Fifth Wave Initiative

Connect Companies

Three women stand side-by-side and pose for a photo


Women comprise more than half of Canada’s population, but only 16% of our businesses are owned or led by women. By introducing the first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES), the Government of Canada seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025. Not only does promoting women’s business ownership foster gender equality in leadership and the empowerment of women, but WES’s $2-billion investment could also yield up to an additional $150 billion in GDP.

CFC Media Lab is pleased to introduce the Fifth Wave Initiative, a new suite of programs and services designed to accelerate and sustain the growth of women-owned/led enterprises* in southern Ontario’s digital media sector. From the team who founded IDEABOOST, Canada’s only vertical media and entertainment technology accelerator for eight years running, Fifth Wave Initiative programming will bring intersectional feminist business practices to the forefront of Canada’s startup ecosystem. It will weave feminist ideals of equity and fairness into business sustainability and scalable growth.

The Fifth Wave Initiative will support up to 200 women-owned/led enterprises in digital media through a combination of bespoke bootcamps, mentorship, industry networking events, and transformative scale-up opportunities for women-owned/led small and medium-sized companies. 

*inclusive of women-identified and/or underrepresented women

Program Components

The Fifth Wave Initiative has three components:

Fifth Wave Connect: networking events designed to link participants with business leaders, academics and entrepreneurs from CFC Media Lab’s own extensive network as well as other powerful women’s networks across southern Ontario

Fifth Wave Labs: four-month sustainable business growth and/or scale-up bootcamp programs and workshops designed specifically for women-owned/led businesses based on women’s lived experiences

Fifth Wave Outreach: scale-up activities that support the regional and global commercialization of participant products and/or enterprises 

Learn more about  FIFTH WAVE PROGRAMS

Learn more about  FIFTH WAVE PARTNERS



OR: Write us at

Apply now to Fifth Wave Connect


The CFC is committed to providing accessible practices that are in compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). If you require accommodation at any stage of the application process or have any questions regarding appropriate accommodations please contact Deborah Fallows, CHRO, at:

Program Partners


Outreach Program Partner

Community Partner

Evaluation Partner



The Fifth Wave Initiative is a year-round program offered by CFC Media Lab and its partners to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in the digital media sector in southern Ontario. 


We accelerate organic growth, based on the human needs and lived experiences of women entrepreneurs, while fostering a welcoming, inclusive, intergenerational program culture where everyone can thrive. We support women entrepreneurs as they grow their business their way, with a focus on equitable models for structure and governance.

All participants in Fifth Wave Initiative must first apply to join Fifth Wave Connect, a prerequisite for eligibility for Fifth Wave Labs and Fifth Wave Outreach. Applications to Fifth Wave Connect can be submitted at any time by using the online form available  here.

Companies seeking to participate should be: (1) owned and/or led by women; (2) based in southern Ontario; and (3) focused on tech, tech-enabled products, content and/or services in the digital media sector. 


Fifth Wave Initiative is committed to 30% participation by members of underrepresented groups. These include, but are not limited to, LGBTIQA+ women, women with disabilities, neurodiverse women, Indigenous women, women of visible minorities, women in rural or remote regions, newcomers to Canada, and women from Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs).

Fifth Wave Connect

Fifth Wave Connect participation is provided to qualifying companies without charge. None of the programs of Fifth Wave Initiative provide direct capital investments, nor is an equity stake required for participation. Entry into the program is based upon application and review by the CFC Media Lab team. Companies are accepted on a rolling basis throughout the year. Fifth Wave Connect companies may vary the intensity of their participation over time, according to their stage of development and goals set with their advisors.

