Happly.Ai, Verano.ai, aiphrodite.ai among winners at INNOVATEwest 2024 

INNOVATEwest 2024
The inaugural INNOVATEwest wrapped up in Vancouver this week.

INNOVATEwest touched down in Vancouver this week, and several Canadian startups and teams are going home with some sweet, sweet prize money.

Thousands of members of Canada’s tech ecosystem gathered at the Vancouver Convention Centre for the inaugural INNOVATEwest conference. The event featured conversations with Canadian tech leaders and investors spanning artificial intelligence (AI), FinTech, SaaS, venture capital, and more.

INNOVATEwest featured several pitch competitions and challenges, with all winners announced on The BetaKit Keynote Stage.

Headliners at INNOVATEwest included Koho’s Daniel Eberhard, Wealthsimple’s Mike Katchen, Clio’s Jack Newton, and author Guy Kawasaki, among many others.

In addition to hosting keynotes and panel discussions, the conference featured several pitch competitions and challenges, with all winners announced on The BetaKit Keynote Stage (BetaKit is a INNOVATEwest media partner). Here are INNOVATEwest’s winners.

The Firehood Angel Camp connects women founders with angel investors who pre-committed capital to be deployed at INNOVATEwest. Participating startups have a chance to receive funding and mentorship from some of Canada’s top women angel investors.

The competition saw applications from 99 companies and participation from 24 angel investors, including the Firehood Angels, Forum Ventures, Startup TNT, and Ideas for Impact.

Abhivyakti Ahuja, founder of Toronto-based aiphrodite.ai, claimed the victory. The startup offers an adtech software platform that scores visual media based on audience engagement, before you post, by utilizing AI. The startup secured $130,000 in funding from the Firehood Angel Camp. In second place came Vancouver-based AgTechs startup Insporos, which took home $25,000 in funding.

The Firehood Angel Camp saw applications from 99 companies, and participation from 24 angel investors. (Image courtesy of Danielle Graham)

The Grizzly Pursuit saw 25 startups from across the country pitch to a roster of judges that included Chris Neumann of Panache Ventures, Leah Nguyen of InBC, Marvin Liao of Diaspora VC, Omi Velasco of Graphite Ventures, and Wade Preston from the National Bank of Canada.

Over the course of two days, those 25 finalists were whittled down to six, with Thierry Lindor, CEO and co-founder at Happly.Ai, snagging first place and the $20,000 prize. Lindor’s startup, Montréal-based Happily.AI, uses AI to help users find, apply for, and qualify for grants, procurements, tax credits and other programs based on their unique profile.

With his iconic quote, ‘We don’t match you with potential stalkers, we match you with potential entrepreneurs,’ Thierry captured our hearts and minds with his style and approach,” INNOVATEwest organizers wrote in a LinkedIn post yesterday.

Coming in at second place was Clay Swerdelian, president and co-founder at Verano.AI. uses large language models and generative AI to streamline compliance workflow, allowing organizations to mitigate risk in real-time.

INNOVATEwest also featured a hackathon that saw student teams from western post-secondary institutions compete to race an autonomous remote-controlled car using AI and machine learning. The winners included Phobos3 from Northeastern University, as well as Konrad Jasman and Kira Hodge, both from the University of Victoria.

INNOVATEwest is hosted by Cube Business Media, the Vancouver conference and tradeshow company behind Canadian tech events like SAAS NORTH, TechExit.io, and Tech Talent North.

Feature image courtesy of INNOVATEwest.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle is a Vancouver-based writer with 5+ years of experience in communications and journalism and a lifelong passion for telling stories. For over two years, she has reported on all sides of the Canadian startup ecosystem, from landmark venture deals to public policy, telling the stories of the founders putting Canadian tech on the map.

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