#ElevateToronto launches tech festival to showcase best of Canadian innovation to the world

City of Toronto

Toronto is set to host Elevate Toronto, a new technology festival aimed at celebrating the city’s thriving tech ecosystem this September.

Leaders from Toronto’s innovation community and the city’s Mayor John Tory announced the festival today at the CN Tower’s Horizon Restaurant.

“It’s our time. Startups and corporate leaders are aligning with the government’s innovation agenda creating the perfect circumstances for accelerated growth.”
– Razor Suleman

Elevate Toronto is a nonprofit organization led by TechToronto, MaRS, #movethedial, OneEleven, Cossette, and the Spotlight Awards. 17 different organizations in total have collaborated and partnered with the City of Toronto to create the three-day tech festival (BetaKit is one of the proud community sponsors).

Taking place from September 12 to September 14, Elevate Toronto aims to showcase Toronto’s tech ecosystem and promote Toronto as a world-class destination for startups, innovation, talent, and investment.

“Toronto is an amazing city and is incredibly well positioned to capitalize on the current wave of emerging technology,” said Razor Suleman, co-founder and CEO of Elevate Toronto. “It’s our time. Startups and corporate leaders are aligning with the government’s innovation agenda creating the perfect circumstances for accelerated growth.”

Organizers said the festival will include a conference portion, where tech experts and leaders will give keynote addresses on growing sectors such as artificial intelligence, FinTech, and blockchain. The festival will also give attendees the opportunity to connect and exchange ideas with the startup community, potential investors, prospective employees, and strategic partners.

Organizers said Elevate Toronto will also tackle themes like diversity and inclusion in tech, as well as engage underrepresented members in the industry through discussions and activities.

According to Suleman, Elevate Toronto will invite Toronto’s tech community to tell their stories and promote their accomplishments to the world.

“How do we engage the 17 leaders of this community to come together and create something not just for our local community but something for the world stage?” said Suleman, at the launch. “How do we promote the amazing things happening in our ecosystem and brag about the successes we’ve had in Toronto? Promote our accomplishments…invite the world to come to our home and show them what a thriving innovation ecosystem that is diverse that is inclusive.”

During Elevate Toronto’s launch, Jodi Kovitz, organizer of #MoveTheDial and CEO of Acetech, gave an overview of what the three-day festival will look like.

Kovitz said that day one of Elevate Toronto will take place at the Sony Centre, and host a series of keynote speakers and TED-style presentations that will focus on the theme of diversity and inclusion in tech.

“We are kicking off Toronto with an inspiring 3,000 person all-day event featuring high-profile global leaders, trendsetters, and very disruptive thinkers,” said Kovitz. “The overarching theme of the day is how diversity and inclusion are fundamental to innovation and global winning outcomes. The event will reflect our diverse population in every single way: onstage and in the audience.”

“Elevate Toronto will become a marquee event for the city to showcase its innovation ecosystem.”
– Mayor John Tory

Kovitz added that day two will include formal programming and content tracks from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day will focus on showcasing Toronto’s strengths in key sectors such as AI, health, and FinTech — each of which will be held at different venues throughout the city including MaRS and OneEleven. Kovitz also noted that day two will end with an innovative King West Social, where attendees will be able to network and build connections at restaurants and lounge venues along King Street West.

Day three of Elevate Toronto will feature the NewCo festival, hosted by Cossette, where over 30 Canadian tech companies will open their doors throughout Toronto to share their innovative stories and work environments with the festival’s attendees. #MoveTheDial will also participate in the festival by encouraging female founders to open their doors to attendees.

Elevate Toronto will wrap up with the Spotlight Awards, which will bring together tech founders, investors, influencers, and ecosystem builders to honour the milestones of Canada’s top tech companies and celebrate the country’s growing innovation ecosystem.

Tory, who stopped by at Elevate Toronto’s launch, said that Elevate Toronto will become a major event for showcasing Toronto’s innovation ecosystem.

“There is no doubt that Toronto is becoming a global centre for innovation and technology,” said Tory. “Elevate Toronto will become a marquee event for the city to showcase its innovation ecosystem, its talent, its ambitions and our undisputable leadership in areas like AI and FinTech.”

He added that with Toronto being the host of many festivals for industries like music and the arts, the city needs a festival like Elevate Toronto to celebrate and highlight its tech companies and leadership in innovation.

“This is a city where we really pride ourselves on all the different festivals we have. You have to think to yourself we don’t have any event that really celebrates technology and that really is a festival that celebrates our great accomplishments,” said Tory. “What this whole Elevate conference is about is showcasing those people, encouraging you to do more of what you’re doing, to disrupt, and to do it in partnership with the established industries that are so important to our wellbeing here.”

Organizers and community partners include:

  • City of Toronto
  • NewCo Toronto
  • Spotlight Awards
  • Move The Dial
  • TechToronto
  • MaRS
  • OneEleven
  • BNN
  • BetaKit
  • StartUp Here Toronto
  • Espresso Capital
  • Ladies Learning Code
  • Bennett Jones
  • The Founder City Project
  • OMERS Ventures
  • Wattpad
  • Peloton Innovations
  • AngelList
  • AceTech
  • Upside Foundation
  • ATPH

Elevate Toronto plans to distribute hundreds of free festival passes to attendees to improve access and ensure widespread participation of under-represented groups within the industry. Those interested in contributing to and participating in the festival programming can learn more here.

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi

Amira Zubairi is a staff writer at BetaKit. As a fourth-year journalism student who has written primarily about entrepreneurship, Amira has developed a growing interest in Canadian startup, business, and tech news. In her free time, Amira enjoys reading, baking and watching legal shows.