French Tech Canada: Start-ups Under a Lucky Star

La French Tech Toronto brings together French entrepreneurs based in Canada, but also all innovative Canadian companies that do or wish to do business with France. The community’s missions are to welcome new French start-ups in English-speaking Canada, but also to introduce the French technology ecosystem and its advantages to Canadian innovation structures: start-ups, incubators and investment funds. French Tech Toronto is a community member of an international network deployed by the French Tech mission, which includes more than 140 associations representing French entrepreneurs around the world.

Every year, the French Tech mission lists, within the scope of its FT120 programme, the 120 hyper-growth start-ups, based on a fundraising criterion (>20M€) and/or turnover growth. The program is then relayed by communities, including Ontario. Among these companies, the most represented sectors are health, medicine and biotechnologies, as well as finance and insurance (fintech, insurtech), human resources, resale, marketing and media. “However, we are seeing more and more ‘start-ups’ in the agriculture and clean technology sectors (energy, agriculture, waste treatment or mobility)”, says Maxime Alexandre, co-president of French Tech Toronto. The French Tech mission thus launched the AG20 and Clean20 programs to identify the twenty fastest growing French startups in these fields. In Ontario, the GDP of the technology sector represents 65 billion Canadian dollars (50 billion euros per year for just over 320,000 workers (70% of whom have higher education) in 24,000 companies.

A “Parity Pact”

Admittedly at the forefront of innovation and endowed with great agility, French technology companies are not immune to the labor shortage that affects Canada like the rest of the world. Each year in Ontario, the 63,500 new technology graduates are not enough to fill all the jobs created in North America’s second largest technology cluster. “Skilled foreign labour, particularly French-speaking bilingual labour, is a precious resource, says Estelle Chen, co-president of French Tech Toronto. In particular, we promote the Ontario ecosystem for francophones and francophiles to attract a lot of talent locally. In addition, we also promote exchanges with Canadian talent who wish to continue their journey in France, through the French Tech visa. » The community is also trying to attract more women into these new professions. To achieve this goal, the French Tech mission launched the “Parity Pact” which aims to achieve a minimum threshold of 20% women sitting on the company’s board (board of directors, editor’s note) by 2025, then 40% by 2028, and train managers on diversity issues.

judge on display

All francophone or francophile profiles are welcome and therefore not just the “French from France”. For a candidate, the first step is to apply for and obtain a work permit (Work Permit or PVT or permanent residency) to streamline the process and facilitate integration into Canadian companies. “The big mistake to avoid is reasoning in terms of status: ‘I had that kind of position in my home country, so I can’t accept an inferior title in Canada'”explains Mr. Alexander. Canadians are very pragmatic. They will assess your added value in the document and not based on your degree or position in your home country. So don’t be afraid to start over at the bottom of the stairs, you’ll find that you’ll catch up very quickly. » He also advises against waiting to find a job without getting involved in the local community. Volunteering is an important part of Canadian education. “When you arrive, get involved in a cultural, sporting or religious association, he suggests again. It’s all good to write a first-line Canadian for your CV and get local references that will help you develop your network.

for the good cause

As for immigration procedures, delays are being reduced more and more and should return to normal within a few weeks. “We are impressed with the responsiveness and ability of the immigration services to respond to the Ukrainian, Afghan or Syrian crises, recognizes Mrs. Chen Co, with admiration. In just a few months, more than 100,000 refugees were received in Canada. It is true that the more traditional and less urgent processes may have taken time and that the “technical talents” sometimes had to wait much longer than in the past, but it was for a good cause and it is on the way to solving it. »

Teleworking is also an option and more than 70% of Canadian companies consider the hybrid model to be a sustainable solution. In fact, very few people consider a 100% long-term teleworking model, namely for fiscal reasons or team cohesion. “Canada has a lot to offer in terms of a culture of care, hospitality, economic prospects to experience it from afar. We encourage you to dive in and discover Canada and especially Ontario »concludes Mr. Alexander.

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