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You need the mentorship, tools and capital to turn your idea into reality.

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NEXT Canada brings together industry, academia, government and entrepreneurs to celebrate the launch of its third program, NextAI.

​Why NextAI?

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The ultimate network.

You can't build a great business without the support of a community of other entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and advisors. The Next 36 is backed by over 300 of Canada's top business leaders, who are committed to making Canada more prosperous by supporting promising entrepreneurs like you. Throughout the program, you will have opportunities to meet people who could become clients, investors and connectors for your venture.

The relationships you build during the program last a lifetime. The Next 36 alumni stay in touch with their mentors, start new ventures with their peers, raise new rounds from investors, and develop lasting friendships. Our alumni community will become an important place to go for advice, support and feedback for new ideas.

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​​Complimentary Services from Our Partners

Legal Advice from Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP on topics including: intellectual property, term sheets, human resources and privacy law.

Cloud Hosting from Amazon Web Services (up to $15,000).

Professional services from EY, including help with accounting, finance, media and funding needs.

Work Space during the summer for select ventures, provided by the DMZ.

Software from Mathworks.

Cloud computing from Microsoft BizSpark (up to $10,000 monthly for 12 months).

Why Toronto, Canada?

Not only does Canada’s tech ecosystem consistently punch above its weight, we have government support from all levels and pioneering research funders to back up our efforts. 

Toronto provides a hot spring of local talent, global experts, and top-tier researchers paired with a dedication to civic values that makes it the ideal city to live in while building your AI-enabled business.

​What We Do

NextAI is a global innovation hub for artificial intelligence related venture creation and technology commercialization. We identify talented teams with ambitious ideas and leverage Canada’s leadership position in AI to provide them with the capital, mentorship, education and network to disrupt industries.

NextAI teams have access to up to $200,000 in capital, world-renowned faculty and scientists, a network of Canada’s top business leaders and entrepreneurs, and access to cutting edge AI tools

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​Academic Partners

Frequently asked questions about…




Who should apply to the program?

Anyone who is passionate about solving a problem using AI should apply.  We welcome applicants of all ages, from all countries, from any educational background.  Impress us with your idea, your passion and your skills.

Applicants apply individually and are connected with other finalists to form teams and create their AI-based business idea. You don’t need a team or an idea. Bring us your industry expertise or technical proficiency and choose who you want to work with to move your idea to reality

We are already a team and have a big idea. How do we participate in NextAI?

Each member of your team must first apply as an Individual.  Once all of you have progressed to the Finalist stage, you can complete your Team Application for consideration. You will be accepted to the program as a team.

I have a great idea but no team. Can I apply?

Yes, everyone will apply as an individual. As a Finalist, you will virtually meet other individual applicants and will create a team out of that pool. Each team will need to include a technical member.

I have a great idea, but I'm not technical. Can I apply?

If you have expertise and a big idea in any other domain that can be solved with AI, you can get to know other Finalists and match up with someone technical who is equally passionate about building your idea in to reality.

Can I continue to work at my job while I participate in the program?

No, all participants must be 100% committed to the program and their idea / venture.

Do I have to be in Toronto to participate?

You must be in Toronto for the summer portion of the program from May to September. We encourage all teams to also be in Toronto from February through April.

My venture already has equity funding. Am I eligible for NextAI?

Each application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.  Generally speaking, ventures that have secured private investment are not eligible. Groups that have received non-equity based funding in the form of grants, pitch competitions, etc., are eligible.

Can I participate in another accelerator at the same time as NextAI?


I am an international applicant. What must I do to participate?

Participation in the program by non-Canadian citizens and permanent residents of Canada is contingent on the applicant securing and maintaining appropriate valid legal immigration status in Canada at all times.

Options to consider to help with this process include:

1. International Experience Canada (IEC) programs may be an option for citizens of countries with bilateral agreements with Canada.

2. International Mobility Program

3. There are a number of other circumstances that might be relevant including family and education.  Applicants should consult an immigration professional for assistance.

What does the program offer?

NextAI is a global leader in accelerating AI ventures and ideas.  We provide all teams with:

- $50,000 CAD initial funding up front to help you pay living expenses in Toronto with the potential for a matching $30,000 grant

- Up to an additional $150,000 CAD throughout the program for top performing teams incorporating a venture

- Technical training from leading AI experts

- Work with leading scientists and academics who will challenge your assumptions

- Resources from leading AI technical partners such as IBM, Google, and Microsoft

- Business training from award winning global faculty

- Resources from corporate sponsors including advisors with subject matter expertise relevant to the industry of your venture/idea

- Legal resources to incorporate your venture, help with Intellectual Property

- Work space as needed for the duration of the program

What is the commitment?

