We nurture and develop multidisciplinary startup teams that harness emerging tech to create businesses with global impact. We look for the brightest of minds and we offer the most rigorous training. We bridge the knowledge, skills and resource gap between building a product and building a company.
District 3 came into being when Montreal’s startup ecosystem was in its infancy, from the beginning we did things differently. We focus on advancing an open, collaborative ecosystem that enables entrepreneurs to thrive and succeed. Our programs and services are open to all. We represent a diversity of cultures, backgrounds and ideas – fostering innovation and a global mindset.
We take no equity.
We are the difference between a founder with an idea and a successful team ready to make a global impact.
Co-founder and Executive Director of District 3
Where To Find us
We are based at Concordia University in Montreal, a place for experiential learning where the big questions are being asked and creative thinking is harnessed to address them. It’s a place focused on the future not the past, it’s home to the dreamers, the doers, the tech pioneers and social disruptors of tomorrow. We share Concordia’s DNA and commitment to excellence and a belief that what we create here should have a global reach.
Districts evolve within cities when like-minded people congregate to share skills and form communities.
District 3 Innovation Hub, Montreal
Headquartered in the heart of downtown Montreal, District 3’s co-working space has office space for startups, private meeting rooms, a phone booth, and a design lab for prototyping including 3D printers, laser cutters, and electronic components.
NYC Hub, New York
In the heart of NYC’s financial district, the NYCHub offers a co-working space in partnership with DMZ Ryerson and I-Inc Network and access to community events through our partner, Ellis Accelerator. Join our programs to access a network of government and industry experts in the US and abroad.
Bio Hub, Loyola Campus, Montreal
The first of its kind in Canada, the BioHub provides state-of-the-art dry and wet laboratories, a co-working space and exposure to an interdisciplinary network of experts to help you develop successful products based on scientific discoveries and ideas. Located on the first floor of Concordia’s Applied Sciences Hub.
Our Coaches & Mentors
Co-director of District 3
JD Bégin is a venture capitalist turned entrepreneur and angel investor. As head coach at District 3, Bégin helps founders find product market-fit, grow their key metrics, and secure financing. Having previously worked as a growth advisor and mentor to firms such as VM6 Software Inc., Techstars and Traction Ventures, Bégin leverages more than 15 years experience to uniquely equip startups with the tools they need to grow into successful enterprises. Bégin holds an MBA from Concordia University, as well as a bachelors of Business Administration in accounting and finance from UQAM.
Social Innovation Coach, District 3
Jonathan Chaloux was the former Manager of Culture at l’Esplanade, an accelerator and collaborative workspace specializing in entrepreneurship and social innovation, as well as co-founder of Coworking Québec. Passionate about social impact and the mechanisms to create it, he works collaboratively with ecosystem players and enjoys making connections to accelerate the development of social projects.
Senior Coach, Healthcare Stream Lead
With a wealth of international experience in taking ideas to market—always at the dynamic intersection of where entrepreneurship and experiential learning meet—Edna Chosack, M.Sc., MBA, is the Healthcare Stream lead and Senior Coach at District 3.
As the co-founder and VP, Strategic Marketing at Simbionix Inc., Edna co-built the company into an international surgical-simulation leader, becoming internationally recognized as one of a few experts who leverage medical-simulation experiential learning into business success stories. 3D Systems acquired the company for $120M USD.
In Montreal, she established and served as Director of CAE’s surgical-simulation business line. She was a member of the advisory committee at McGill University’s Steinberg Centre for Simulation and Interactive Learning. She held her consultancy services for private internationals in the US, Europe & China, as well as for Canadian customers such as the Canadian National Research Council.
Social Innovation Coach, District 3
Communication, marketing and digital expert, Marie Custeau took a leap into the entrepreneurial world in 2015 by creating Énamour – a skincare brand that is sold in several countries both on its e-commerce platform and in B2B. Sharing is at the heart of Énamour, which donates one percent of its revenues to the Women’s Centre of Montreal.
For the past 15 years, Marie has also managed digital projects on the client-side, with Radio-Canada and others, and with agencies like Cossette in Montreal and McCann in Sydney, Australia, where she lived for 3 years. Marie is particularly interested in the areas of customer experience and brand image. She is also very sensitive to the aspects of corporate culture and values and well-being at work.
Marie studied public relations at the University of Montreal and museology techniques at Cégep Montmorency. She recently took a course on sustainable management at Université Laval.
Fintech Fellow, Fintech Cadence
Layial El-Hadi is the Executive Director of Fintech Cadence, an organization that aims to create startups that will help solve the financial industry’s problems through the integration of technology. She is also a professor for the Centre for Engineering in Society at Concordia University.
Her past experience includes serving as the Chief Financial Officer at Apisen; a small business based in Montréal that built security and safety products for law enforcement and emergency responders. Layial has worked in sustainability consulting, impact investment, and non-profit management. She is an avid traveller and has had the opportunity to work in various emerging and developed markets including Qatar, Jordan, India, Hong Kong, and Canada. Layial holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Urban Studies and an MBA from Concordia University.
