The Canadian Export Challenge goes digital to support Entrepreneurs amid COVID-19

May 11th, 2020, OttawaThis September, UPS, the Trade Commissioner Service and Export Development Canada are collaberating with Startup Canada along with Mastercard and Scotiabank, to present the first nationwide, fully-digital pitch competition for Canadian exporters powered by Google Canada

Currently, COVID-19 has put entrepreneurs across the globe in an unprecedented position of uncertainty. Given border closures and the international response to this pandemic, the export community is navigating uncharted territory. This year, in addition to its historical elements, the Canadian Export Challenge (CXC) will aim to be a space for Canadian exporters and industry partners to come together and provide support to each other, as we all navigate the resulting export environment. These Global Accelerators will combine a series of livestream presentations, breakout sessions, a virtual growth lounge, interactive learning—in addition to a digital pitch competition. 

In response to feedback from past participants, this year’s competition will have two categories—startups and scale-ups. “We want to make sure that participants are competing with companies at similar stages of growth,” said Kayla Isabelle, Executive Director of Startup Canada. 

Entrepreneurs in both categories will complete their first-round pitches via online video submission. “In spite of limitations presented by COVID-19, we’re excited about CXC’s new digital format,” said Isabelle. “We’re no longer limited by geography, so we’re excited to be able to connect with entrepreneurs who haven’t been able to participate in past CXCs.”

Although the event format will differ from past years, the competition will still take place regionally in September. In each region, entrepreneurs will be pitching to win $5,000 (scale-up category), $2,500 (startup category), and a chance to win up to $25,000 and up to an additional $100,000 in in-kind scaling support at the Grand Finale in October. 

The free events are open to attend for all Canadian entrepreneurs, and anyone interested in learning more about the Canadian export ecosystem. Each 1-day Global Accelerator will offer opportunities to learn from and connect with Canada’s global expansion support providers and gain privileged access to market intelligence, and a partner network to help them grow. 

“UPS Canada remains strongly focused on supporting Canadian entrepreneurs and in these unprecedented times, while businesses of all sizes are feeling the impact, many small to medium sized businesses may need the most help in trying to adapt and navigate,” says Paul Gaspar, director of small business at UPS Canada. “We are excited to partner with Startup Canada on CXC’s new digital format as it gives us an opportunity to help businesses to adapt to the new normal.”   

“Export Development Canada (EDC) is proud to be a partner for Startup Canada’s Canadian Export Challenge once again, particularly during such a critical time for Canada and Canadian entrepreneurs,” said Mairead Lavery, President, and CEO at Export Development Canada. “Our purpose is to help Canadian businesses navigate the winding roads of global markets. When unpredictable obstacles arise, that’s where we can provide extra guidance and relief to Canadian companies. EDC has been granted expanded capabilities until December 2021 to support and develop domestic business. Through partnerships like this one, we will help more entrepreneurs obtain access to the knowledge, financial support and community they need to sustain and to grow their businesses in the face of COVID-19,” said Lavery.

“Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service has been helping exporters succeed abroad for 125 years. Now, more than ever, we are here to support Canadian businesses, which is why we are proud to work with Startup Canada on the Canadian Export Challenge again this year”, said Ailish Campbell, Canada’s Chief Trade Commissioner. “Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the Canadian economy, and we have the programs, services and international on-the-ground network to help them navigate the world and global customers.”

“For Canadian businesses of all sizes, the web provides an opportunity to reach potential customers at home and globally,” says Sabrina Geremia, VP and Country Manager at Google Canada. “The Canadian Export Challenge will equip participants with the digital tools and skills needed to grow, adapt, and seize the export opportunity, which is more important than ever.”

Entrepreneurs are invited to apply through video submissions starting June 1st, 2020.  Visit for tips on how to prepare for your pitch or to learn more about CXC 2020.

For more information please contact:

Micah Rakoff Bellman
Marketing & Communications Manager
613-627-0787 ext. 103

About Startup Canada

Startup Canada is Canada’s entrepreneurship organization. Startup Canada promotes and supports the success and growth of Canada’s 3.5 million entrepreneurs, with a mandate to foster economic growth, competitiveness, and prosperity through entrepreneurship. Since launching, Startup Canada’s programming has directly supported more than 200,000 entrepreneurs and 50 grassroots Startup Community organizations. Working with over 750 ecosystem partners, including accelerators, incubators, research parks, educational institutions, economic development agencies, associations, and government programs, Startup Canada serves entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, industries, and stages of development, with a network reflective of Canada’s diverse population. Learn more at 

About UPS

UPS (NYSE: UPS) is a global leader in logistics, offering a broad range of solutions including transporting packages and freight; facilitating international trade, and deploying advanced technology to more efficiently manage the world of business. Headquartered in Atlanta, UPS serves more than 220 countries and territories worldwide. The company can be found on the web at and its corporate blog can be found at To get UPS news direct, follow @UPS_Canada on Twitter.

About EDC

Export Development Canada (EDC) is a financial Crown corporation dedicated to helping Canadian companies of all sizes succeed on the world stage. As international risk experts, we equip Canadian companies with the tools they need – the trade knowledge, financing solutions, equity, insurance, and connections – to grow their business with confidence. Underlying all our support is a commitment to sustainable and responsible business. To help Canadian businesses facing extreme financial challenges brought on by the global response to COVID-19, the Government of Canada has expanded EDC’s domestic capabilities until December 31, 2021. This broader mandate will enable EDC to expand its support to companies focused domestically. For more information and to learn how we can help your company, call us at 1-800-229-0575 or visit

About the Trade Commissioner Service

For 125 years, the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) has been helping Canadian businesses grow by connecting them with international opportunities, funding and support programs, and our network of Trade Commissioners in 160+ cities worldwide. The TCS helps Canadian businesses gain market insight, find new opportunities and key contacts, and resolve business problems, to make better, timelier decisions. For more information, connect with the TCS online at, as well as through Facebook, Twitter, and

About Google Canada

Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.  As a global technology leader, Google’s innovations in web search and advertising have made its website a top internet property and its brand one of the most recognized in the world. Google Canada has offices in Waterloo, Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa with over 1,500 Canadian Google employees working on teams across Engineering, AI Research, Sales and Marketing.

Bridget O'Shaughnessy

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