Collision has come and gone

Plus: The AI reality check is happening now.

Five years after it landed in Toronto, Collision hosted its final conference in the city this week. If you want to know more about where the rebranded conference is heading next year, Josh Scott has you covered.

Some will miss Collision. Abdullah Snobar, the executive director of DMZ, summed up how many others I spoke to are feeling about the conference departing: “It’s not bitter-sweet—it’s bitter that it’s leaving. Collision was ours to lose and we should have been able to keep it here.” 

Philip Cutler, CEO of Montréal-based EdTech startup Paper, said it was easy for him to hop on a 45-minute commercial flight, link up with other founders and investors, and be back home for dinner. “Anytime a big event that draws tens of thousands of people leaves, you’re losing something but, you know, one door closes another door opens,” he said.

Others say Collision was more hype than it was worth, though. “You’re just colliding with so many people all week to grab as much airtime as you can from people that are just cruising by,” said Harrison Amit, founder of the recently launched Hovr, a competitor to Uber. “It creates more work that doesn’t always translate into meaningful partnerships or investments.”

What’s the impact of Collision’s departure from Toronto? Will we see you in Vancouver next year? My inbox is open.

Thanks for reading on and ’til next week,

Bianca Bharti

Newsletter Editor

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Everyone at Collision is talking about Web Summit Vancouver

As the last Collision kicked off in Toronto this week, the successor to the major North American technology conference, and its new host city, has been the talk of the town.

“Knowing that we have this incredible tech scene that doesn’t seem to be really known in some corners of the world, this was a perfect opportunity to marry what we do in terms of building the visitor economy and Web Summit, which is truly an experience,” Destination Vancouver president and CEO Royce Chwin said during a June 14 event hosted by KPMG celebrating the successful bid.

(Read more)

“The reality check is happening now”: AI leaders at Collision on the state of the market

As expected, at Collision 2024 this week, artificial intelligence dominated discussions.

A year and a half after the release of OpenAI’s text generator ChatGPT, BetaKit checked in with industry leaders at the Toronto technology conference on the state of the AI market, where there has been real innovation—not just smoke and mirrors—and what they expect going forward.

(Read more)

Here’s what VCs are saying about the fundraising environment at Collision

Following the end of the zero interest rate salad days and resulting “flight to quality,” venture capital firms are operating with a different playbook this year, one focused on balancing profitability and sustainable growth, investors speaking at Collision 2024 said.

BetaKit caught up with partners at a variety of VC firms speaking at the tech event to give founders an idea of what investors are thinking about in the current fundraising environment.

(Read more)

Vantage points: Canadian startups on growth vs profitability

Like many founders over the last two years, Philip Cutler, who leads EdTech startup Paper, had to pivot his business strategy.

The Bank of Canada launched a historic hiking cycle in March 2022, bringing an end to a zero-interest-rate-policy environment. The venture capital market, in turn, pulled away from lofty valuations. Gone were the high-flying days when investors would ink term sheets with startups in a matter of hours.

(Read more)

“Buckle up.” The promise of AI will transform healthcare, housing, and your job

Shorter wait times in hospitals. Organs produced by 3D printers. Affordable housing built through automation.

These are some of the promises of AI that will bring tangible benefits to people’s lives, even as the world continues to grapple with the ethical and regulatory challenges associated with the technology.

On June 20, an audience of 250 engineers, technologists and tech leaders attended BetaKit Talks: AI in Action, hosted by Intuit Canada, a limited series event designed to convene important conversations within the technology sector.

(Read more)

Putting their chips on the table

Finding a first customer is often the most challenging hurdle for a deeptech startup.

For qScire, a quantum software company based in Santiago, Chile, accessing their target customers Intel, AMD, and Qualcomm, some of the biggest names in computing, seemed almost impossible. That’s why Claudio Fernando Arenas, CEO of qScire, turned his gaze north.

“Chile is not very well known for building or designing chips, so we had to move to a place that has a connection with this industry,” said Arenas.

(Read more)

Startupfest is back for its biggest year yet!

The founder-fist event will return to Montréal on July 10-12, 2024, boasting its most impressive lineup of world-class content, 1:1 opportunities with mentors, and countless networking opportunities. It’s also home to hundreds of thousands in investment prizes and opportunities for founders.

Register now to access Betakit’s exclusive 15% discount

Funding, Acquisitions, and Layoffs

VAN – Raven Indigenous Outcomes Funds – $20.4M
TOR – Chexy – $4.1M CAD
TOR – Waabi – $275M CAD
TOR – Vosyn – $2.2M 
TOR – Pok Pok – $6M
TOR – DMZ Ventures launches $5M CAD fund
TOR – Healwell acquires two companies
TOR – CABHI deploys $9.5M CAD to 30 healthtech startups
MTL – BDC commits $250M CAD to minority entrepreneurs
MTL – Nesto acquired CMLS Group
MTL – Finalta Capital – $31M 
MTL – Heylist – $1.6M
MTL – Ability Biologics – $24.7M CAD
MAG – Propulso – $2.6M CAD

The BetaKit Podcast

How Web Summit Vancouver came to be with Casey Lau

“Is this Collision, is this RISE, is this Web Summit? I’m very confused.”

Web Summit co-host Casey Lau joins the podcast from the show floor of the last Collision to evaluate its impact, what Web Summit Vancouver will do for the city, and what the reimagined tech conference might look like when it arrives next year.

On June 25, BetaKit Talks: In the Black will take place at the beautiful StartWell studio, in partnership with Float.

This candid conversation for finance leaders will feature Hanna Zaidi, VP Payments Strategy and CCO at Wealthsimple, Rob Khazzam, CEO & Co-Founder of Float, and Christian Weedbrook, CEO & Founder of Xanadu, in conversation with BetaKit CEO Siri Agrell.

Register to attend this exclusive in-person event, as we continue to convene the conversations that matter to Canadian tech.

Bianca Bharti

Bianca Bharti

Bianca Bharti is the newsletter editor at BetaKit, where she spearheads coverage and analysis of tech news in related products. Before BetaKit, Bianca covered the nexus of markets, industries and policy in a variety of formats as a reporter for the Financial Post. There, she won silver in SABEW's 2021 Best in Business Journalism Awards in the personal finance category for one of her pieces. In her free time, she enjoys swapping her reporter hat for a baseball cap to hit up some hiking trails with her dog. She also weirdly loves debating monetary policy.

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