With over 15 years of racing experience, Kevin Ferah has developed an essential link between engineering theory and practice. Kevin cofounded BEEM, an automotive technology company, in 2014. He brings expertise in sales, commercialization, and product engineering. Along with his co-founder, they have successfully scaled their startup BEEM. BEEM is a data automation platform helping businesses unlock the power of their data. Their product Fleet, is a leading loaner car management software helping car dealerships across Canada eliminate expenses and generate revenue with our proven process and technology. Kevin holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the École de technologie supérieur.
Co-Founder, Lean for Flourishing
Combining experience with her strong entrepreneurial skills and ability to build successful enterprises in emerging markets, Ondine has always aimed to affect positive change within her community and industry through business. She is a highly creative and innovative business developer and strategist, having started six successful organizations over two decades. Ondine can turn ideas into revenue generating socially focused businesses and has successfully managed this process from creation to established entity.
Ondine is the co-founder of Lean4Flourishing, a social enterprise focused on designing Flourishing Business Model Innovation accelerators, incubators, and startup programs. She is a social impact coach at District 3, Concordia University, providing specialized coaching, mentorship and development of social enterprises. In addition to District 3, Ondine in heavily involved in the startup ecosystem, providing coaching and mentoring for several notable organizations such as: Innoweave Social Enterprise Coach, LEF Business Mentor, Futrepreneur Mentor, Startup Weekend mentor, McGill Dobson Cup judge Mentor, SLASA mentor, InnoCite MTL Mentor, Startup Day Canada Mentor, YES Montreal Mentor.
Social Innovation Coach, District 3
Julie Hamel (MBA) is a senior business advisor with over 25 years of experience. She began her career as an entrepreneur before becoming a social economy advisor in 2006. She successfully managed many fast-food franchises through the 90s before becoming the general manager of a major private non-profit golf course. Her range of expertise includes among others, marketing, operations, and business development. For the past ten years, her social preoccupation has led her to invest most of her time and energy in the field of social economy, including helping dozens of non-profit organizations. Julie has been involved with Concordia’s District 3 since 2015 as the Social Entrepreneurship Coach.
Innovation Enabler, Concordia for now
Xavier-Henri Hervé has a 25 years track record for transforming strategic plans for innovations into business on an international scale. An engineer, Hervé leverages 20 years of experience in several technologies and engineering intensive domains such as aviation, information systems, simulation, and green tech, at Mechtronix, Oracle Corporation, CAE Electronics and Bombardier. Hervé enjoys a worldwide network built in over fifty countries. In 2011, Hervé was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Concordia University’s Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science. He holds an MBA from INSEAD, as well as a bachelor of engineering degree in Mechanical Engineering from Concordia University.
Director, AI Commons
Gilles Fayad spent his entire career launching new products. His track record has been to move up the food chain to successfully solve one problem after the other, and in doing so he acquired a broad technical expertise, managerial acumen, and international exposure. He is deeply fascinated with the impact of technology on society, complex mathematical problems, deep learning, reinforcement learning, and the relationship between form and function in design. If you cannot find him sailing or diving, you can lure him with a coffee into a game of chess, Go, or simply in a discussion on reinventing the world.
Alexandre Lataille is driven by a true passion for automotive technologies that have always pushed him to innovate. As the CEO and Cofounder of BEEM, an auto tech company, he is focusing on reinventing the way we interact within the automotive ecosystem, starting with the customer, the vehicle, the dealership and the manufacturer.
Prior to founding BEEM, Alexandre specialized in data-driven automotive product development, business processes and analytics. He managed projects to the highest industry standards, with a tenacity that saw him rise swiftly in the ranks of Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP), a leading recreational products manufacturer. Alexandre started his career as a testing engineer for the Volvo Group, where he realized his passion for a data-driven approach to problem solving and product development, which he applies to BEEM today.
Chief Scientific Officer
Vincent Martin is an Associate Professor in Microbiology in the Department of Biology at Concordia University and holds the Canada Research Chair in Microbial Genomics and Engineering. He obtained a B.Sc. in Microbiology from McGill University (1989), an M.Sc. in Environmental Biology from the University of Guelph (1993) and a PhD in Microbiology from the University of British Columbia (1999) under the supervision of Dr. Bill Mohn, where he elucidated the metabolic pathway for plant diterpene biodegradation in Pseudomonas. His post-doctoral studies were performed with Dr. Jay Keasling at the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, where he engineered E. coli for over-production of isoprenoids. In 2003, he joined the Physical Biosciences Division of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The same year, with help from a $43 million grant from the Gates Foundation, he co-founded Amyris Biotechnologies where he currently serves as a scientific advisor.
