders, executives and corporate partners to form our Steering Committee. Their role? Ensure a wide range of perspectives, experiences and ideas are considered to reduce bias, support an equitable review process and -— above all else — ensure the Summit reflects the diversity of women that fuels Canada’s innovation economy.

We wanted to give an insider’s look at the individuals behind the Committee to recognize them for the trailblazers that they are. 

Without further ado, please meet DMZ’s Women Innovation Summit Steering Committee: 

Janet Lin | Vice President, Lending and Payments Technology at Equitable Bank

A technology strategist with a passion for innovation, digital transformation, diversity and inclusion, Janet Lin is committed to creating human-centric experiences by leveraging technology. She brings over 20 years of experience in digital transformation, technology strategy, software development, customer engagement and AI transformation. She currently works at Equitable Bank, transforming retail and commercial lending businesses with customer-centric, agile decision-making principles enabled by cloud-native technology. 

Janet was inspired to join the Committee to promote, recognize and create innovation opportunities for women in Canada. 

Her advice for women entrepreneurs looking to break into tech and innovation?

“Dear women entrepreneurs in technology and innovation, equip yourself with thorough preparation. The path ahead may present challenges, resilience is your friend on this journey. Stay determined, and focused and don’t give up your dreams!”

Magnolia Perron | Indigenous Women and Youth Program Manager at the
National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association 

An advocate for entrepreneurship and economic development for Indigenous communities, Magnolia Perron has worked with various Indigenous non-profits, including the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and the First Nations Information Governance Centre, where she has led advocacy, research and program development. Today, she oversees programs dedicated to Indigenous women and youth at the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association. Magnolia is from Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory and is a proud member of the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.

Magnolia was inspired to join the Committee because of her deep-rooted commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion. She believes that diverse perspectives lead to better innovation and is keen to contribute to an initiative where women can thrive, network and find support for their endeavours. 

How does she envision the Summit shaping the future landscape for women in tech and innovation? 

“The Summit has the potential to break down barriers, promote equality, and ultimately contribute to a future where women play an integral role in shaping the landscape of technology and innovation. It’s a catalyst, and by showcasing successful women leaders and entrepreneurs, we can inspire the next generation to pursue careers in the industry.”

Peter Bowie | Independent Director, Former CEO of Deloitte China and
DMZ Advisory Council Member

Peter Bowie is an Independent Director of Magna International and a DMZ Advisory Council member. He is a celebrated industry leader with a diverse background in corporate governance, leadership, and advisory roles. He has held prominent positions in organizations such as Uranium One, Deloitte Canada, and Deloitte China, where he served as CEO and Senior Partner. With a focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, Peter is also an investor and advisor in early-stage startup companies. 

Peter was inspired to join the Committee because he’s passionate about encouraging and supporting women entrepreneurs in their journey to success. He believes initiatives like the Summit will enhance opportunities for women in the tech ecosystem. 

How does he envision the Summit shaping the future landscape for women in tech and innovation?  

“I hope that the Women Innovation Summit, along with other DMZ initiatives dedicated to women entrepreneurs, fosters a culture where women feel empowered to pursue their dreams and where the broader community recognizes the importance of supporting their endeavours in the tech ecosystem.”

Megan Munro | Digital Commerce Strategic Initiatives Lead at

A high-velocity strategic decision-maker who brings 20+ years of experience in digital initiatives, Megan Munro is a dynamic leader who has managed winning teams in fashion, telecoms, sports and entertainment, airlines and banking. Today, she oversees digital commerce strategic initiatives at Scotiabank, where she champions a collaborative and data-driven approach to deliver inspired solutions. 

Megan was inspired to join the Committee because she’s passionate about supporting initiatives that promote, encourage and enable equity in innovation. She believes the Summit embodies this passion and is committed to recognizing standout, inspirational women driving innovation and change.

Her advice for women entrepreneurs looking to break into tech and innovation?

“Go for it. Have confidence in your skill set (there is no one like you!), stay curious with a lifelong learning mindset, advocate for yourself and assemble your hype squad with a trusted mentor and people who will cheer you on.”

Jennifer Chiang | Business Development: Canada Lead for Accelerators, Incubators & Seed VCs at
Amazon Web Services

A serial founder, a former soldier in the Canadian Army Reserves and an active mentor and advisor, Jennifer Chiang is a pioneer in influencer marketing, founding a technology that powers the top Fortune 500 brands and reaches over 98M consumers worldwide. She currently works at AWS Startups and continues to share her legacy and mentorship with early-stage founders and partners. 

Jennifer was inspired to join the Committee because she’s committed to giving back to the community, a value her mentor Bonnie Foley Wong instilled in her. 

Her advice for women entrepreneurs looking to break into tech and innovation?

“Strive to always be on the edge of the miraculous.”

Moshe Mikanovsky | Product Director at RootQuotient

Moshe Mikanovsky, a product management leader with a background in engineering, applies a lean, iterative approach to developing products that exceed users’ expectations. At RootQuotient, he supports companies of all sizes, from startups to corporates, build digital products. An entrepreneur at heart, Moshe founded Products for Good, a social initiative for aspiring product managers to learn the craft while building products to help humanity. 

A proud father of three daughters, Moshe is an advocate for women’s empowerment and women in tech. His personal experiences as a father have fueled his dedication to supporting his daughters in finding their career paths. This led him to join the Committee to ensure the ecosystem nurtures and promotes women’s advancement in technology and beyond. 

How does he envision the Summit shaping the future landscape for women in tech and innovation? 

“One of the most important things we can do as an ecosystem is profile success stories to inspire other women and young girls. Having a national spotlight and funding up for grabs for women-led startups can support women founders tremendously, but above all else, being connected to a community like DMZ’s can work wonders.”