Key activities for Fifth Wave Connect members include:

  • Bimonthly training and collaboration events in Toronto and across southern Ontario
  • Networking within the Fifth Wave community
  • Structured support from within the Fifth Wave partner, mentor and faculty network
  • Direct services provided by Fifth Wave program and event partners
Apply now to Fifth Wave Connect

Fifth Wave Labs

Fifth Wave Labs is a nonresidential four-month intensive bootcamp-style program for 10 companies per cohort each year through 2023. Sessions are customized to capitalize on the expertise of diverse world-class faculty, mentors, advisors, partners and staff. At the orientation session, each founder is paired with a highly qualified, values-aligned lead guide (coach) who helps guide the four-month journey. Fifth Wave companies receive bespoke coaching in business development, market, sales, strategy, partner development, business modeling, financing, planning for scale, staffing, company culture and wellness, and/or various forms of fundraising. All programming is delivered through a feminist lens, focusing on topics such as community impact, ecosystem mapping and engagement, thoughtful disruption and unintended consequences.

Founders within Fifth Wave Labs will also receive intensive coaching on how to fund growth and how to pitch their company to different audiences, including customers and investors. They will receive exposure to CFC Media Lab’s extended investment network in Ontario and beyond. 

Fifth Wave Outreach

A key deliverable for Fifth Wave Initiative is creating and facilitating scale-up opportunities for businesses to increase revenues, including support for commercializing or monetizing a product and/or entering new markets nationally and internationally. The scaling stream of Fifth Wave Initiative programming, known as Fifth Wave Outreach, is specific to our established partnerships and bespoke to the women founders deemed most suitable for each activity. Some examples of this program stream may include:

  • Enterprising Culture, in partnership with the French Embassy in Canada, an immersive exchange program in which French women-owned startups are matched with Canadian women-owned startups for market entry and expansion opportunities
  • Women @ Collision, in partnership with TBA, panel discussions and networking opportunities with women founders and investors from around the world at the Collision tech conference in Toronto (June 2020)
  • Innovation Xchange, in partnership with Global Affairs Canada, which consists of binational workshops with delegations from innovation hubs in Germany, Argentina, Mexico and/or Korea
  • International Roadshow for new market sales and export opportunities abroad on an as-needed basis



The Fifth Wave Initiative is a suite of program offerings focused on supporting expansion-ready women-owned/led digital media businesses in southern Ontario. Applicants interested in participating in any aspect of the Fifth Wave Initiative must first apply for review and acceptance to the Fifth Wave Connect program. Adjudication of applications are made on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Each annual cohort of Fifth Wave Labs will be announced on this website, and require an additional application by companies that have already been accepted into Fifth Wave Connect. Other opportunities within the initiative (like Fifth Wave Outreach) are by invitation only to companies in the Connect program.

Click here to apply now to Fifth Wave Connect. 


Companies are eligible to apply to Fifth Wave Initiative if they are:

  • Women-owned/led small or medium-sized digital media enterprises
  • Incorporated and based in southern Ontario
  • Mid-to-later-stage businesses with a product/service in market
  • Content, service or technology-enabled businesses
  • Export-ready

At least 30% of the participants will be drawn from:

  • Women with disabilities
  • Neurodiverse women
  • LGBTIQA+ women
  • Indigenous women
  • Women of visible minorities
  • Women in rural or remote regions
  • Newcomers to Canada
  • Women from Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs)

Key goals for this program include:

  • Helping women-owned/led companies grow, strengthen and become truly financially sustainable
  • Facilitating access to values-aligned capital to women entrepreneurs
  • Supporting organic enterprise growth through bespoke programming
  • Providing a welcoming culture and transformative experience for everyone, including mentors, investors, coaches and partners
  • Enabling thoughtful, intentional disruption
  • Encouraging and leveraging the power of intergenerational learning
  • Creating an environment where women’s earned/learned experiences and insights are valued
  • Improving support and outcomes for women founders by recognizing and valuing their primary caregiving responsibilities (where applicable)

For further information about the program, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) here.

OR: Write us at

Apply now to Fifth Wave Connect



OCAD University’s Super Ordinary Lab looks at near to market or just-in market technologies to understand their social significance and potentialities. Research programs are created on a case-by-case basis, depending on the type of technological acquisition, its market standing, partner interest, community uptake, and curricular possibilities.

