NEXT Canada names winners of 2020 virtual Venture Day

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On Thursday, 11 NEXT Canada ventures pitched their startup to an audience of business leaders, partners, alumni, and investors, at NEXT Venture Day.

The virtual event concluded this year’s Next 36, Next AI and Next Founders accelerator programs.

NEXT is showcasing 12 out of 80 graduating ventures spanning multiple verticals.

NEXT Canada’s programs provide entrepreneurs with access to capital, education, mentorship, and networking in order to build and scale a company. Through Venture Day, NEXT showcased 12 out of 80 graduating ventures, which spanned AI, finance, security, mental health, cleantech, sustainable fashion, and diagnostics.

Notably, Venture Day was one of the many Canadian tech events to be held virtually this year. All of the organization’s accelerator programs were also delivered virtually due to COVID-19.

“Faced with a global pandemic, limited resources and financial uncertainty, we could have shuttered our doors in order to weather the storm. Instead, we persevered, and delivered our programs virtually, supporting and accelerating 80 of Canada’s most promising entrepreneurs,” NEXT Canada said in a statement.

Some tech startups in this year’s graduating cohorts from Next 36, Next AI, and Next Founders include Furnishr and MinervaAI. Furnishr, founded in 2016, is a furnishing software platform that designs and delivers items for beautifully furnished rooms in a single day.

RELATED: Jon French departs NEXT Canada to take entrepreneurship role at University of Toronto

Vancouver-based MinervaAI has an automated solution aimed to provide faster, smarter, and more compliant financial crime investigations. The idea is to augment the human investigator and increase investigator productivity with data aggregation, data curation, automation, documentation, and deep learning. The company also recently participated in Acceleprise’s cohort.

As part of the event, NEXT Canada announced several award winners, including the top pitch of Venture Today. Winners include:

RBC People’s Choice: Moment Technology

Moment Technology is replacing diesel generators for remote communities by repurposing electric vehicle batteries into sustainable energy storage. Moment was selected as the top pitch at Moment.

The Hepburn Valedictorian Award: Aileen Agada, BeBlended

The Hepburn Valedictorian is selected by fellow entrepreneurs as the individual who elevated the experience and contributed the most value to the 2020 cohort of Next 36. BeBlended is an online marketplace that connects black women with freelance hair stylists and tailored hair products.

The W. Galen Weston Top Entrepreneur Award: Jesse Abrams, Homewise

Homewise offers a platform that allows users to quickly secure a mortgage from a selection of banks and lenders. The W. Galen Weston Top Entrepreneur Award celebrates the top entrepreneur of the 2020 Next Founders program, as voted by their peers.

The Next AI Valedictorian Award: Zach McMahon, LUCID

LUCID creates AI music therapy products that increase access to methods for improving mental health and wellness. The Valedictorian is selected by fellow entrepreneurs as the individual who elevated the experience and contributed the most value to the 2020 Next AI Cohort.

The Scotiabank Outstanding Contribution to Society Award: Moment Technology

The Scotiabank Outstanding Contribution to Society award is given to a venture that has made the most significant contribution to promoting social and/or environment change to our society. Moment Technology creates renewable power storage by repurposing electric vehicle batteries, increasing access to reliable and sustainable energy.

EY Women in Tech Award: Patricia Thaine, Private AI

Private AI is developing privacy-preserving machine learning and natural language processing tools. The EY Women in Tech Award celebrates high-potential female entrepreneurs building businesses within the tech community and supporting their peers through mentoring, investing or donating.

Tim Price Alumni Award: Katya Kudashkina, Cultura

This award is to recognize the remarkable things that NEXT Canada’s alumni are doing by giving back to the alumni community. Cultura offers an app that uses machine learning to identify what decisions a CEO would make in a given scenario to help junior employees make on-brand decisions.

Geoff Taber Alumni Achievement Award: Ron Glozman, Chisel

This award honours the late Geoff Taber’s memory in recognition of his contributions to NEXT Canada since inception and to the Canadian tech community at large. Chisel helps commercial insurance carriers and brokers double their business by automating mundane underwriting and brokering processes.

The Satchu Prize: Patricia Thaine, Private AI

The Satchu Prize is awarded in recognition of outstanding performance in the program and a demonstrated potential to lead Canada’s next generation of high impact entrepreneurs. Private AI works to simplify privacy regulation compliance through on-device text, image, and video anonymization. The idea being to make it easy to maintain customer trust through private data storage and cloud processing.

Image source Unsplash. Photo by John Schnobrich.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast