Fintech is doing just fine in Canada this year.
Viviplan and Fortuna.ai have been announced as the respective first and second place winners of the DMZ-BMO Fintech Accelerator program. The competition was launched in May this year and looked to foster the growth of top financial technology startups in the country through a four-month incubation and mentorship program.
Four finalists pitched their ideas in front of judges. Landing in first place and receiving $65,000 was Viviplan, a company that automates high-end financial plans at an affordable price. In second place with a $35,000 prize was Fortuna.ai, an AI startup platform that automates business development.
The accelerator is sponsored by BMO Financial Group, one of Canada’s largest banks, and the DMZ at Ryerson, a top business technology incubator in Toronto. This year’s program follows the success of a 2016 partnership that identified startup FormHero as a standout company that has since undergone a proof of concept with BMO.
“This has been one of our greatest surprises given the caliber of the competition in this year’s DMZ-BMO Fintech Accelerator,” said Rona Birenbaum, co-founder and CEO of Viviplan. “The DMZ’s commitment to building bridges between BMO and the best-in-class fintech startups has helped us further develop our product and accelerate our growth in an amount of time that would’ve been impossible anywhere else.”
The accelerator acts as a way to introduce these new fintech companies to the big banks they can foster relationships with and gain resources from. Over the past few months, there is a lot of evidence of how the biggest financial institutions in Canada have had success partnering with (or in some cases, acqui-hiring) fintech startups. RBC partnered with Wave, ATB Financial tapped Finn.ai, and TD Bank is working with Kasisto, to name a few high-profile bank and fintech relationships.
“We are so impressed with the talent of these entrepreneurs, which has been amplified by their time within the Fintech Accelerator program,” said Andrew Irvine, head of Canadian business banking at BMO. “We look forward to continuing to work with the winners and exploring how we can couple their technologies within the bank’s existing systems and platforms to enhance the customer experience and deliver more industry-leading solutions to market quickly.”
Throughout the four-month incubation period, the fintechs benefitted from a free residency at the DMZ, access to venture capitalists and C-level leaders, inclusion in industry learning sessions and over 60 hours of BMO mentor time.
Viviplan and Fortuna.ai are hoping to one day join the ranks of SecureKey Technologies, Wealthsimple and League, who were included among the top 50 fintech companies in the world by KPMG and H2 Ventures.