“What do we need to do in Montréal to establish a community with the same energy and dynamism as we see in other cities around the world?” This question was asked by leaders of Montréal’s entrepreneurial community back in 2009. During a meeting at the corner of Sherbrooke and Saint-Laurent, they decided that the community needed a physical space to gather, allowing everyone to work together and to share ideas to improve and grow the ecosystem.
That is how the OSMO Foundation was born. The name, which comes from the word “osmosis”, corresponds to the abbreviation for Operating System for Montréal or even Open Source Montréal.
To facilitate networking and knowledge transfer between experienced entrepreneurs and startups, the OSMO Foundation became a tenant and then owner of the Notman House, thus creating a place which stimulates collaboration via meetings between entrepreneurs, startups, investors, technology associates and various community groups.
Real Ventures, a capital risk company, played a catalytic role by being the first Notman House tenant. After a year, Notman House had over 50 tenants, proving that such a space for startups was required.
In 2009, the OSMO Foundation founders met for the first time and agreed on the need to create a community and a space which would stimulate the sharing of ideas and knowledge.
Partnership development, purchase and renovation
With the help of many people, companies, private donations, socio-financing, and government funding, the OSMO Foundation bought Notman House and the St-Margaret hospital. The Foundation carried out many important renovations over a period of 18 months.
The Notman House and St-Margaret hospital renovations were completed in 2014. The OSMO Foundation opened the campus’ 30,000 feet to the community.
Thanks to a generous donation by Dan Robichaud, the OSMO Foundation created Café OSMO, an open space which stimulates exchange opportunities.
Built in 1845 on Sherbrooke Street, the William-Notman House became a historic site in 1979. During the 19th century, Sherbrooke Street was home to the high-class society and many opulent houses. The house’s name comes from William A. Notman, a renown Montréal photographer, whose remarkable images immortalized the city and the country during the second half of the 19th century. Mr. Notman was the house’s owner from 1876 up until his death in 1891.
The OSMO Foundation started renting the building in 2011, as it had been abandoned for over 10 years. They then bought the building in 2012.
Notman House is strategically located in the heart of Montréal, at a central intersection of the city’s north-south and east-west axis.