All you need to know

Target group and fields supported

  • Type of program: postdoctoral funding to support research and development conducted to create a business enterprise (startup) based on the applicant’s prior doctoral or postdoctoral research.
  • Target areas: This program will support planned startups in the field of digital intelligence in its broad senses: data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence, operations research, and data-driven innovation. Priority will be given to innovative product and service development initiatives based on potentially disruptive scientific advances with significant commercialization potential. Applications combining machine learning and operations research will have an advantage.
  • Responsibilities: Next AI or another entrepreneurship support organization connected to IVADO will oversee the entrepreneurship component. An academic supervisor will oversee the scientific component of the program.


The goals of this program are to:

  • Enable the fellowship recipient to complete a marketable prototype of their research along with proof of concept, and take entrepreneurship training. One or more mentors from the business sector will also work with the recipient to help draft their business plan, find partners, and secure initial funding. The business proposal should be in the digital intelligence sector, ideally in one of the IVADO areas of excellence: operations research, machine learning, or decision science.
  • Encourage young researchers to invest in Montréal to develop new businesses based on scientific advances.


  • Deadline for submitting documents: October 19, 2020
  • Date of notice that an application has been accepted for evaluation: November 2, 2020
  • Interviews with chosen candidates: week of November 9, 2020
  • Funding award notification date: November 16, 2020
  • Funding start date: between January 1 and June 1, 2021

Amounts, duration and terms of payment

Amounts and duration

  • Each fellowship is for the amount of $70,000 per year (including benefits and taxes) for a period of 12 months. The funding agreement will set out project milestones and the funding recipient’s progress will be assessed periodically. The funding will initially be awarded for a period of 12 months and may be extended by 6 months, for an additional $35,000, according to the recipient’s progress.
  • A maximum amount of $30,000 will be awarded to the recipient to fund expenses incurred to attain the project objectives.

Terms of payment

  • The applicant must have submitted their doctoral thesis by the funding start date.
  • The applicant must be eligible to register as a postdoctoral fellow at the supervisor’s institution on the funding start date.
  • An intellectual property (IP) agreement must be signed before the funding start date (see note below regarding IP for information on the key principles that will apply).

Eligibility criteria

/!\ The candidate and his/her supervisor must be from the same institution.

For the candidate

  • You have earned a doctorate within two years prior to the application submission, or expect to earn your doctorate within six months following the date the competition results are announced;
  • Some flexibility will be granted in the case of applicants who provide adequate explanation for a career interruption or particular circumstances. Please include this explanation (e.g., parental leave, sick leave) in your application;
  • You hold a significant share in the business you founded or co-founded.

For the professor (supervisor)

  • You must be a faculty member at one of the Campus Montréal institutions: HEC Montréal, Polytechnique Montréal or Université de Montréal;
  • If you are a faculty member at the University of Alberta or McGill University, you may be a supervisor provided that you are also a full member of one of our research groups (Mila, CIRRELT, GERAD, CERC in Data Science for Real-Time Decision- Making, CRM, Tech3Lab);
  • If you meet the preceding criteria and are the PhD candidate’s thesis director or co-director, you are also eligible.

Submitting an application

Apply by email to [email protected]!
/!\ If your submission file does not meet the requested length, your submission will be automatically disqualified.

The application package must include the following three components:

  • A cover letter (maximum three pages, single-spaced, in 10-point Century Gothic) including the following:
    – A description of the product to be developed as part of the fellowship (including its innovative aspects). The applicant must explain the work that has been / will be done as part of their doctoral studies and that remaining to be completed during the fellowship period to achieve at least a functional prototype ready for testing by a client. The applicant must provide a draft working plan demonstrating the feasibility of producing a prototype during the funding period.
    – An explanation of the target market for the product, the need that it addresses, and any interest already expressed by a potential client (include a contact at that company). Are there similar products on the market? If yes, how will the product developed differ from existing ones? What disruptive impact will it have on the market?
    – An explanation of the reasons motivating the applicant to become an entrepreneur and any relevant experience they possess.
    – Any additional information deemed relevant to the application.
  • A CV detailing the applicant’s academic and extracurricular activities.
  • A letter of support from the professor who will be supervising the postdoctoral fellowship.

Evaluation of applications

  1. Quality of the project (50%)
    • Originality and anticipated commercial impacts of the project;
    • Feasibility of prototype development and relevance of the host laboratory and supervisor;
    • Alignment of the project with the Canada First program guidelines.
  1. Application package (40%)
    • Quality of the applicant’s PhD thesis and academic excellence;
    • Applicant’s entrepreneurial qualities, motivation to develop a business, extent and scope of experience (e.g., multidisciplinary, professional, extracurricular), and knowledge of the project’s business area.
  1. Alignment of the project with the IVADO framework and the Canada First / Apogée program (10%)
    • Promotion of multidisciplinary collaboration;
    • Contribution to diversity.

Applications will be evaluated by a review committee made up of 1) at least one representative of an organization providing support to entrepreneurs (e.g., accelerator, incubator); 2) one representative from the start-up investor community; and 3) one member of the academic community. The committee will be chaired by the IVADO entrepreneurship research advisor.

/!\ Application packages that do not comply with the length stipulated will be rejected.

Note regarding intellectual property

Note on the basic intellectual property (IP) principles applicable to the work undertaken as part of this program. This policy has been approved by HEC, École Polytechnique and Université de Montréal.

The basic principles are as follows:

  1. The objective is to create a business enterprise based on the results of the project led by the postdoctoral fellow, which constitutes an applied research initiative. The results and intellectual property (IP) stemming from the project may be fully owned by the business enterprise once it is created (i.e., when the project’s technological outcomes and the fellow’s entrepreneurial qualities are sufficiently realized to support the business plan). This means that the Institution shall retain the IP rights until the business enterprise is created. Doing so prevents the need to implement a rights transfer process should the results not support the start-up process. In such cases, the Institution has no counterpart in the assignment of the IP rights. Should the IP rights not be assigned, they shall be jointly retained according to the institutional policies in effect for future marketing purposes.
  2. Should the postdoctoral project be based on pre-existing IP, the new business enterprise must obtain the rights to develop the pre-existing IP according to the standard technology transfer process. Doing so will ensure fair returns for those who contributed to the pre-existing IP with regard to the IP that the fellow will develop. In most cases, the more generic and cross-cutting findings will remain the property of the Institution in order to enable the pursuit of research in the academic context. These findings may be published and, if useful, the business enterprise may be granted a free licence agreement.
  3. Any other major contributions to the fellow’s project (e.g., by the supervisor, other students, other research funding programs) shall be subject to specific agreements prior to the start of the project.


Our commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion

To ensure all members of society draw equal benefit from the advancement of knowledge and opportunities in digital intelligence, we promote principles of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion across all of our programs, and we commit to providing a recruitment process and research setting that are inclusive, non-discriminatory, open, and transparent.

Have a question? Contact us! [email protected]