Dedicated to supporting Black entrepreneurs in Toronto’s tech-driven innovation sector, Mayor John Tory and Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson announced today that the
City of Toronto is partnering with the DMZ at Ryerson University on its Black Innovation Fellowship (BIF) and committing $250,000 towards the expansion of the program.

The donation, which will contribute $50,000 to BIF per year over the next five years, comes from the City’s Business Incubation Program and is the latest in a string of announcements of other major Canadian leaders joining to support BIF. Through these donations, together with Ryerson’s commitment to match new major donations up to $500K, DMZ draws closer to achieving its $1M fundraising goal.

“With the current world-wide situation – a global health crisis that has disproportionately impacted equity-seeking and racialized communities, and the greater recognition of systemic anti-Black racism – it has never been more important to support Toronto’s Black community, and in this case, Black entrepreneurs,” explained Mayor John Tory during remarks about the announcement.

The funding from the City and StartUP HERE Toronto will help the DMZ recruit more senior Black executives as mentors, attract more Black talent to run the BIF program, and distribute grant funds to high-potential BIF startups, among many other program improvements.

“Now is the time to invest in the growth of an inclusive tech ecosystem and build on the success of our Black Innovation Fellowship. Toronto is home to a world-class innovation sector, and as our City works towards economic recovery, tech companies will be key players in generating employment and economic growth,” said Abdullah Snobar, Executive Director of DMZ.

“We are thrilled to see continued collaboration between the public and private sectors,” adds Isaac Olowolafe Jr., Founder of Dream Maker Ventures Inc., and BIF Founding Partner. “With the City of Toronto’s support, the DMZ will help transform more Black-owned businesses into tomorrow’s tech superstars.”

“While Toronto’s tech startup scene has seen rapid growth and sizable investment deals in recent years, this success has not been shared equally,” explained Gbemi Akande, DMZ’s BIF Program Lead. “It means a lot to have the City of Toronto come onboard to support Black entrepreneurs and make the commitment to creating a tech ecosystem that sees inclusive economic growth. I cannot wait to see where we take the program from here.”

“Ryerson University has long been committed to our community, our city, to innovation and to fostering a welcoming culture of entrepreneurship,” said Mohamed Lachemi, President and Vice-Chancellor of Ryerson University. “I want to thank the City of Toronto and everyone that has donated to BIF to date. I am delighted that Ryerson has pledged to match all major donations of up to $500K as part of our mission to express solidarity with the Black community and to continue to work towards a more inclusive society.”

To make a donation to the Black Innovation Fellowship program, please visit this link. Both personal and business donations are welcome.

For more information about the Black Innovation Fellowship and how to get involved, please contact Krishan Mehta, Assistant Vice President, Engagement, Ryerson University at [email protected]

The DMZ is a leading business incubator for tech startups in Canada. They help startups build great businesses by connecting them with customers, capital, experts and a community of entrepreneurs and influencers.

The DMZ is a partner in StartUp Here Toronto.