The Ontario Government, through Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), is now accepting applications for this year’s Social Enterprise Zone (SEZ) and Social Enterprise Pitch Competition.

As a popular feature of OCE’s award-winning Discovery conference, the Social Enterprise Zone will showcase 19 Ontario-based social enterprises. With more than 3,600 attendees and 541 exhibitors at Discovery 2017, participation in Canada’s premier innovation conference and trade show will help these social entrepreneurs make valuable connections to potential investors, partners, and customers. The application deadline is March 9, 2018 at 12 noon, and applications can be made on the OCE Discovery website.

“Ontario’s social enterprises are improving the world we live in while supporting innovation in our economy,” says Steven Del Duca, Minister of Economic Development and Growth. “By tackling social challenges through new ideas, these entrepreneurs are helping create a more prosperous future for all of us. As this high-potential sector continues to grow, so too does its positive social impact and Ontario is proud to showcase it at Discovery again this year.”

Each year, five to eight social enterprises are selected for the SEZ and invited to enter the Social Enterprise Pitch Competition. Those companies will pitch live for a chance to win $20,000 in business development funding and legal services. This award package includes a $10,000 award from the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth, and a $10,000 legal services package from law firm Norton Rose Fulbright to assist with further development of their business.

Last year’s winner was Ulula, a software and analytics provider for businesses seeking to measure and monitor human rights violations in global supply chains. Ulula leverages simple mobile technologies to turn worker voices into business intelligence to advance the creation of more transparent and ethical supply chains. A highlight reel from last year’s Pitch Competition can be found on OCE’s YouTube channel

“The Social Enterprise Zone and Pitch Competition are both amazing opportunities, not just for Ontario’s entrepreneurs, but also for our collective social, financial and environmental well-being,” says Dr. Tom Corr, OCE’s President and CEO. “I am thrilled that in partnership with the Ontario government, Discovery continues to offer this important platform to address challenges with a focus on global community and social responsibility while promoting great business ideas.”

To enter the pitch competition, interested companies should submit a two-minute video or pitch deck (maximum 15 slides) outlining the problem the venture aims to solve. This includes the social and environmental impact, the market, a competitive analysis, traction, revenue model and any unique items that OCE should know about the business.

This year’s Discovery Conference runs April 30-May 1, 2018 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. For more information, please visit https://www.ocediscovery.com/.