About Startup Global

What is it?

Startup Global connects a pan-Canadian cohort of entrepreneurs wanting to build global businesses with a network of international ecosystem partners dedicated to their success. This free, annual flagship program recognizes the importance that exporting plays on the Canadian economy, celebrates those making waves in the global marketplace, and empowers early stage founders to take their businesses to the international stage.

What can you expect?

Throughout the year, beginning in March, Startup Canada will be hosting several live webinars, a Startup Global pitch competition, and exclusive in-kind help to support your journey to exporting. All of our Startup Global tools and resources can be accessed for free through the Startup Global portal.

What’s New in 2023?

Exclusive support to grow your business

We’re ringing in 2023 with the addition of in-kind business support for all Startup Global portal registrants. With even more partnerships confirmed for this year, you’ll have access to key export resources, tools, and networks to help grow your business!

Ask the Experts

All Startup Global portal registrants can schedule 1:1 “Ask the Expert” closed-door sessions with our array of public and private sector partners for tailored solutions and advice for your exporting questions and challenges, using the Mentorly platform. Through Mentorly, Global Pitch participants will have the opportunity to practice pitch competition techniques and get real-time feedback from other entrepreneurs as well as pitch coaches.

Made just for you

We’re committed to supporting you at every point of your journey to go global! That’s why we’ve updated and enhanced our clear step-by-step portal guide, which will take you through the fundamental stages of exporting. This exporters’ journey map will provide an overview for those new to exporting, and a refresher for the entrepreneurs who are continuing their export journey. 

A look inside the portal

Whether you want to participate in our Startup Global Pitch Competition, register for a webinar, or meet with expert advisors for support, the Startup Global Portal is your resource gateway to make your business ready to enter the global market!

In the portal, you’ll have access to a straightforward step-by-step map of an entrepreneur’s export journey. Early stage entrepreneurs can continue to easily navigate through the exporting process and find content specific to your needs.

Register Now

Startup Global 2023

Pitch Competition

We’re excited about our 2023 Startup Global Pitch Competition to help you grow your business for the world. This year, we are offering two ways to participate in the Startup Global Pitch Competition - virtually, through our general online application process or in-person at one of our Startup Canada Tour locations!

Voting is now open for the People's Choice Award! Voting closes October 24, 2023.

Vote for People's Choice Award

New this year! Entrepreneurs are invited to participate at the Startup Global “Pop-up” Pitch Competition as part of the Startup Canada Tour, an in-person opportunity to win a cash prize of $3,000 at one of our below Tour stops. Registration for “Wild Card” applications at our last two stops in Calgary and Brampton are open starting July 27. In-person pitchers will have two minutes to pitch verbally (no pitch deck) to a panel of judges followed by two minutes of Q&A from the judges.

We’ll be stopping in:

  • Calgary (Wild Card West): Thursday, September 28 at BMO Centre at Stampede Park – Applications for our Calgary Pop-up Pitch are now closed. 
  • Brampton (Wild Card East): Thursday, October 26 – Applications open from July 27 – October 12 (or until spaces fill up)!

To participate in an in-person Startup Global “Pop-up” Pitch Competition at a Tour stop near you, fill out the in person pitch application (located in the Startup Global portal) and then you’ll receive a special promo code to register for the Tour stop you’d like to attend at www.startupcanadatour.ca.

The winner from each Tour stop will win a $3,000 cash prize on the day plus a guaranteed spot in the Startup Global Top 10 Grand Finale, which will take place in Brampton, Ontario on October 26, 2023.

For 2023, pitch competition applications will be open only to startups (businesses with less than $1,000,000 in revenue or who have no current sales as of April 11 2023) and that have business/operations in Canada. Applications must show intent and/or ability to export and go global.

Applications will be assessed with the following guidelines: Target market, objective, solution, leadership, traction (if any), competition, and ability to go global.

The Startup Global 2023 Pitch Competition has an overall cash prize pool of $70,000 to help grow your business. See below for prize allocation:

  • $30,000 – First Place
  • $15,000 – Second Place
  • $7,500 – Third Place
  • $3,000 – First Place Startup Canada Tour Pitch Pop-Ups (five awards in total)
  • $2,500 – People’s Choice Award 

An opportunity to vote for your favourite business! Voting will happen throughout the month of October. Keep an eye on our socials for details in late September.

The virtual applications for Startup Canada Global Pitch Competition are now closed.

Exclusive in-kind support

All Startup Global Portal registrants will be given exclusive in-kind support from our partners and sponsors to help with your overall professional development! Furthermore, as a Global Pitch participant, you’ll have access to insightful sessions with experts and practical pitch practices with real-time feedback.

Meet the Partners: Entrepreneurs Going Global Series

We will host a series of topic focused sessions with some of our key partners, providing you with an opportunity to network directly with each partner, learn more about how they can help your business, and gain actionable advice that can help you in your exporting journey.

Pitch Building Practice

We will partner with support organizations to provide more opportunities for our Global Pitch participants to practice their pitches, including real-time feedback sessions from pitch experts.

1:1 Ask the Expert Support

Get exclusive access to 1:1 expert advisors from a range of industries and backgrounds, who will help you prepare for the Startup Global Pitch Competition and get your business export ready. The 30-minute sessions can be booked on a first-come, first-served basis and are dependent on the schedule and availability of the experts between March and November.

Live webinars

Need help understanding the exporting process for your business? Throughout the year, we’ll host a series of Startup Global webinars that will walk you through the tools and resources you need to get your business export ready. Each webinar will provide you with the opportunity to connect with industry leaders and organizations and build foundational relationships for entering new markets!

Date: Thursday, October 12 at 1PM (EDT)

Event Description/Learning Objectives:Discover the vast opportunities created by Canada’s 15 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) covering 51 countries and 1.5 billion consumers worldwide. The webinar will explore key chapters and trade policy topics, shedding light on how FTAs can open doors to new markets and avenues for growth for your business.

More information and registration

Date: Thursday, November 9, 2023 at, 1pm (EST)

Event Description/Learning Objectives: Entrepreneurs will be introduced to some of the tools, and surveys they can use to assess their export readiness. By the end of the webinar, participants should feel more confident in knowing which resources to access to determine their suitability for export at this time. 

More information & registration

Date: Tuesday July 25 at 1pm (ET)

Event Description/Learning Objectives: To help break down the market entry barrier, we will facilitate conversations between entrepreneurs, partners and support organizations to support export-readiness for Canadian entrepreneurs.

Watch the recording

Date: Thursday, June 8, 2023 at 1pm (ET)

Event Description/Learning Objectives: As more startups explore international opportunities, market segmentation helps entrepreneurs send the right message, every time, by efficiently targeting specific groups of consumers.

Watch the recording

Date: Thursday, April 13, 2023 at 1pm (ET)

Event Description/Learning Objectives: This webinar will explore the importance of intellectual property rights in international trade and exporting. Participants will assess the nature and scope of intellectual property rights and look at the relationship between intellectual property rights and innovation.

Watch the recording

Date: Thursday, March 2, 2023 at 1pm (EST)

Event Description/Learning Objectives:  Barcodes are everywhere – from the food we buy, to the clothes we wear. This webinar will demystify barcodes by explaining why unique product identification is important, when your product should get a barcode, and how to set up and manage your barcodes for business. 

Watch the recording

Past events

Our favourite highlights

See Startup Global (formerly the Canadian Export Challenge) in action over the years.

2022 Startup Global

Event Recap

2021 Startup Global

Event recap

2021 Canada-Israel Joint Pitch Competition

Event recap

2020 Canadian Export Challenge

Watch Now

2019 Canadian Export Challenge

Watch Now

2018 Canadian Export Challenge

Watch Now


“It was amazing! Getting on the stage wasn't easy, but it really helped us communicate our vision and business concisely, and with confidence. This was a really important milestone for us as a business and helped me grow personally. Not only that, but we gained resources that will be pivotal for our business, and connected with some amazing Canadian entrepreneurs that are doing incredible things in so many different industries. I can't wait to follow their journey over the next few years, and I can't wait to see who will be on the stage next year!"

- Julia St.Amand, RetinaLogik, First Place Winner, 2022

"Arbre is so excited to have won 3rd place in the Startup Global pitch competition. We will be using this prize money for R&D for our next sun protection product. Thank you to Startup Canada for organizing an amazing event. It was such a great experience meeting entrepreneurs across Canada, and learning about all the resources available to Canadian startups."