Mark your calendars. DMZ’s Women Innovation Summit takes place on March 7, 2024. Head to to learn more about the Summit and how to get involved. 


Second chance hiring: A win-win strategy for startups and talent

Startups, here’s how you can fill talent gaps and foster inclusivity in the workplace with Spotwork

In the startup ecosystem, we can all unanimously nod our heads to one truth: there’s just not enough talent to go around. 

Finding talent is fundamental to startup growth, yet many startups are missing out on qualified talent without realizing it. A staffing marketplace and workforce management solution, DMZ Innisfil startup Spotwork connects companies to reliable and qualified talent. By helping startups think outside the box, Spotwork can help your company champion diversity and inclusion while filling crucial talent gaps.  

Due to workplace bias, individuals who are justice-involved have historically been an underserved talent pool. However, criminal records can often result from petty offences and are not always an accurate reflection of a candidate’s ability to deliver. This can include traffic violations, disorderly conduct and narcotics — all non-violent crimes that were done without the intention to harm a person or property. 

Today, many Canadian companies remain unwilling to hire people with a record, even if they have the skills and qualifications for the position. The result? We’re overlooking roughly four million Canadians who have a record.

We sat down with the Co-Founders of Spotwork, Darren Perlman and Daniel Copeland, to learn more about how they provide second chances, how startups can tap into overlooked talent pools and the benefits of seeking out these candidates. Here’s what they had to say:

Let’s address the stigma around hiring people who are justice-involved. What biases and misconceptions exist, and why are they harmful to companies and talent?

“The prejudices that arise from hiring justice-involved individuals typically stem from misconceptions linking their past actions to current behaviour. This is harmful to not only the company but the applicant as well, as it undermines their potential for rehabilitation and growth. 

By embracing better hiring practices that are more inclusive to a diverse audience, companies can unlock a hidden pool of skilled individuals seeking a second chance.” 

Tell me about the moment that made you realize the need for Spotwork. What inspired you to create a platform?

“We noticed how our previous employers faced significant difficulties recruiting and managing a large workforce. Additionally, we saw a lack of support for marginalized Canadians to find meaningful work opportunities. This led us to create a solution that provides employers with a labour pool that fills in-demand frontline jobs.” 

How does Spotwork differentiate itself from traditional hiring solutions, and what inspired you to focus on connecting businesses with talent who have a history with the law?

“Unlike traditional staffing methods, which are usually biased, expensive and time-consuming, Spotwork is a cost-effective solution with cutting-edge technology and a streamlined hiring process. Our platform facilitates seamless matchmaking between skilled individuals and businesses. 

We offer a wide range of employment options, understanding the importance of flexibility in building a tailored workforce. Unlike agencies specializing in specific roles, our platform accommodates workers from diverse industries, career stages and skill levels to ensure a strong fit for the talent and business.”

For startups that may be on the fence about giving individuals a second chance, what would you say to them?

“These individuals bring unique perspectives, resilience and a strong desire for redemption to the workplace. Providing such employment opportunities fosters inclusivity, demonstrates corporate responsibility, supports rehabilitation and, above all else, creates a positive societal impact.”

Startups should consider expanding their horizons by hiring justice-involved individuals — it offers a chance for talent diversification, social impact and breaking the cycle of reoffending.” 

What steps are taken to ensure a fair and inclusive hiring process on Spotwork? And how can a startup use Spotwork to start the hiring process?

“Our platform has been designed with fairness and impartiality in mind. It utilizes algorithms that select the best candidates for job opportunities without bias. 

When using Spotwork as a startup, the hiring process is simple. All you need to do is create a company profile, and in just a few easy steps, you can post various job openings and view a vast pool of potential candidates to join you in your success.”

What’s the broader impact Spotwork envisions when fostering diversity and inclusion within the workforce? How do you see this benefiting startups and talent in the long run?

“Spotwork has a vision of creating a world where everyone has an equal opportunity in the workforce, regardless of race, age, gender identity or background. By promoting diverse and inclusive workplace environments, startups and talent benefit as it expands talent pools, guarantees equal opportunities, and demonstrates a commitment to inclusivity, ultimately attracting top talent.”

Any success stories you’d like to point to?

“2nd Time Around Tires operates one of the largest winter tire operations in Etobicoke and has successfully employed six workers through Spotwork’s Second Chances Program. 

Despite initial skepticism, hiring manager Rob Altbaum praised Spotwork for the effectiveness of its program and the quality of its workers, who showed genuine enthusiasm and commitment to their roles. He noted, ‘The workers who were coming out wanted to be there. This was more than just a job for them — it was an opportunity to establish a career.’”

Ready to transform your startup’s workforce and champion inclusivity? Click here to explore Spotwork today and connect with their diverse community of dedicated and talented workers.


If you’re inspired to follow in Spotwork’s footsteps, check out how DMZ can support your business to the next level. Incubator applications for the March 2024 cohort are now open. Apply here

Paving a new era for startup legal support: DMZ’s IP Clinic unveiled

Coming from a tech startup incubator, we get it — the entrepreneurial journey is a rollercoaster ride, and legal potholes can be deal-breakers. That’s why DMZ’s Startup Legal Support (SLS) team and Toronto Metropolitan University’s Lincoln Alexander School of Law have worked together to launch a new Intellectual Property (IP) Clinic, a game-changer in the dynamic world of startup legal support.

As a company grows, so do the legal challenges.

Despite the fact that 70% of businesses earn enough revenue to surpass eligibility for free legal aid, most still grapple with affording the substantial costs of hiring a lawyer. DMZ emerges as a pivotal solution for these startups, acting as their legal compass. In doing so, DMZ not only helps startups maintain their competitiveness but also contributes to making legal services more accessible.

