Email address copied to clipboard Fichier 3

Montréal startups are blooming

Have you heard Harley Finkelstein’s recent comments on Montréal? The president of Shopify has often praised the city’s assets in the past. But these days, it’s something else! 

August 28, 2023

“I don’t think there’s any city in the world that is more entrepreneurial than Montreal,” he told journalist Toula Drimonis for a piece in CultMTL in which he discusses his return to Montréal and the motivations behind it. 

He goes on to say: “You have more people taking more risks. You have this default-to-yes mentality here.” 

His words speak highly of our startup ecosystem. And the fact is, they are in line with the reality on the ground.   

Venture capital: 53 projects funded in six months  

In Montréal, everyone feels at home. The city is at the crossroads of all kinds of encounters. It hosts the largest number of international congresses, was voted best student city in the world (Helpful Professor, 2023) and stands out for its strong growth in forward-looking sectors such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and clean technologies. These assets are what drives the city’s innovative character, sustained by a constant “clash” of ideas. 


The latest figures from the Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (CVCA) also confirm that venture capitalists are very active. With 26 deals worth $320M, Montréal stood out from all other Canadian cities in the first three months of the year. This is exceptional. Twenty-seven additional deals were recorded in the second quarter.  

Having said that, and to be totally honest, I didn’t fall off my chair at Montréal International, where I promote the city’s assets to international entrepreneurs.  

Over the past five years, my colleagues and I have accompanied some 40 international entrepreneurs who chose the city to launch their start-up amid a buzzing ecosystem:  

  • 1,300+ startups  
  • $11B+ in venture capital financing between 2017 and 2022* for all of Québec  
  • Six of the ten most active funds in Canada are based in Montréal  

Moreover, in the spring of 2023, École de technologie supérieure’s Centech and the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship were ranked among the world’s top 10 university business incubators, out of 600 organizations in 90 countries surveyed.  

Over the years, Montréal’s creative and innovative character has driven our startups forward. And beyond their notorious economic impact, they have the potential to make a real difference in our everyday lives.   

Take FemTherapeutics (Negin Ashouri), for instance, who has developed a personalized medical prosthesis to improve the quality of life of women suffering from pelvic organ problems. Or Ubenwa (Charles Onu) and his mobile application that analyzes newborn babies’ cries to detect possible signs of respiratory distress. Or Orchid-B (Claudio Romano), who develops critical digital infrastructures for businesses. 

Harley Finkelstein’s entrepreneurial, Montréal spirit  

Still in doubt about the startup spirit in Montréal? Let’s take a quick look at Harley Finkelstein’s backgroundto put his words into perspective.  

Born in Montréal in the mid-1980s, Harley Finkelstein grew up in South Florida before returning to his birth city to complete his studies at McGill University, where he launched his first startup. He completed his undergraduate studies at Concordia University before heading West to Ottawa, where he joined Shopify, whose online shopping platform has revolutionized the retail industry. It is used by millions of people across 175 countries. 

Today, Harley Finkelstein runs the company and funds over 30 startups. He remains highly involved in the ecosystem and numerous events, including the classic StartupFest.   

With all this baggage, his words resonate with investors. And having seen others succeed in Montréal, I can only agree: the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in Montréal. 

Voir cette publication sur Instagram

Une publication partagée par Harley Finkelstein (@harley)

The MI team: An asset to Greater Montréal 

Montréal International’s Foreign Investment team is on a mission to promote and support foreign direct investments in Greater Montréal. 

Our team is made up of more than thirty specialists whose job includes showcasing the city’s ecosystems and opening doors to make it easy for businesses to invest in the area. 

To learn more about our services, click here.