In 2004, he joined Concordia University as an Assistant Professor, Vincent Martin’s interests are focused on the metabolic engineering of microbes for the degradation of plant biomass and the production of commodity and high value chemicals. He is the project co-leader for a recently funded $13.6 million Genome Canada grant aimed at the commercial production of high-value plant metabolites in microbial fermentation systems. Vincent Martin is also the fermentation theme leader for the AAFC Cellulosic Biofuels and the NSERC Bioconversion Networks. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Canadian Journal of Microbiology, Bioengineered Bugs and the Water, Air and Soil Pollution journal.
Coach, District 3
Louis has a 20+ years track record of helping emerging and growing technology and media companies propel their business to the next level. An experienced operator, Louis can help businesses meet short-term revenue targets while building longer-term growth capabilities. Louis is particularly experienced in sales management, marketing, partnerships, M&A, and general operations.
Louis started his career as a commercial attorney in a leading Canadian law firm, advising high technology and biotechnology companies in areas such as mergers and acquisitions, corporate financing, and partnerships. With this experience and an MBA, Louis made the move to business operations early on and never looked back, rapidly progressing through the ranks of established and growing international tech companies, including Open Text, Bell Canada, Softvoyage, k-eCommerce, and mdf commerce.
Louis holds a master’s in business administration (MBA) from the École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Montreal (1996), a bachelor’s degree in law (Ll.b.) from the University of Montreal (1993), and is a member of the Quebec Bar (1994).
Global Managing Partner, Quadbridge
Ryan Peters is an experienced founder and managing partner with a demonstrated track record of entrepreneurship and an ability to scale companies for over 10 years. His company, Quadbridge Inc. is a leading-edge, full-service IT Solution partner that specializes in hardware and software supply to medium and large enterprise clients in both the U.S. and Canada. Ryan has strategic advisory and general operational expertise, and strong business development experience with an understanding of International Socio-Economic Development, including NAFTA, E.U., Mid-East, and Asia. Ryan holds a bachelor’s degree in political science.
Life Sciences Fellow & Biohub Manager, District 3
Mahzad Sharifahmadian is the Life Sciences Fellow and Biohub Manager at District 3. She empowers life sciences researchers to bring their research to market, and has built a network of research experts for collaboration and co-creation to solve societal and industry challenges.
She holds a Ph.D. in Biochemistry & Molecular Medicine from Université de Montréal, with expertise and publications on the design and development of novel drugs for antibiotic-resistant infections. While finishing her Ph.D., she co-founded Rubisco, a biotech company offering point-of-care diagnosis of pathogens (dissolved in 2018).
Co-director of District 3
Jane Somerville, MBA is the Director of Programs at Concordia University’s District 3. In this role, she is responsible for leading and developing the program offering targeted to entrepreneurs building startups. Jane is a passionate business professional with more than 25 years of experience working with Canadian entrepreneurs. Prior to joining D3, Jane worked at BDC where she helped small, medium and large companies across Canada, across all industry sectors, building and delivering innovative advisory services in strategic management, digital marketing and sales management. As an entrepreneur herself, Jane founded an online directory of furniture and furniture stores in major Canadian cities.
Consultant, Co-op Interface
Eric Steedman has over 20 years experience as a consultant and entrepreneur, having developed, launched and managed a variety of projects, both for and non-profit. Eric’s expertise is largely focused on solving business challenges, including business planning, market research, and organizational and financing strategies. A big-picture thinker with a keen eye for detail, Eric is never afraid to dig deep for the key answers to client’s questions. Known for his big smile and polite charm, Eric works closely with clients to see their visions of impactful and innovative projects come to fruition. After starting his career in responsible investment management in New York City, Eric returned to Montreal to complete an MBA at McGill. Eric holds an M.Phil in politics from the University of Glasgow, and a Honours BA in political science from Carleton University in Ottawa.
Co-Owner, DX Consultant
Daniel Stoll has always strived to design and develop products that bring delightful customer experiences, to have products sell themselves. He has a track record of galvanizing innovation and creating go-to-market strategies based on a product-led growth approach, providing value to customers by shortening time to value. His work has been recognized for shortening the sales cycle significantly in complex sales. Daniel holds a Master’s degree in Telecommunications Engineering from the École d’ingénieurs du numérique.
AI Fellow & Co-Founder, District 3
Sydney is a Montreal native with a strong desire to grow the Montreal innovation ecosystem. Having completed his studies in Psychology, Business, and Computer Science he developed a strong passion for emerging technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation.
In 2012, Sydney became one of the co-founders of District 3 and has played an active role ever since. His responsibilities include managing a program to help Montreal teams participating in the AI XPRIZE, an international competition that asks teams to solve grand challenges using Artificial Intelligence. Having got a taste for innovation and technology, Sydney also co-founded NeuroTechX, a non-profit organization that has built the largest network of international neurotechnology enthusiasts. In his spare time, Sydney is a core organizer of the DEF CON Biohacking Village, as well as is a mentor for the Mozilla Open Leadership Program.