Through the generous support of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), Lincoln Alexander School of Law and DMZ have collaborated to introduce the IP Clinic, a new initiative aimed at providing startups supported by Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) with comprehensive legal services. Nicholas Hill, Head of Startup Legal Support and Legal Advisor, spearheads these services with the support of three TMU law students, Ikra Saeed, Isabella Spiliakos and Shany Raitsin, who work under his supervision.

Intellectual Property isn’t a luxury, but a strategic necessity for startups.

As a strong proponent of the DMZ’s IP Clinic, Dr. Sari Graben, Associate Dean Research and Graduate Studies, notes that the Clinic plays a vital role in advancing the competitiveness of Canada’s startup ecosystem. “Our grant and innovative idea to launch IP legal services for startups aligns seamlessly with Lincoln Alexander Law’s vision to enable lawyers to tackle novel challenges in an increasingly innovation-based economy.”

The IP Clinic will enhance the accessibility of legal resources and knowledge to over 500 entrepreneurs within Toronto Metropolitan University’s Zone Learning Network. To date, the Clinic has been instrumental in servicing over 70+ startups, producing over 200 deliverables. “This IP Clinic marks a crucial step forward in our mission to empower startups with the legal knowledge they need to thrive,” says Nicholas Hill. “We’re excited about the positive impact this will have on our entrepreneurial community.”

As DMZ’s SLS opens up this new avenue of legal support, we have seen just how coveted IP services really are. Moreover, the IP Clinic’s value doesn’t just stop at startups.

We’re exposing law students to real-life case studies.

Beyond providing startups with essential legal assistance, we’re helping students navigate the legal ins and outs of the startup world. These students don’t stand on the sidelines, they’re gaining first-hand exposure to complex legal documentation and practical experience from Intellectual Property assignments to brand protection.

To sum it up, introducing IP legal services like those provided by DMZ sparks groundbreaking transformation, propelling the overall growth and success of these innovative ventures, and elevating their competitiveness to compete on the world stage. The collaboration of legal experts, aspiring law professionals and startups creates a recipe for entrepreneurial success in Canada’s startup ecosystem.

To learn more about DMZ’s legal support for startups, visit

Unlocking success: 4 tips from Black women tech leaders

Insightful lessons on financial planning, personal empowerment, purpose-driven leadership and a hustler mindset.

In collaboration with
Black Women Talk Tech, DMZ held an evening designed to highlight the success of Black women in tech by bringing together the ecosystem to spark conversations on how to empower founders best. 

Black Women Talk Tech provides Black women with a platform to voice ideas and access support. Today, it’s become the largest gathering of Black women tech entrepreneurs, inspiring countless others to follow in their footsteps and make their mark in the tech industry. DMZ was thrilled to partner with them for their debut event in Canada.

Here’s a breakdown of the event’s key takeaways for Black women in tech navigating the ecosystem:

  • Plan for financial readiness
  • Harness your personal experiences
  • Identify your north star and go for it
  • Develop a hustler mindset

Our esteemed panel featured a lineup of accomplished individuals:

Here’s what they had to say.

Plan for financial readiness

When it comes to entrepreneurship, financial readiness is everything. Giselle Melo, Founder and General Partner of
MATR Ventures, encourages entrepreneurs to get a head start on financial planning. From understanding your runway to knowing when the optimal time is to seek funding, meticulous planning and financial readiness enabled Melo to launch MATR Ventures in 2021.

By following her lead and having a strong grasp of your finances and where you head as an entrepreneur, you’ll be positioned to turn your dreams into a reality when the timing is right.

Harness your personal experiences

Having established her name in the pharmaceutical industry, Brenda Ahenkorah, the Founder and CEO of
My Well Self, was disappointed to see the lack of support and resources available during her own personal health challenges. After conducting extensive research herself, Brenda realized that she needed to take matters into her own hands and launched My Well Self.

Brenda’s success with My Well Self is a testament to leveraging our personal stories as sources of innovation and motivation to fuel our entrepreneurial pursuits.

Identify your north star and go for it

As the Executive Director and Venture Partner of
League of Innovators and Venture Partner of Capital M Ventures, Melissa Allen’s lesson stems from her own experience that led her to transition from the corporate world to entrepreneurship. As a financial advisor, she noticed that her clients — who were women of colour — faced steeper financial challenges than their counterparts. Recognizing that those who thrived often had side hustles, Melissa saw an opportunity for impact, which motivated her to step into entrepreneurship.

For Allen, her driving force comes from a desire to influence positive change and ensure equitable representation at decision-making tables. She emphasized the importance of having a guiding north star to turn to when the journey gets tough, and obstacles are thrown your way. 

Develop a hustler mindset

Ehizogie Agbonlahor, the Founder and CEO of
Anutio, shed light on the importance of developing a hustler mindset. A mindset that can be broken down as unwavering determination and relentless resourcefulness, Ehizogie identified a gap in career guidance tools and decided to develop Anutio. 

Embracing a hustler mindset involves resourcefully leveraging all available means, as demonstrated in her case by tapping into the expertise of her brother’s AI skills to build the platform and by doing everything she possibly could to get her first 500 sign-ups.

Ehizogie teaches us a very important lesson here — avoid waiting around for opportunities; instead, actively seek and create them. 

Feeling inspired? Embark on your entrepreneurial journey with DMZ. Our Black Innovation Programs equip Black founders with the tools, resources and community to succeed. Learn more at and apply today.


Year in Review: DMZ Wrapped 2023

The stats are in! Let’s take a look at our feats this past year.