- Stephanie Tien & Kristina Knox, Arbre, Third Place Winners, 2022

It’s time to go global

Whether you want to participate in pitch competitions and events, gain access to exporting guides, meet with expert advisors for support, or simply interested in selling overseas as an entrepreneur, Startup Global is your go-to portal to make your business ready to take the global stage. Get on the mailing list to be notified by filling the form below and selecting "Startup Global" in the program list.

Register now

Our program partners

Co-presenting partners

Ecosystem partners


Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, if you submitted a virtual pitch application but were unsuccessful you are welcome to pitch in person.

Yes – during the application process, you will be able to indicate whether you would like to submit your application in English or in French. If pitching in-person at one of the Tour Stops, applications will be able to pitch in either English or French

Yes you can! We’re excited to travel across Canada this year with five Startup Canada Tour stops. There will be two application form options for the Startup Global Pitch Competition, one for general online applications and a separate option for entrepreneurs who would like to pitch in-person at one of the Startup Canada Tour locations. The winner of each Startup Global Pop-up Pitch gets a cash prize and an automatic spot in the Top 10 to compete at the Grand Finale. Entrepreneurs who are unable to pitch in-person at our Tour stops, may still participate through our virtual application and will have their online application adjudicated in June.  

  • To submit an application for the pitch competition, you’ll simply need to create a free account on our Startup Global Portal.
  • If you are applying to pitch in-person at one of the Startup Canada Tour stops, you will be required to pitch to a panel of judges (with no visual aid accompaniment). Each pitcher will be granted 2 minutes to pitch, followed by 3 minutes of Q&A with a judge(s).The Top 3 pitches will then advance to pitch on the mainstage at each location for a chance to take home $3,000.00. 
  • If you are applying through the Virtual Application, you will be required to include information based on our judging criteria (please see below).

Sign up for our Startup Global newsletter to be the first to know about other opportunities! 

If you were a Semi-Finalist in 2022 but were not selected to be in the Top 10, you can apply again this year. If you were a Top 10 Finalist in 2022, you cannot apply to the Startup Global pitch this year.  However, you are welcome to participate in the Startup Global programming (i.e. access the portal, attend webinars, and be a sounding board for other entrepreneurs).

Our criteria focuses on answering one important question, “What is your potential to scale globally?” To help answer this question, our panel of judges will assess your business under the following criteria:

  • Target market | Is there a clearly defined target market? Businesses that have clearly outlined their target audience will be able to identify the potential for scaling globally, such as understanding the current size and potential growth of a target market, the volatility or stability of a target market, or identifying particular characteristics like a high-priced niche.
  • Objective | All solutions are built to fix an identified problem, but not all problems need scalable solutions. Does your business solve a problem from a short-term trend? Or is there a real long-term need for your solution? Businesses that have the potential to go global have long-run, sustainable business models.
  • Solution | Businesses with a detailed, innovative solution that has a strong unique selling proposition (USP) will be more likely to scale globally. This criteria assesses your overall product or service, for instance, price, convenience, uniqueness, innovation, quality, efficiency, and branding.
  • Leadership | What does your leadership team look like? Does your team, mentors or board of advisors have industry experience, key relationships, and/or prior successes and failures? These are crucial facets in determining whether your business has the support and guidance to help successfully expand globally.
  • Traction (if any) | A key indicator of being able to scale globally is a detailed assessment of the trajectory of a solution. This includes evaluating the minimum viable product (MVP), and existing partners.
  • Competition | Going global means stacking up against an international community of innovators and entrepreneurs; how does your business stand out? Why should a customer choose your solution over another?
  • Ability to go global | This criteria hopes to help our panel of judges ultimately answer the question,“Do you think this contestant has the potential to scale globally?”

Email us at global@startupcan.ca

You are welcome to participate in Startup Global programming, but your business must be based in Canada to be eligible for the Startup Global Pitch Competition.


Yes! Startup Global is 100% free.

Win from an overall cash prize pool of $70,000 to help grow your business. 

  • Tour Stop winners (5 total): $3,000 for each stop
  • Grand Finale:
    • First Place: $30,000.00
    • Second Place: $15,000.00
    • Third Place: $7,500.00
    • People’s Choice Award: $2,500.00

No. Every entrepreneur is able to access the portal and its content without pitching. If you’re interested in pitching, the application to register for the Startup Global Pitch competition is located in the portal and will go live in May.

To join you must register for the Startup Global portal. We’ll ask you a few short questions so that we’re adding content that will be relevant to you and your business. 


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