Fibrenoire co-founders invest more than $2 million to support future Polytechnique “technopreneurs”
Polytechnique Montréal alumni pay it forward.
The three founding partners of Fibrenoire, Benjamin Desmarais, Rémi Fournier and Jean-François Lévesque, all of whom are Polytechnique alumni, today announced a donation of more than $2 million to the Polytechnique Foundation to support Poly students who are interested in starting a technology company, as they did.
“We were fortunate to have had such great support for our business project,” said Fibrenoire President Desmarais. “We want to express our gratitude to Polytechnique Montréal, help other students and young graduates start companies that will move Québec forward, and set an example for the business community regarding the importance of lending support to the emerging entrepreneurial class.”
The donation from the trio of young Fibrenoire founders is expected to double entrepreneurial activity at Polytechnique within two years. The funds will be provided in two stages. First, an investment fund of $1 million in capital will be created, whereby the Fibrenoire founders seek to support startups at Poly as well as projects emerging from the school’s Technopreneur profile.
The Technopreneur profile is an initiative of the Centre d’entrepreneuriat Poly-UdeM, which provides student entrepreneurs with support and guidance in starting up companies based on technologies developed at Polytechnique and Université de Montréal laboratories.
The donation will be accompanied by an irrevocable bequest of more than $1 million by the three partners to the Polytechnique Foundation, which will be used to fund scholarships for students interested in entrepreneurship.
The donation announcement came during an address to the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal by the CEO of Polytechnique Montréal, Christophe Guy.
“More than a third of young Quebecers are attracted by entrepreneurship, a trend that appears to be growing with each passing year, and Polytechnique Montréal is on the front lines of this transformation that bodes well for the future,” he said. “For 20 years now we have been developing tools for commercializing our research, and encouraging our students to found companies. This generous gesture by Fibrenoire’s partners sends a message of encouragement and ambition.”
The donation by the Fibrenoire founders enhances Polytechnique’s strengths in the area of technology entrepreneurship, a mission that is part of the institution’s history. Nearly 20 years ago, the school made a pioneering move when it became the first university in Québec to establish a commercial-development fund: Polyvalor, created to commercialize the scientific discoveries and technology innovations stemming from research conducted on campus. Along with the activities of the Centre d’entrepreneuriat Poly-UdeM, these initiatives are at the heart of Polytechnique’s strategy dubbed Le génie d’entreprendre, and speak to the catalyst role played by Polytechnique in stimulating technology entrepreneurship.
Founded in 2007, Fibrenoire specializes in fibre-optic connectivity services for businesses. The company is continuing build-out of its own fibre-optic network, which currently extends to more than 4,500 km, in the Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal and Québec City areas. It leverages its IT engineering expertise to serve the specific needs of some 1,300 clients in a wide range of industry segments. Since early 2016, Fibrenoire has pursued its development as an independent subsidiary of Vidéotron.
About Polytechnique Montréal
Founded in 1873, Polytechnique Montréal is one of Canada’s leading engineering teaching and research institutions. It is the largest engineering university in Québec for the size of its graduate student body and the scope of its research activities. With over 45,700 graduates, Polytechnique Montréal has educated nearly a quarter of the current members of the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec. The institution offers more than 120 programs. Polytechnique has 250 professors and over 8,200 students. It has an annual operating budget of more than $210 million, including a research budget exceeding $70 million.
About the Centre d’entrepreneuriat Poly-UdeM
Active since 1998, the Centre d’entrepreneuriat Poly-UdeM is the Université de Montréal campus gateway to science and technology entrepreneurship. Its aims are to develop a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation at Université de Montréal and Polytechnique Montréal, and to provide concrete support to entrepreneurs and science and technology startups. Its community of entrepreneurs comprises hundreds of students, graduates, faculty members, researchers and employees. Over the years, the Centre d’entrepreneuriat Poly-UdeM has awarded some $1.4 million in prizes and bursaries, and helped launch more than 200 companies.