This year truly soared to unprecedented heights, from supporting more than a hundred dynamic startups here at our HQ to helping international founders making groundbreaking strides in innovation and global expansion.

Raise a glass with us as we toast to the incredible accomplishments and milestones that defined our community’s success in 2023.

We’ve always been at the forefront of supporting startups, and this year was no exception. Throughout 2023, we proudly supported an array of startups spanning diverse industries. From PropTech, Automation SaaS, Supply Chain and Logistics to FinTech and Cybersecurity, we’ve had the privilege of nurturing the growth of businesses driving impact across many unique verticals.

Among many exciting announcements in 2023, we were proud to become UBI Global’s official research and selection partner this year and revealed the top-ranking incubators and accelerators worldwide on stage at the World Incubation Summit in Belgium.

Our year in review wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Collision 2023. Marking the start of Collision week, DMZ’s Insiders Event showcased top startup pitches and awarded $65,000 in funding to the winning founders.

The event included an esteemed audience of industry leaders and saw David Walmsley, Globe and Mail’s Editor-in-Chief, deliver a memorable keynote speech.

If you’ve been keeping up with us this year, you’ll know that DMZ marked 2023 as the year of the camel startup. DMZ’s prominent presence at Collision featured a 7-foot camel, a stage with partner and founder panels, global showcases, a “Shark Tank” style pitch competition and more, and prize giveaways over the three-day conference.

Our commitment to empowering international startups reached new horizons through global partnerships, such as DMZ’s collaboration with the Japan External Trade Organization’s (JETRO) Global Acceleration Hub, marking a significant milestone as its first Canadian partner.

This year fueled collaborations with both existing and new partners that packed a heavy punch for the startup innovation landscape. 2023 saw us join forces with 25 new partners and continue great work with existing partners, including Amex Canada, Scotiabank, Desjardins, and Groundbreak Ventures.

With over 860 student entrepreneurs supported and a whopping 1,294 individuals attending Masterclasses, we’ve unlocked a new level of potential for the next generation of tech pioneers.

Embracing diversity in our programs has always been a cornerstone of our efforts, and this year we’re proud to share that 20% of our Incubator companies were founded by Black entrepreneurs and 24% by women.

Hot off the press! DMZ and our startups were talked about… a lot.
Our startups shone brightly, garnering an astounding 35,400 media impressions over the year!

There was never a dull moment at DMZ’s bustling entrepreneurial hub. With 7,000+ visitors over the year, our team hosted 123 groups for tours and 127 events at our HQ in Toronto.

Coffees were flowing year-round, with 8,685 cups served this year, igniting our creative sparks while our startups and staff worked hard. But that’s not to say we didn’t also play hard – 1,926 ping pong matches were held in our games room.

Our staff also embarked on our own entrepreneurial endeavours this year, 3D printing a total of 1,129 camel structures.

What a year! 2023 was an opportunity for DMZ to recalibrate – to hone in on evolving our programs and operations – and we’ve made significant progress in this direction. Now, on the brink of our 14th birthday this upcoming year, there’s a whole lot more to look forward to. Stay tuned for another promising year ahead.

Want to play a role in contributing to DMZ’s 2024 stats and milestones? Discover DMZ and our programming here. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter to get the latest tech news, updates, and special offers.

Introducing DMZ’s new cohort of Incubator startups

Out of hundreds of applications from around the world, we’ve hand-selected 13 tech startups to join us for the next 18 months.

Some highlights of this cohort include:

  • Representation from diverse verticals: FinTech, EnterpriseTech, GovTech, Smart Automation and more
  • More than 30% of companies are women-founded and over 30% Black-founded
  • AI-enabled technology comprises over half of this cohort
  • Startups from Peru, Nigeria, Iran, India, the United Kingdom, Italy and Canada
  • A new selection process called Deep Dive sessions – where subject-matter experts undergo rigorous assessments with startup founders to evaluate each company’s focal areas, ensuring top-tier selection.

Throughout the program, startups will receive comprehensive support to execute their go-to-market strategy, acquire lighthouse customers, gain media exposure, explore global expansion, prepare for the next round of funding and much more. DMZ will be with them every step of the way, giving them hands-on coaching, access to our world-class community, professional services, business savings and more.  

Just when we thought we had seen the best of the best, our newest cohort has seriously raised the bar, leaving us in awe of their track records and potential. 

Keep reading and join us in extending a big DMZ welcome to Cohort 6!

Cleanster logo
On a mission to make quality cleaning services more accessible, Cleanster connects property managers and homeowners with professional cleaners. Their solution matches users with locally vetted service providers to clean their spaces at an affordable price and integrates with leading property management software for users to manage their property care operations.

Flowjin logo
Flowjin is an AI-powered tool that empowers content creators and businesses with the tools to drive social media growth. With Flowjin, users can easily identify high-performing content and quickly create customizable clips for social media, ensuring users maximize content and save time. logo is an intelligent SaaS platform that provides AI-powered virtual specialists to drive customer and employee success. Offering tailored solutions to clients, can be leveraged for customer success, employee engagement and partner success.

Hilo logo
HILO is at the forefront of revolutionizing Customer Experience (CX) in buildings with a one-stop, user-configured, personalized, and AI-enabled platform to improve and simplify people’s lives where they work and live. HILO empowers building operators to retain current tenants, attract new ones and streamline operations.

Loopify logo
Loopify360 is an all-in-one marketing and sales hub for small and medium-sized enterprises, offering a range of solutions and tools designed to find and retain customers. Their AI-powered marketing platform provides tailored solutions, delivering optimal return on investment.

