Move over, Ford Canada – another automotive manufacturer is wading into the tech industry’s territory.
The Canadian arm of Japanese luxury vehicle manufacturer Infiniti announced today the launch of Infiniti Lab, an accelerator program designed to grow startups focused on developing Internet of Things (IoT) and smart city initiatives.
Produced in partnership with Toronto-based Multiplicity, a non-profit that provides startups with mentorship and education, the lab represents the first startup accelerator launched by a car brand in Canada.
In an April 4 statement, Infiniti Canada managing director Stephen Lester called Multiplicity an “ideal partner,” adding that its leaders “do not wait for change to come to them, they are the change.”
“Canada is brimming with talent and opportunity when it comes to start-ups, and Infiniti Canada is proud to help accelerate the country’s next entrepreneurial stars,” he said.
Infiniti had previously launched a version of the Infiniti Lab program in Hong Kong in 2015. Today’s launch represents the first time the program has been expanded into North America, Infiniti representatives said.
Startups interested in joining the lab are invited to submit their applications starting today. Its formal program, which launches on May 29, is open to pre-seed startups in either the IoT or smart city space, and will give participants the opportunity to collaborate with such high-profile corporate and industry partners as Techstars, OMERS Ventures, Telus Ventures, and the City of Toronto, all of which will provide participants with access to their respective organization’s technology, mentorship and education throughout the program’s month-long period.
The program will culminate in a demonstration day, with participants pitching to a panel of venture capitalists and the top team invited to join the three-month Hong Kong program, which launches in July.
Thus far, the Infiniti Lab’s Hong Kong version has trained two cohorts of startups to graduation, including low-cost, lightweight fuel cell manufacturer Kraftwerk; visual intelligence startup Drop.ai; and electric vehicle solution provider Dagmy Motors.
In an April 4 statement, Multiplicity cofounder Chris Kay said his organization collaborated with Infiniti on the Labs program because of how well the two organizations’ mandates of innovation and entrepreneurship align with each other.
“Infiniti Lab has produced two cohorts of IoT innovators in Hong Kong, and the Toronto program presents a huge opportunity for local founders who want to get noticed on the global stage,” he said.