Eve-Volution, Inc. is an experienced, lean and innovative intersectional feminist consulting and startup skill-building collective. It serves feminist economy stakeholders, incubators, accelerators, economic development organizations, impact investors, corporate innovation teams and policymakers with a focus on designing incubators and accelerator programs that help human-centered and social innovation-led enterprises grow.

Digital Justice Lab focuses on building a more just and equitable future by engaging with diverse communities to build alternative digital futures. Working alongside technologists, community activists, and policymakers, they shape a better understanding of technology and its impact on communities across the country. Through capacity building, public engagement and continuous collaboration, Digital Justice Lab supports communities in making informed decisions around digital issues.

The Pivotal Point shares its unique model for fostering entrepreneurship to bring insights on innovation, creativity and synergy to organizations developing their own incubators and accelerators. Headed by Valerie Fox, co-founder of the DMZ at Ryerson University – Canada’s leading university incubator, ranked as one of the world’s top three.

Marigold Capital offers strategic consulting and fund management in the private market impact investing space, with a focus on social justice in domestic and emerging markets.

SheEO is a radically redesigned ecosystem that supports, finances, and celebrates female innovators. Launched in 2015 in Canada, this visionary model is emerging as a leading global innovation that is totally unique. Rather than trying to fit women into the existing models and systems and level the playing field, they are creating an entirely new field. SheEO pushes the reset button on how to support women on their own terms and focuses on bringing out the best of women by being radically generous to each another. 


The Government of Canada’s first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES) has committed $2-billion in order to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025, fostering gender equality in leadership, the empowerment of women, and a net gain of up to $150 billion in GDP.

Across Canada, business leaders now have the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to the advancement of gender equity, inclusion and diversity and to foster innovation in the accelerator space by providing additional support to the programs involved in the nationwide WES.

CFC Media Lab’s Fifth Wave Initiative offers companies a range of exciting opportunities to get involved, including:

  • Fifth Wave Initiative – PRESENTING Sponsor
  • Fifth Wave Lab – SUPPORTING Sponsor
  • Fifth Wave Connect – HOSTING Sponsor

To learn how your company can support women founders and entrepreneurs in southern Ontario and the many benefits of sponsorship, contact:

Ana Serrano, Chief Digital Officer, CFC

Nataly De Monte, Associate Director, CFC Media Lab

For further information about the program, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)  here.

OR: Write us at

Apply now to Fifth Wave Connect



AVA Animation & Visual Arts is a team of professionals with award winning expertise in projection mapping and interactive content for immersive spaces. A creative team that thrives on creating exceptional visual solutions for live entertainment and transforming events into extraordinary visual experiences with technology, creativity and emotion. 

Babe Nation is a Toronto-based boutique indie production company that champions female and emerging voices behind and in front of the camera. 

Driftscape connects local destinations with visitors via our mobile apps. We focus on local culture so visitors can find the best of what’s nearby. Local destinations get powerful tools to learn about their visitors, at a fraction of the cost of building their own app.

EssayJack is a web-based solution offering scaffolding for writing so that writers have interactive text boxes, tips and prompts that walk them through the writing process, targeting high school and university/college students and educators.

Innovate By Day is a woman-led social media and digital content company known for engaging online communities and building turnkey, customized solutions for clients. 

My Wine Canada is an online marketplace that connects consumers with wineries and distilleries across the country. My Wine Canada has over 100 winery and distillery partners and features 1,500+ products in the marketplace - almost all of which cannot be found in any liquor store.

Oya Media Group is a Black women-led production company. Our mission is to thrive in the Canadian and International media marketplace and contribute our voice to an underrepresented demographic, concentrating on new forms of socially relevant diverse content. 

Sarah Selecky Writing School is an online creative writing school that approaches writing as an art, and also as a contemplative practice. We believe that skill comes from study, that inspiration comes from love, and that both are necessary.

Sticky Brain Studios is a company that designs smart experiences that make you think. We help companies connect with audiences by creating interactive games, apps, and digital content. 

