March 1, 2017 / 8:52 PM / 2 years ago

Major U.S tech accelerator plans Canada expansion -sources

TORONTO (Reuters) - A major U.S.-based accelerator for promising young technology companies is set to announce plans to launch its first Canadian chapter, two sources with knowledge of the plans said on Wednesday.

The Toronto-based version of the Techstars program will be run in partnership with a major Canadian venture capital fund, one of the sources said. An announcement is expected on Thursday.

“Techstars would love to be in Canada and we expect to have something to announce in the near future,” a spokeswoman said in response to queries. 

Techstars runs three-month programs in which small groups of selected company founders pair with mentors and connect with potential investors.

While Canada has a rich technology scene, it has long struggled to attract top caliber executives or provide the necessary environment to keep its highly skilled tech graduates from bolting south to California or New York.

The program could prove attractive for companies working on artificial intelligence solutions, an area in which Canada is widely seen as having a particular strength.

Tech giants like Google and Microsoft have both committed millions in investments to Canada’s AI community.

Techstars launched in Boulder, Colorado, in 2006, and has since operated more than 100 accelerator programs across the United States — including in New York City, Boston, Seattle, and Detroit — while also stretching out to London, Tel Aviv, Cape Town and Berlin.

Techstars recently announced its first Asia-Pacific based accelerator, with Australia’s Adelaide to receive its first cohort of companies in July.

It was not clear when the Toronto program would host its first cohort.

In exchange for 6 percent of a company’s common stock, Techstars gives successful applicants to its programs $20,000 and offers a $100,000 convertible note.

Reporting by Alastair Sharp; Editing by Sandra Maler

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