Montreal’s Notman House enters final funding stage

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By Francis Moran Montreal's Notman House

For the past couple of years, with more than a little envy that we haven’t a similar facility here in Ottawa, I have been watching Notman House in Montreal slowly coalesce as a critical locus for that city’s startup, entrepreneur and diverse geek, maker and hacker communities.

For those not familiar with Notman, it’s a rambling old rabbit warren of a place that was built in the mid-1800s and, until 1991, was operated as a hospital for the terminally ill. More recently, the OSMO Foundation, a group of community-minded people, has opened the house up to the broader startup community. In the last year alone, the house has hosted more than 125 events, including user group meet-ups hackathons, and learning events, been home to over 50 startups, and been visited by over 10,000 entrepreneurs, investors, students and others involved in the growing Montreal tech scene. The OSMO Foundation has been trying to raise the funds necessary to build and refurbish both the main building and a large, even more dilapidated, brick building behind it, and operate them as a not-for-profit hub for Montreal’s startup community. This week, they announced they are within $100,000 of completing their fundraising goal, and they’re asking for community support to get them over the finish line.

A total of $1.7 million has been secured in grants from the municipal, provincial, and federal government along with a $4.3 million loan committed by Investissement Quebec and the Business Development Bank of Canada. However, to access these sums, OSMO needed to raise $1.1 million in private contributions, and $1 million has been pledged by corporate entities such as Teralys Capital, Claridge, Telesystem, McCarthy Tetrault, and Fasken Martineau. That leaves a $100,000 shortfall, and a fundraising campaign to raise this sum has been initiated on indiegogo.

I encourage all our readers in Montreal — and even those outside the city who want to secure a home for the startup community and a drop-in space for themselves when they visit the city — to support this project. The funds will be used to buy the buildings and for renovations that will double the amount of office space for early-stage startups, double the capacity for the event space, and build a brand new, more accessible, fully functional cafe open to the public. All profits from rental income generated by Notman House will be ploughed back into the community, meaning that Notman, to quote an email I received this week, “not only houses startups but it also ensures that those startups, whether they succeed or fail in their businesses, are helping the next generation of startups.”

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