All Teams must commit to moving to the Greater Toronto Area for May 1, 2017 and complete the programming through September 2017 (exact date TBD). Teams are strongly encouraged to also be in Toronto from February 1 until end of April.

You will participate in technical curriculum and/or business and founder development curriculum throughout the entire program term. You are required to participate in person in Toronto for one full week of programming February 21-24 (inclusive). Additional programming between February and April will be offered virtually, including assignments, video lectures, and feedback sessions.  Intensive academic programming for both the technical and business streams will be scheduled from May through August.

When you are not participating in NextAI training and development you will be working full-time on your AI idea/venture.

Where will I live during the AI program?

Participants must live in the Greater Toronto Area for summer portion of the program from May 1 until September. It is highly recommend that teams are also in Toronto during the February to April part of the program. We also recommend teams live together to save costs and facilitate full time work on their idea.

What are the costs to participate in the program?

There is no cost to participate.

Is $50,000 enough to get me to Toronto and settle?

Toronto is a metropolitan city. Expect $2500-3000/month per team for 8 months plus living expenses for the duration of the program.

Who are the faculty providing the technical and business training?

Ajay Agrawal – Academic Director, NEXT Canada - Peter Munk Professor of Entrepreneurship, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto 

Kyunghyun Cho - Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, New York University

Sanja Fidler - Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto

Mara Lederman - Director, Research Resources and Centres Associate Professor of Strategic Management, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

Graham Taylor – Academic Director, NextAI, Assistant Professor, School of Engineering, University of Guelph and Azrieli Global Scholar, Learning in Machines & Brains (CIFAR)

Raquel Urtasun - Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto, Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning and Computer Vision

How is this different from Next 36 and Next Founders?

NextAI was created for entrepreneurs and innovators interested in building ventures and commercializing ideas specific to the field of Artificial Intelligence.  We focus on ideas that are pre-investment stage.  We are similar to a traditional accelerator model in that we invest in teams and ideas.

Our other programs are focused on individual entrepreneurs.  The Next 36 is primarily focused on undergraduate students with enormous potential.  Next Founders focuses on developing founders of businesses that already have significant traction – revenue, funding, employees, etc

What happens after the program is over?

Our goal is to see you continue to build your business in Toronto and be an active participant in the NextAI network. We will continue to provide you with development and networking opportunities.

Do you take any equity for the funding? What are the terms?

$50,000 for a SAFE with a $2mm CAP.

Up to an additional $150,000 no CAP, 20% discount to next round

How can we get funded after the program ends?

Industry-specific funding awards will be granted with values of up to $150,000. Top VCs and investors from across North America are involved with NEXT Canada. There will be opportunities to secure funding from them as ventures develop throughout the program, and afterwards, as part of the NextAI network.

Who owns the IP developed within the AI program?

IP created during the NextAI belongs to the company that was created at the beginning of the program.

My university owns part of my IP through my PhD research. Am I eligible to apply to Next AI?

All IP used by the team within their venture has to either be owned by the venture or the company needs a license to use it.

NextAI Program Timeline

October 27
Applications Open

Complete a short online individual application highlighting your team and idea. There is also a video interview component that pre-existing teams can complete as a group.

October 27
Official Launch

Join NextAI and NEXT Canada leadership at the program launch in conjunction with the Rotman Creative Destruction Lab – Machine Learning Conference.  

January 5th
Application Deadline to submit Teams

February 1
Program Begins

Participants arrive in Toronto, teams incorporate and initial funding of $50K per team is distributed.

February to April
NextAI Program Delivery

Technical and business programming delivered, including platform training and access (Google, IBM, Microsoft, etc.). Mentors and scientists matched with teams.

Prototype Day

Ventures present their progress to key stakeholders and additional funding of up to $150K is available.

Summer 2017
Entrepreneurship Institute

Optional participation in founder development programming. Optional participation in founder development programming. See courses and faculty here

Throughout the Summer
Exclusive Events

You’ll be invited to multiple networking events, where you will have the opportunity to meet investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders with the potential to transform your idea into a viable business.

September 15
AI Venture Day

Present your idea in front of investors, corporate stakeholders and AI domain experts

Alumni Involvement

Join the growing NEXT Canada Alumni Community, attend events and pursue follow-on Funding Opportunities

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Meet NEXT Network and Alumni

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Read our latest tweets

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