PoliTraq logo
PoliTraQ combines stakeholder profiles, meeting notes and briefing materials into a single, all-in-one advocacy management system. Their solution helps public affairs professionals implement and manage advocacy campaigns, monitor legislation and track advocacy impact.

ReInvest Wealth logo
ReInvestWealth offers a cost-effective solution for small business accounting needs. Their professionally trained AI accountant provides daily bookkeeping and expert financial advice, addressing common pain points like slow processing and overlooked tax refunds. 

ShipVista logo
ShipVista streamlines multi-channel order management and fulfillment for online retailers. By offering real-time carrier rates, automated label printing, and integration with multiple carriers, it saves time and money while enhancing sales.

Subskryb logo
Subskyb is a premium vehicle-as-a-service solution that offers high-end vehicles for a monthly fee, covering insurance, maintenance and roadside assistance. Users can effortlessly select their luxury vehicle of choice and have it delivered, all while car owners earn by listing their vehicles.

Sugar security logo
Sugar Security makes advanced cybersecurity testing easy and affordable for small to mid-sized businesses. Through their cloud-based software, Sugar Security empowers businesses to identify security vulnerabilities in their organizations through enhanced vulnerability scanning.

Syzl logo
Syzl is revolutionizing the food industry by transforming idle commercial kitchens into bustling hubs for culinary entrepreneurs. Their platform enables food makers to find compliant, safe and flexible workspaces and empowers kitchen owners to leverage unused stations to earn extra revenue. logo
VidBoard simplifies video production by creating AI-enabled avatar models. Their platform offers a cost-effective and scalable solution, eliminating the need for studio visits, multiple professionals, equipment and third-party costs.

Zagitas logo
Zagitas serves as a digital assistant in the office. Their solution automates manual business processes through the integration of AI, robotic process automation, chatbots and business intelligence technologies.

Want to join the next cohort of changemakers? DMZ is now accepting applications for its March 2024 cohort. Apply




From Toronto to the Indo-Pacific: DMZ’s global impact

With 40 economies, four billion people and a staggering $47.19 trillion in economic activity, the Indo-Pacific represents a new horizon of opportunity for the world.

You have probably heard a ton about the Indo-Pacific region recently, but if you’re not clear on exactly what’s going on, you’re not alone. So, we thought we’d break it down.

In Canada, the Indo-Pacific Strategy is designed to increase collaboration, expand trade and investment opportunities and support immigration within the region. The Indo-Pacific is made up of 40 countries and is home to six of Canada’s top 13 trading partners. Given its economic potential and growth, it’s no surprise that Canada has been keen to engage with the region. And yes, you guessed it. Their startup ecosystems have seen a ton of momentum.

In line with Canada’s work to foster innovation globally, DMZ encourages its startups to explore new markets and supports global partners in crafting startup support programs.

We decided to sit down with our global offices from the Indo-Pacific to learn more about their markets and what teaming up with DMZ’s HQ has meant for them.


Zone Startups Vietnam, a DMZ-powered accelerator in Ho Chi Minh City, provides hands-on strategic and tactical guidance to Vietnamese startups seeking market validation and customer acquisition.

“Vietnam offers a booming startup ecosystem for companies looking to expand. VC investments have been growing steadily thanks to government tax incentives that help attract foreign investors and companies. Today, the country anticipates VC funding to reach $5 billion by 2025,” said Quynh Vo, Program Director of Zone Startups Vietnam

Fintech, in particular, has seen a 248% increase in startup investment, with retail, health and education following close behind. Plus, their economy is projected to maintain a steady growth rate of 6.5% by the end of 2023. 

“DMZ provided us with the blueprint for startup success. By leveraging their tried and true playbook, we equip startups in the Vietnamese ecosystem with the tools to succeed. We take pride in the community we’ve built, and the startups have been able to support to date,” said Quynh Vo, Program Director of Zone Startups Vietnam.


DMZ is the official Canadian incubator partner for JETRO’s Global Acceleration Hub, catering to Japanese startups seeking expansion into Canada. DMZ supports Japanese startups entering the Canadian market through coaching, mentorship and matchmaking.

Japan offers a globally recognized economy and a corporate landscape eager to collaborate with and invest in startups. Japanese corporations often look to startup solutions to improve their business operations, providing a clear pathway to success for Canadian startups looking to expand.

“DMZ and JETRO’s collaboration has served as a conduit for Canadian and Japanese startups looking to expand, providing international opportunities for Japanese-led startups to be immersed in Canada’s tech ecosystem,” said Saito Takeshi, Executive Director of JETRO Toronto.

When it comes to the most promising opportunities for Canadian startups, the country is hyper-focused on increasing digitization, improving operational efficiencies, reaching Japan’s net-zero targets and supporting Japan’s aging population.

“The key is for Canadian startups to bring innovation that is not yet available in Japan but has been successfully validated in North America. There also needs to be an understanding that the technology or business model may need to be adapted for the Japanese market,” said Saito Takeshi, Executive Director of JETRO Toronto.

Powered by DMZ, Landing Pad Tokyo is a globally connected hub accelerating the capabilities of Japan’s top innovators and helping companies lead digital transformation in the manufacturing sector.

Japan has a long history of investing in the Indo-Pacific. In fact, Japan set a precedent for engaging with the Indo-Pacific, establishing one of the first strategies geared toward the region called the ‘Free and Open Indo-Pacific.’

“Working with DMZ has been a driving force for Japanese SMEs. High school students in Japan have been able to participate in their student entrepreneur program, Basecamp, inspiring them to dream big. Their dedicated team with diverse backgrounds broadened our perspectives, unearthed forgotten Japanese values and added immeasurable value to our partnership,” said Chieko Bond, Director of Business Development and Canadian Operations of Landing Pad Tokyo.


