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Startup Stream

The Startup Stream supports entrepreneurs who address problems in various industries and fields by incubating early-stage ventures as they begin their journey toward commercialization.

The Startup Stream offers structure and support to take your innovative design from concept and 3D prototype all the way to mass production and commercial success.

This stream is ideal for startups, entrepreneurs, designers, architects, and a range of engineers, including mechanical, electrical, aerospace and robotics.

An ideal DFZ startup is able to demonstrate the following:

  • A business dedicated to solving a compelling problem along with a desire to innovate by design
  • A driven, coachable and collaborative leadership team
  • An initial version of a product concept and a need for further prototyping and/or product development
  • A co-founder or lead collaborator dedicated to product development
  • A defined business model and some form of market validation (preferred but not required)

Program Options

Integrated Design Program

A one-of-a-kind pilot project to connect startups with  accredited professional designers while also offering access to a seminar series, expert mentors and an opportunity to participate in a Design Charrette.

Standard Startup Stream

Our standard stream provides startups with the tools and knowledge they need to make design an integral part of their product development process, without connections to professional designers.

Example Projects


Novalte’s Emitto is a fully monitored smart assistive ecosystem for individuals with upper mobility issues. It augments the existing smart home devices on the market to enable them to be tailored to each individual’s unique requirements.


Ovandi is cannabis technology company based in Toronto, Canada developing innovative devices to curate experiences for cannabis consumers.


sQuishloc is a reusable, collapsible, and convenient pouch for your on-the-go needs. Easy to fill and clean, its lightweight design makes it an ideal solution for snacks and smoothies.

"If you make anything related to hardware and want to rapidly prototype there is no place in Toronto that compares with the DFZ. The staff has such an amazing wealth of knowledge which can truly transform your product into a business."
-Jeffrey Stewart, Co-Founder, Ovandi