Connect Companies

AccessAR (AAR) creates augmented reality content for event, conference and festival organizers; fashion, entertainment, lifestyle and CPG food, beverage and cosmetic brands.

Achimostawinan Games is an Indigenous owned and operated video game company dedicated to developing Indigenous games for an Indigenous audience (and the world) while also helping Indigenous artists and communities develop interactive and digital content.

Amintro Inc. is a social impact enterprise reducing social isolation for those ages 50plus through its free, online, social platform called Amintro.

Art Collision is a digital marketing agency, specializing in strategy, content, design, and development. 

Artcryption is a blockchain platform that protects, tracks and stores artwork on the Ehereum blockchain creating trust in the purchase of art. 

B4brand is a bilingual, multicultural, storytelling-driven marketing agency for purpose-driven brands. 

Culture Creates is a social enterprise that uses semantic computing technology to help the performing arts and culture sector generate its very own sector knowledge graph of what’s happening in the arts in Canada.

Digital 55 is a collective of award-winning designers, developers, researchers, and content strategists working together to create unique, innovative digital interactive products, and learning experiences. 

DriveHER is a tech-enabled platform that empowers women with access to safer transportation and economic opportunity through female-only ridesharing.

e→d films is a Montreal-based animation studio that makes award-winning films with a handcrafted feel. (ESR) is a new breed of motorcycle community. Combining the best of today's social web with useful features tailored to motorcycle enthusiasts of all types, ESR is an open platform for the exchange of everything motorcycle.

FitIn is a Fitness and Mental Wellness App.We're dedicated to helping Canadians find physical fitness and mental health solutions - quickly and easily. 

HiBnb is a Canadian cannabis hospitality service dedicated to helping the cannabis community explore, experience and share what they love by facilitating Canada-based accommodations and tourism experiences that include cannabis.

Idea Central is a creative strategy consulting agency based in Toronto Canada.

KIDICTED is a mobile app designed to inspire kids to put down their devices and get 'addicted' to the real world.

Lightouch is an EdTech in the creative industry segment designed to help parents and educators empower children to thrive and succeed in life by building their emotional intelligence and strengthening their soft skills.

Little Engine Moving Pictures is a creator-driven television, feature film and interactive production company specializing in innovative live-action, hybrid and animated series for an international audience.

LuxSOS is a social purpose company that helps entrepreneurs, who work in the service industry, embrace and thrive using the online market safely.

NeedsList builds software and solutions for a new era of global crises. Our flagship software powers faster and sustainable humanitarian action with real-time matching tools. 

NOYADESIGNS is a digital design and marketing firm that provides solopreneurs and large organizations with digital marketing assets produced through a diverse and inclusive lens.

Origami XR is a cloud computing tool that makes it easy to create and share augmented and virtual reality experiences.

Peeps provides readers with well-told, deeply researched stories about culture, shared with world-class photojournalism and design. 

Phlywheel was founded by Toronto-based strategic marketing firm, Truly Inc. 


Podyssey is an online community where podcast lovers can discover and discuss their favourite podcasts.

SEL GHEBREHIWOT VIDEO PRODUCTION Inc. is a full service strategy and production marketing agency for businesses looking to successfully use video on all social media platforms. 

StagePage is a performing arts intelligence company and data platform, founded by artist and producer, Mariel Marshall.

Taza Media is an independent film production company based in the creative hub of Toronto. 

The Venue Global has created a smart technology that allows users to tailor their entertainment experience to their unique needs; providing real-time data on what is worth attending and who else will be there! 

Tribe of Pan is a Toronto based creative studio that produces immersive media content with leading businesses, brands, organizations, and institutions

Vacation Fund is an employee vacation saving and matching program designed to make compensation more meaningful and emotionally impactful. 

weDstll™ is a highly-customizable mobile platform which matches like-minded shoppers with each other and natural beauty brands based on their shared values. 



Q: What kind of tangible results does the Fifth Wave Initiative seek to deliver?

