By Noella Ovid
The DMZ, formerly known as the Digital Media Zone, at Ryerson University has partnered with Innovation Birmingham Campus, a British business incubator, to globally expand their tech startups across borders.
“The partnership has happened because we were approached via the Canadian High Commission. We ran an event with the Canadian High Commission last year, so the relationship was already established,” said Charlotte Crossley, head of operations and communications at Innovation Birmingham Campus, in an e-mail.
The DMZ, being the top-ranked university incubator in Canada and fifth in the world, has signed off a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to coordinate and build out stronger and more effective ties internationally.
According to Abdullah Snobar, executive director of the DMZ, the alliance is set to create an economic and social impact.
“We’re looking at bringing over companies from both sides. [We will be] hosting companies here from the U.K. and they’ll be hosting companies from Canada, and that’s going to create opportunities to build out more jobs and positions,” said Snobar.
The partnership is arranged to acquire talent from both sides and knowledge share across borders, which in turn is determined to create more opportunities for people to know about the DMZ and Ryerson University as a whole.
“We are going to be sending some of our startups abroad to the U.K. because of this partnership now,” said Snobar. “We actually have right now, currently, a company here from the U.K.”
However, Crossley wrote that “It is far too early to determine if any [of Innovation Birmingham Campus’] start-ups will be able to expand as a result of the connections and opportunities this partnership may create.”
Both of the business incubators are going to be doing a lot of their knowledge share over virtual technology and video conferencing in order to allow people to share information and various skill sets, as well as peer-to-peer mentoring.
“Both incubation centres already benefit from high-definition video conferencing, so meetings and events can be arranged to take place utilizing that technology,” wrote Crossley.
As a means of extending the partnership beyond just the national written contract, the companies will be putting out a call for competition via The Next Big Idea Contest.
This is a sponsored competition designed to complement this partnership and the MoU. The winning company from each location will get to travel across borders and have a chance to “build out collaborations, meetings, industry partnerships and some possible connections to elevate their business into the market that they’re already in,” Snobar said.