Simon Tian, a 20-year-old Montreal entrepreneur who made headlines last year by crowdfunding a fast $800,000 for his Neptune Pine smartwatch, will now be getting paid for skipping school.

Tian is one of four Canadians to win the Peter Thiel Fellowship, a controversial two-year program that encourages young people to turn innovative ideas into successful businesses.

The other three Canadian winners are from Ontario, while 20 fellowships were handed out in total.

Fellowship founder Peter Thiel, the German-born billionaire who helped co-found PayPal among other tech ventures, designed the program to encourage young people to drop out of school to take their fledgling businesses to the next level.

"College can be good for learning about what's been done before, but it can also discourage young people from doing something new, especially when it leaves them in debt," Thiel said in a statement announcing this year's winners.