A: First and foremost, Fifth Wave Initiative exists to help women-led companies grow and become financially sustainable. To achieve this, we have designed a unique, high-powered program that will strengthen founders’ business skills, generate new insights, accelerate business development efforts (domestically and internationally), grow revenues/monetize followings, facilitate access to aligned capital and to values-aligned, diverse mentors and coaches for women in business. We will also leverage the Government of Canada’s women’s entrepreneurship initiatives, for example, participation in supplier diversity efforts.

Q: What kind of gaps in the startup ecosystem does Fifth Wave Initiative seek to address?

A: Women-owned/led companies are underrepresented in mainstream accelerator programs. Additionally, studies continue to show that women entrepreneurs looking to grow their companies experience additional barriers to success. As a result, Fifth Wave Initiative seeks to help women entrepreneurs access (1) relevant, values-aligned capital; (2) viable, alternative pathways for growth and (3) support for women serving as primary caregivers while growing a company. It also seeks to provide guidance on (1) relationship capital and/or expertise in securing government grants; (2) how to navigate an extreme-growth, ageist, VC-oriented tech culture; and (3) how to leverage, value and support the lived experiences, social roles and insights of women entrepreneurs.

Q: I’m a 50-50 owner of a company with a male co-founder. Am I eligible to apply?

A: While the program welcomes companies that are majority-owned by women, the Fifth Wave Initiative is also open to companies that are led by women, even if they do not own a majority of their company’s equity.

Q: Is my company eligible if we are located outside of Toronto?

A: Companies from across southern Ontario are eligible. The primary location of service delivery will be in Toronto, however, additional venues across southern Ontario will be onboarded to host Fifth Wave Connect events.

Q: What kinds of companies fall within the digital media ecosystem?

A: We are interested in technology or technology-enabled companies that provide content, services, consulting, platforms and/or products in categories including arts, entertainment, information, education, recreation, culture, immersive media and more.

Q: What stages of companies are eligible to apply?

A: Companies may range from early- to later-stages in their development; so long as they are offering a product, process or service that is currently in market and generating revenue when they apply.

Q: What are feminist business practices and how do they inform the Fifth Wave Initiative?

A: Feminist business practices, as they apply to Fifth Wave Initiative, mean learning about alternative enterprise management, design tools and growth strategies, such as feminist business model canvas, ecosystem mapping and inclusive leadership principles. It also means creating sustainable enterprises which value equity, wellness, community, and fairness. We also seek to open up the Ontario startup ecosystem to women founders with a range of definitions of success. We recognize not all successful enterprises depend on traditional private venture capital startup models. In practice, this means that some of our companies will not be seeking rapid growth and market share so much as creating a sustainable business that delivers value to customers and communities, sometimes even niche groups that would otherwise not be served by conventional businesses.

Q: What are the program’s own diversity goals?

A: Fifth Wave Initiative recruitment and selection will emphasize diversity of thought, background, experience, and enterprise stage within the founders participating in each program component, with a particular lens on encouraging underrepresented age groups, LGBTIQA+ women and nonbinary individuals, women with disabilities, neurodiverse women, Indigenous women, women of visible minorities, women in rural or remote regions, newcomers to Canada, and women from Official Language Minority Communities (OLMCs).

Q: What if I have difficulty completing the questions in the online application form?

A: You may contact us at and a staff member will assist you.

Q: What is the schedule for Fifth Wave Initiative in 2020?

A: Here is the general schedule, always subject to revision as circumstances require:

Currently: Fifth Wave Initiative applications are being accepted online.

2020 Schedule:

Applications open for Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #1

Fifth Wave Labs Applications Close February 29th

Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #1 announced

Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #1 begins 

Fifth Wave Connect Event

Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #1 final intensive 

Fifth Wave Connect Event

Fifth Wave Connect Event

Fifth Wave Demo Fair

Fifth Wave Connect Event

Application Opens for Fifth Wave Labs Cohort #2

Questions? Write us at

Apply now to Fifth Wave Connect