Elevate kicked off this year’s tech and innovation festival on its main stage by announcing its acquisition of the Canadian Innovation Exchange (CIX) and a partnership with MaRS and Kids Help Phone to launch a $2-million innovation challenge aimed at improving youth mental health.
Founded in 2008, CIX is an annual conference meant to showcase and award Canada’s most promising early-stage and scaling startups. CIX says it attracts North American VCs and private equity investors to a space that facilitates networking and deal flow, in addition to its annual awards programs.
Elevate says the acquisition will strengthen its ability to support startups and scaleups across Canada, connect the innovation ecosystem year-round, and provide companies with access to capital.
Lauren Crerar, CIX’s executive director, said in a statement that she is “thrilled” that CIX is joining Elevate and will “look forward” to working with the Elevate team.
Meanwhile, Elevate, Kids Help Phone, and MaRS have partnered and intend to raise $2 million for Canadian startups to define, discover, and pilot AI and e-mental health solutions for youth. Venture philanthropist Jay Hayden kicked off the challenge with a pledge of $500,000 in seed funding.
“This is only the start,” said Lisa Zarzeczny, co-founder and CEO of Elevate. “With MaRS Discovery District & Kids Help Phone, we want to inspire Elevate’s incredible network of startups and innovators to join this challenge and help us build the future of mental health for youth from coast to coast to coast.”
The challenge’s detailed request for solutions is expected to be announced early in 2024. It’s notable that AI-based solutions for mental health, such as chabots, have been piloted recently and quickly shut down due to giving dangerous advice.
“Suicide is the second-highest cause of death for youth in Canada,” said Katherine Hay, president & CEO of Kids Help Phone. “The youth mental health crisis is more prevalent and acute than it has ever been. And we know this is not going away, unless we all disrupt this landscape, again.
BetaKit is an Elevate media partner. This year, BetaKit is programming Elevate’s AI and FinTech stages, which will feature panels on the future of crypto exchanges operating in Canada and Canadian AI regulation, among other topics.
Image courtesy of Elevate on Flickr