How does the contest work?
What are the prizes?
What projects are eligible?
Who can enter?
How do I enter?
What are the key deadlines?
Online Application Form


Digifest is proud to announce a unique opportunity for digital entrepreneurs to participate in our IT’S A START pitch competition.

What is IT’S A START?
This competition is open to creative professionals, budding entrepreneurs, start-ups, students and recent graduates looking to pitch their ideas in a competitive format. Finalists will have the opportunity stage during the festival to show the jury why their project deserves to win one of the prizes, which includes financing and incubation space in the George Brown College Digital Media & Gaming Incubator and OCAD University’s Imagination Catalyst Incubator.

We are looking for the most innovative ideas from individuals, start-ups or digital companies who have special projects that they want to take to the next level. There is no fee to apply for this competition.

How does the contest work?
The contest will be developed in the following phases:

Phase 1

The competition officially launches in October 2013. Contestants have two months to submit their application.

Phase 2

Applications will be accepted until Friday January 24, 2014 at 5 p.m. All entries will be reviewed by the IT’S A START Committee and the first round of finalists will be announced on Friday January 31, 2014.

Phase 3

First round finalists will have an opportunity to attend a Creative Camp over the course of two days (Saturday February 8 & Sunday February 9, 2014) where entrepreneurs in residence will provide mentorship support and help the finalists evolve their projects.

Phase 4

In order to be considered for the pitch contest finale, finalists must re-submit their updated project proposals by Friday March 14, 2014 at 5 p.m. All entries will be reviewed by the IT’S A START Committee and the second round of finalists will be announced on March 24, 2014.

Phase 5

The Pitch Contest Finale will take place during Digifest on Saturday May 10 at the Corus Quay building located at Toronto’s Waterfront (see map). Semi-finalists will present on stage before a live audience to convince the jury why their project deserves to win.

Final Presentation Pitch Contest Rules:
• Only one individual from the team can deliver the pitch at Digifest on Saturday May 10, 2014.
• Each contestant will have two minutes to respond to judges’ Q & A, directly following their pitch.
• PowerPoint/PDF presentations are mandatory for the presentation

What are the key deadlines?
Friday January 24th, 2014: All contestant entries due by 5 p.m.
Friday January 31st, 2014: The first-round finalists for the competition announced
Saturday February 8th – Sunday February 9th, 2014: The first-round finalists attend Creative Camp
Friday March 14th, 2014: The first-round finalists re-submit project proposals by 5 p.m.
Monday March 24th, 2014: The second-round finalists for the competition announced
Saturday May 10th, 2014: Pitch Contest Finale
What are the prizes?
Grand Prize:
1st Place: Cash prize of $10,000 plus Incubator space and mentoring (Value $10,000)!
This includes one year in the Digital Media and Gaming Incubator at George Brown College in the form of workspace, mentorship, business plan consulting, workshops and marketing.

2nd Place: Cash prize of $2,000 plus Incubator space and mentoring (Value $10,000)!

3rd Place: Prizes from OCADU!

What projects are eligible?
For the IT’S A START competition, we are looking for creative, cutting-edge projects driven by conscientious and dedicated individuals that will help us solve some of today’s pressing urban challenges. Do you have an original idea that can improve the way we live, work and play? Have you developed an application or technology that will allow us to manage complexities and build more resilient cities? Does your project connect people and networks, ultimately enabling us to live better lives? If your project or idea fits the above-mentioned criteria then please keep reading.

  • Project entries or ideas must be the original work of the applicant(s).
  • Applicant(s) who have submitted to IT’S A START competition in the past and have not qualified as a finalist can re-submit a proposal, however, you must be able to demonstrate how the project or idea has changed.
What projects are NOT eligible?
  • Submissions that have won in previous IT’S A START competitions.
Who can enter?
  • Start-up companies
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Students or recent graduates
    • NB: George Brown College and OCAD University students/graduates/faculty are eligible to participate in the competition, however, you must disclose this information in your application.
How do I enter?
Applications are now closed. Stay tuned for information about next year’s festival!
Who is on the IT'S A START committee?
The committee is made up of experts from industry, academia and finance.
What are the selection criteria?
The committee will use the following criteria to determine the finalists for the competition:


Has this idea been presented this way before? How does your idea compare to existing projects/ideas that address similar issues?


Is there a demand for your idea? Why would someone buy it?

Market Readiness

How much more development is needed?

User friendliness

How easy is it to use?

Creativity & Design

How is your idea executed? Is the overall design clear and effective?


How realistic is your plan to execute this project? Does your budget take into consideration the logistics, production, technical requirements and other expenditures?

Probability of Success

With the right investment and support, could this idea become a successful business?

The first IT’S A START competition was held in Monza, Italy organized by Regione Lombardia, Provincia Monza Brianza and Camera di Commercio di Monza in June 2012. The next competition “IT’S A START Canada” premiered at Digifest Saturday, October 20, 2012.

A complete list of Grand Prize winners from the First Canadian edition of IT’S A START CANADA can be found here.