StartUp Village and DMZ work together to nurture innovation between Canada and the Philippines, empowering entrepreneurs from both countries to thrive and make meaningful contributions to the global startup landscape.

“Aside from its strategic location, the Philippines offers a lot for startups looking to expand into the Indo-Pacific, thanks to its young and tech-savvy population. With its average age sitting at 25.8 and being the social media capital of the world, startups don’t only have a solid potential user base but a robust workforce,” said Carlo Calimon, President and Co-Founder of StartUp Village.

“The partnership between DMZ and StartUp Village aims to bridge the gap between our two regions, creating a gateway that will help open markets, create an exchange of knowledge and expertise and ultimately create shared successes for both organizations and countries,” said Carlo Calimon, President and Co-Founder of StartUp Village.


The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) program provides aspiring student entrepreneurs with an opportunity to spend 12 months in Toronto, working full-time with a DMZ startup.

“Students get to take on roles ranging from software development and data analytics to marketing and business expansion. By working with DMZ startups, students experience startup culture firsthand and learn from founders directly, inspiring them to create their own companies one day,” said Harpreet Singh, Regional Director (Americas) at NUS Overseas Colleges and Associate Director of the National University of Singapore.

Having ranked 8th globally for its startup ecosystem, Singapore’s desirable and strategic location in Asia’s epicentre empowers enterprises to access the area’s most rapidly emerging markets, such as Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Singapore has gained a reputation for its free-market economy that promotes international trade, business regulations, and market competition. Similar to Canada, Singapore provides visa and economic incentives and support for foreign startups keen to set up a presence locally. 

For Canadian-led startups eyeing the market, Singapore shows high demand in cybersecurity, fintech, and AI, with plans to boost its agricultural sector.

By championing global collaboration, DMZ is fueling innovation ecosystems worldwide, helping more startups succeed internationally and building bridges to connect Canadian startups with the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. 

Learn more about DMZ’s global network and how you can gain a competitive advantage with DMZ in a rapidly changing market by heading to

Beyond traditional therapy: new avenues for mental well-being

How DMZ alumni Blue Guardian, Layla and OPTT Health are pioneering change.

As we bid farewell to summer days, let’s keep in mind that the changing seasons can often bring a subtle shift in our emotions, making it all the more important to seek mental health support when needed.

In light of World Mental Health Day, DMZ wanted to shine a light on how the landscape of mental health care is evolving rapidly, thanks to innovative startups like Blue Guardian, Layla and OPTT Health.

These DMZ alumni are at the forefront of a transformative wave that’s reshaping the way we address mental well-being. Here’s what they shared with us about the future of mental well-being support.

Blue Guardian

As mental health technology evolves, how do you envision the future landscape of mental well-being support?

In the future, AI-driven systems will offer personalized, accessible, and continuous mental well-being support by analyzing individual mental health data, enabling early interventions, therapeutic conversations, and aiding clinicians in making faster, more accurate decisions for a broader population.

How does Blue Guardian’s emotional analysis identify potentially harmful language in communication on children’s devices?

Blue Guardian employs an innovative approach to safeguard children’s emotional well-being in their digital interactions. Its advanced AI algorithms are specifically designed to detect potential mental health cues and signs of emotional distress in their language. When concerning language is identified, Blue Guardian engages children through a chatbot interface, encouraging them to share their feelings and emotional state in a non-intrusive manner. The chatbot then compiles a report for mental health professionals, enabling early intervention and support, ultimately enhancing children’s emotional well-being in the digital age.

How does Blue Guardian empower parents to be more in tune with the mental health of their children?

A multifaceted support system; through real-time alerts, parents receive timely notifications when potentially concerning language or emotional distress is detected in their child’s digital interactions, allowing for immediate intervention. The system’s detailed reports offer a comprehensive overview of their child’s emotional state, enabling parents to identify patterns and areas of concern.



As mental health technology evolves, how do you envision the future landscape of mental well-being support? 

We envision a future of highly personalized and integrated healthcare, including mental health, using advanced platforms to improve accessibility, timeliness, and specialization. Data-driven technologies will provide valuable insights for personalized mental health journeys and treatment plans. Ethical AI may enhance backend operations and potentially augment mental health care, but concerns about efficacy and patient safety remain in this evolving field.

How does Layla ensure clients receive effective and personalized care from its therapists throughout their therapeutic journey?

Layla Care prioritizes client-centric mental health services by partnering with skilled, diverse therapists. Our therapists speak 27 languages, 35% are BIPOC, and 27% specialize in LGBTQ2S+ issues. With an average of 10 years of experience, they can cover up to 35 primary concerns. Our selection process ensures the highest standards, with only 25% of applicants accepted. Each client is assigned a dedicated Care Coordinator for support throughout their journey.

How does Layla’s approach to therapist-client matching foster a strong bond between clients and therapists, and what specific factors are taken into account during this process?

When matching clients with therapists, we consider clinical, logistical, and interpersonal fit. Interpersonal factors greatly impact therapy success, with over 70% relying on them. Many of our clients prefer matches based on personal identifiers like gender, language, race, disability, or LGBTQ2+ status.


OPTT, a presenting company at the 2022 OBIO Investment Summit, selected for Morgan Stanley's Multicultural Innovation Lab — OBIO - Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization

As mental health technology evolves, how do you envision the future landscape of mental well-being support? 

Current mental healthcare faces scalability issues due to a shortage of clinicians. While machines can’t replace human connection, technology can enhance clinicians’ abilities, offering curated content for patient self-learning and generating initial responses. Mental health technology can also help determine individual care needs, reducing wait times for less intensive resources and prioritizing care appropriately.

