A cohort of 20 projects with socio-environmental impact, driven by audacity and the desire to take action

Montreal, December 9, 2021—The Maison de l’innovation sociale (MIS) has announced the 20 projects selected for the next cohort of its Civic Incubator, a free coaching program that supports positive-impact initiatives in their ideation or validation phase. This new cohort stands out for its notions of solidarity, for its inclusiveness in addressing diverse realities—with projects centering on seniors, vulnerable youth, and Indigenous people, among others—and for its ability to integrate environmental and social impact. Together, the members of this cohort confirm not only Montrealers’ extraordinary potential for innovation and willingness to take action, but also the relevance of providing structured support, as the Civic Incubator does, for the progression from idea to impact.

Selected for their potential impact as well as for innovative approaches that complement existing initiatives in the ecosystem, the winning projects* captured the interest of a jury whose diversity of profiles and expertise greatly enriched the selection process. The MIS team would like to thank the members of the jury** for their time and generosity in reviewing and evaluating so many applications.

A unique program attracting participants of diverse backgrounds and expertise

As of the completion of this cohort’s term, a total of some sixty MIS projects will have been launched—by citizens, collectives, social entrepreneurs, and NPOs—since the Civic Incubator’s inaugural program in the fall of 2018! This is proof that the need for support at the embryonic stage of projects is real.

Hugo Steben, Director of Social Entrepreneurship at MIS, explains: “There are indeed few options in Quebec for projects at this stage and with this aim. Above all, there are few support options for people who want to develop an impact project but who aren’t necessarily driven by a motivation that is purely ‘business.’ Also, we welcome people with atypical backgrounds and with training, professional, and life experiences that are very diverse. This is another thing that makes MIS special! A wealth of perspectives and knowledge is one of the pillars of the program. It strengthens the potential impact of the projects we support, as well as the capacity of the members of the cohort to act as agents of change.”

A hybrid format as a winning condition for the incubation of projects with strong potential for impact

Awardees in the new cohort will develop their projects during a five-month program that includes training, practical workshops, mentoring, and group and individual coaching. These activities will help them clarify and validate their concept, refine their project’s impact strategy, and prepare to deploy it in the Montreal area. All of this will take place within the framework of a hybrid format.

“The pandemic showed us the advantages of offering a support program in a mode that allows people to develop a project without risking everything at the start-up stage. Unlike the acceleration phase, where project holders are in ‘execution’ mode, the incubation phase allows space for reflection and stepping back. The hybrid mode is beneficial to this winning condition. Further, we have found that a happy medium between distance and face-to-face modes helps participants maintain their daily professional or academic obligations—as does the fact that the course is offered at no cost. This healthy risk-management approach means there is one less barrier between an idea with strong potential for impact and its implementation,” says Steben.

A free program funded by key partners

MIS would like to thank the Ville de Montréal, the Mirella and Lino Saputo Foundation, the McConnell Foundation, and BMO, all of whom are renewing their funding this year to allow cohort winners to participate in the program at no cost. This collaboration among the philanthropic, public, and private sectors is all the more innovative and effective because it allows us simultaneously to support the emergence of new ideas and to bolster their impact.

A partnership has also been established with Les Offices jeunesse internationaux du Québec (LOJIQ) to provide a lump-sum participation allowance to participants who meet their program criteria.

*Meet the 2022 cohort
Read about the 20 winning projects, visit the 2022 cohort page on the MIS website and follow its members’ progress in the news section.

**Members of the 2022 cohort jury

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