Nina Tangri, Ontario’s Associate Minister of Small Business, visited Communitech to meet with startup founders and get a tour of the hub.

Against the backdrop of an ever-evolving tech landscape, the minister listened to the challenges faced by startup founders and acknowledged the need for collaborative strategies to make it easier to start a business, provide support for scale-ups, and retain local talent.

“We’re really trying to keep you all here in Ontario so we don’t lose your great talent to other jurisdictions,” said Tangri. “We want the world to know, globally, that we’re not just open for business, but that we have the best talent in the world.”

Founders of BRFZY, Geomate, Mycro Harvest, PatientCompanion, QReserve, and RideCo had the opportunity to join Minister Tangri, Kitchener-Conestoga MPP Mike Harris, and moderator Matt Bondy of Enterprise Canada, for a roundtable discussion at Communitech about their solutions and some of the challenges around bringing them to market.

Central to the discussion was the imperative of supporting startups in accessing the resources and financial support needed to grow. Tangri emphasized the importance of creating an ecosystem that nurtures and empowers startups at every stage of their journeys.

“You have seed funding, and when you get to a certain level, you get that capital. But the ‘in-between’ part is what we’re missing,” said Tangri. “So, we’re working to fill that gap.”

Tangri pointed out that small businesses make up 98.1 per cent of employer businesses in Canada. “More people are interested in that [entrepreneurial] dream,” she said. “Many of them have seen a need because they’ve gone through something.”

Ariz Bhimani shared his story about founding BRFZY to provide post-operative underwear for cancer patients and inguinal and transition-related surgeries. Bhimani was diagnosed with cancer in 2019 and applied his education in engineering to create the product to help people recover from pelvic injuries.

“My goal is to have this product available for patients in hospitals across Canada, hopefully in the next three to five years, and really increase the standard of care for patients,” Bhimani told Tangri. “As great as mine was, there are definitely things that need to be improved.”

Tangri was welcomed by Christina Wood, Vice-President of Founder Programs at Communitech. “We’re thankful for the Ontario government’s significant and continued support for tech startup founders,” said Wood. “Minister Tangri’s visit is a reminder of how a culture of collaboration can spark growth in the tech ecosystem and help build a future where startups thrive.”