How does OPTT empower clinicians to deliver high-quality mental health care in a flexible and accessible manner?

OPTT offers two cutting-edge products for data-driven patient care. The first is structured CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) content that empowers patients to engage at their own pace, while clinicians provide personalized feedback on assignments. This approach enables clinicians to assist 3-4 patients per hour, significantly boosting their capacity.

The second product leverages AI/ML algorithms to evaluate patient mental status, predict care adherence with 70% accuracy (four weeks in advance) and suggest the most appropriate care path. These algorithms also highlight relevant patient work, allowing clinicians to review and modify feedback efficiently. As a result, clinicians can spend just 10-15 minutes per patient while upholding the highest standards of care quality.

Can you discuss the significance of continuous remote monitoring in maintaining and improving patients’ mental health over time, and how OPTT’s tool facilitate this process? 

When devising a long-term care plan, the primary consideration is enabling symptom monitoring outside of clinical settings, akin to how a glucometer aids diabetic patients. That is what we have been trying to do with our remote monitoring algorithms; to remotely monitor patients’ mental status and predict and prevent the next episode before it happens, adopting a proactive rather than a reactive approach. 

In crafting these solutions, user-friendliness is paramount. The most effective technologies are either entirely passive or require minimal effort from the user. This is why we’re integrating our natural language processing algorithm with other indicators, such as voice biomarkers and sleep and activity patterns gathered by devices like Fitbits. This amalgamation aids in comprehensive remote mental status evaluation. While our expertise lies in natural language processing algorithms, we actively collaborate with other tech innovators to enable us to integrate their advancements into our assessment tools, aiming for a holistic, remote understanding of a patient’s mental well-being.

We hope you’re as inspired as we are from seeing so many companies like Blue Guardian, Layla and OPTT Heath bringing tech and innovation to the field of mental health support. Keep up with how our other tech startups are solving unique challenges by subscribing to our TechTalk newsletter here.

Unlocking DMZ’s benefits, from a $10K entry grant and travel subsidies to free legal support

Breaking down how DMZ can help your startup’s bottom line. 

As a #1 ranked incubator globally, DMZ has a lot to offer, and we pride ourselves on not only talking the talk
but also walking the walk. We support the most promising and high-impact tech entrepreneurs who have what it takes to scale their businesses. But don’t get it twisted; we know it takes two to tango.

That’s why startups that join DMZ’s Incubator receive world-class programming and services. To us, that means real, tangible support. 

To start, startups accepted into our Incubator program receive a $10,000 entry grant to help kick-start their journey with us. While we know $10,000 can help with product development, a targeted marketing campaign, training and development or new infrastructure, we can also appreciate that $10,000 is a drop in the bucket. 

Beyond DMZ’s entry grant, startups receive personalized support with customer acquisition and fundraising, unlimited 1 on 1 coaching sessions from our Experts-in-Residence, pro-bono professional services, exclusive pitch competitions, access to the Student Work Placement Program, grant research and writing, startup perks and discounts valued at over $1 million, help with SR&ED tax incentives, free financial plan model custom built by a CFO, free UX design support,  24/7 office space and full-service amenities… the list goes on and on. 

So, how do all these program perks support startups with expenses, and —more importantly — how have they empowered startups to level up? We thought you’d never ask. 

Here are just a few ways DMZ’s Incubator can help your startup’s bottom line. 

Explore new markets without breaking the bank.  

Building a thriving business requires startups to go global, and DMZ helps founders cover travel costs for opportunities abroad through Mitacs Entrepreneur International. We’re committed to inspiring our founders to explore untapped markets and have been thrilled to see founders delve into opportunities abroad.

SoftDrive (Incubator ‘22) received $15,000 to travel to London, New York City, Japan and San Francisco to tap into international markets, meet with VCs, secure customers and attend global conferences

Lightster (Incubator ‘23) received $5,000 to travel to London to attend Techspo London and successfully secured a sales-qualified lead.


Fuel your research and level up your product. 

Strengthen your startup’s innovation capabilities through the Mitacs Business Strategy Internship. As a Mitacs partner, DMZ supports founders with the program to harness cutting-edge research to commercialize new products and gain a competitive edge in the market.  

Charmy Pet (Incubator ‘22) received $9,000 to research the health benefits of traditional Chinese herbs for pets, which led to the successful commercialization of a new product line available in over 450 specialty pet stores across Canada today.


Access essential legal services from day one. 

DMZ’s Startup Legal Support gives founders fully subsidized in-house legal services. We know how crucial legal support is for early-stage founders, which is why startups who come to DMZ don’t need to worry about cutting corners and instead can have legal processes in place from the get-go. 

To date, Startup Legal Support has saved founders over $600,000 in legal fees, helping them with legal matters, including corporate cleanups, intellectual property, stock option plans, term sheet reviews, share sales, terms of use, privacy policies, service agreements, customer contracts and more.

SoftDrive (Incubator ‘22) was able to save over $35,000 in legal fees.

XpertVR (Incubator ‘22) was able to save over $28,000 in legal fees.

Leasey (Incubator ‘24) was able to save over $25,000 in legal fees.


Save on startup must-haves.

DMZ’s perks and benefits provide discounts and fully subsidized tools for founders to save money on the essentials. From founder mental health, AWS Credits, financial services and more, DMZ startups receive perks from 170+ service providers worth over $1 million in business savings. 

Sitemax (Incubator ‘25) received $25,000 in AWS credits, allowing them to re-allocate resources to hire a new Business Development Representative for their team.  

Kaitongo (Incubator ‘24) received $25,000 in AWS credits, allowing them to make product enhancements.

Take part in exclusive pitch competitions. 

DMZ Incubator startups have the opportunity to participate in exclusive startup pitch competitions for the chance to showcase their business and secure grant funding. DMZ handed out $65,000 in grant funding to Incubator startups this summer.  

Chexy (Incubator ‘24) received $50,000 in funding, which helped them improve customer experience and expand their landlord offerings. 

Formaloo (Incubator ‘24) received $15,000 in funding to support their continued expansion with the new release of Formaloo 3.0.

Subsidize your team’s wages. 

Members of DMZ’s Incubator program get access to the Government of Canada’s Student Work Placement Program, which allows startups to subsidize student wages.

Lightster (Incubator ‘23) was able to subsidize $20,000 in wages, which covered 3 student placements, one of which did two terms. 

Want to learn more about how DMZ’s Incubator can help your startup through coaching, mentorship, programming and benefits? Head to to learn more and apply today. 

Basecamp 2023: Unveiling this year’s winners

8 weeks, 36 students, 44 workshops, 4800+ hours working on startups and $30K in grant prizes

And just like that, DMZ’s favourite time of the year has come and gone. Seeing a new group of talented young entrepreneurs complete DMZ’s Basecamp program is always inspiring.

Basecamp serves as a nurturing space for innovation, allowing up-and-coming entrepreneurs to turn their business ideas into reality. After witnessing the growth of this cohort, we are confident that the future of innovation is bright and in capable hands.

Basecamp serves as an 8-week tech incubation program for students to unlock their potential, and collaborate alongside other youth innovators, industry experts and accomplished entrepreneurs.

Participating teams had the opportunity to pitch their startups to a panel of judges for the chance to take home one of six grants worth $5,000 to put towards taking their business to the next level.

DMZ was honoured to sit down with the winners to learn how the Basecamp program fast-tracked their startup’s trajectory.

DMZ Basecamp 2023 participants, ClearCardio, pose with their $5000 cheque

Clear Cardio

Clear Cardio is an affordable, accurate, wearable machine that instantly detects heart issues. Before starting Basecamp, the pair had no experience in the startup ecosystem. Basecamp provided them with the tools to nurture ClearCardio from concept to reality.

“[Basecamp] is the perfect way to get into the startup world, especially if you’re high school students like us, as the program is a beginner’s guide to everything business-related you need to kick start your journey, ” said Nima Vasigh, Co-Founder of Clear Cardio.

The PilotASD team poses with their $5000 cheque


Founded by two Toronto Metropolitan University students, PilotASD is a platform that simplifies finding tailored resources to make the future more accessible for autistic youth. Given their computer science background and experience with product development, the pair partook in Basecamp to better understand entrepreneurship and how to start a business.

“Basecamp set us up to thrive in Toronto’s entrepreneurship scene, and we’re delighted to be a part of it. We’re excited to see the journey ahead with PilotASD and where our future will take us, ” explained Cindy Fang, Co-Founder of PilotASD.

A group of students from startup NearMe pose with their $5000 cheque


After years of isolation during the pandemic, three students came together to tackle the loneliness epidemic. NearMe is an innovative app that uses geolocation to connect post-secondary students based on interests and promotes in-person interactions. Looking back at their experiences in Basecamp, the trio found that the program served as a launching pad, equipping them with skills to tackle pitching, marketing and finances.

“The connections we made with Basecamp mentors gave us strategic insights on how we can elevate our startup. They helped us navigate topics that we aren’t necessarily getting taught in school,” said Rayan Ahmad, Co-Founder of NearMe.

DMZ Basecamp 2023 participants, Aidify, pose with their $5000 cheque


This sibling duo is fighting for student success and academic integrity. Aidify is a typing analytics tool to help teachers detect plagiarism and assess student effort. Aidify highlighted how the mentors stood out as a remarkably influential part of the program. They were able to absorb startup fundamentals and found themselves inspired by their success.

“Starting a business was never a serious option we considered for our futures, but that’s changed now that we know the ins and outs of running a business. Basecamp has given us a ton of confidence knowing that it’s a real possibility for us,” said Charlie To, Co-Founder of Aidify.

PocketClass smiles upon receiving a $5000 cheque


PocketClass is a platform for extracurriculars that simplifies the interaction between parents and instructors through their integrated search, scheduling and payment features. CEO and Founder Lisa Huh plans to join DMZ Masterclass workshops to continue elevating her business.

“Basecamp is the go-to program for early-stage and aspiring founders. It acts as your compass in the unpredictable world of entrepreneurship, with resources, mentorship and a supportive community for your journey from idea to success,” explained CEO and Founder of PocketClass, Lisa Huh.

DMZ Basecamp 2023 participants, Capable, pose with their $5000 cheque


Although she didn’t reach the final pitching round, Jazel Dela Paz was selected by her fellow Basecamp peers as the lucky recipient of the Peer Choice Award. Her startup, Capable, aims to make adulthood easy by helping young adults confidently prepare, manage and navigate the responsibilities of adulthood stress-free.

“Basecamp allowed me to expand my network, introducing me to a strong network of startups and mentors. Their support, motivation and accountability were invaluable, especially during critical moments when I needed it the most,” said Founder of Capable, Jazel Dela Paz.

These students and their startups are shining examples of the innovation that spurs when passion, hard work, and support intersect. As we draw the curtains on yet another exciting Basecamp chapter, we’re confident these startups will make their mark in the entrepreneurial ecosystem for years.

Cheers to their success and a summer filled with learning, growth and success!

Looking to join Basecamp in 2024? Subscribe to our TechTalk newsletter and stay informed on program applications here. Until then, we invite you to check out DMZ Masterclass to master your business skills at

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