At its launch event in July at the top of the CN Tower, Toronto Mayor John Tory said that “Elevate Toronto will become a marquee event for the city to showcase its innovation ecosystem.”
With less than a month to go, Toronto’s three-day festival showcasing the best of Canada’s tech ecosystem is shaping up to be quite the marquee event. As an Elevate Toronto media partner, BetaKit is here to provide you with all the information you need to know to get the most out of the festival.
Elevate Toronto is founded on three core values: Diversity is our Strength, we Disrupt Together, and that It’s our Time. “While our focus is on innovation, these core values are deeply ingrained into the festival,” said Elevate Toronto CEO and co-founder, Razor Suleman. Below, Suleman explains how each value informs the tech festival’s focus and agenda.
Diversity is our Strength
“We believe that everyone has a different perspective, everyone has a voice to be heard, and everyone brings their own gifts. We’re not going to win in Canada by excluding half of the available talent pool required to build and scale global companies.”
“If you look at the US, the innovation ecosystem is on the west coast in Silicon Valley. The financial ecosystem is on the east coast in New York. We’re so fortunate that in Toronto, they’re all in the same place. We need to figure out how startups and corporate innovators collaborating together is going to create truly made-in-Canada solutions that scale globally.
“We’re really passionate about making this a community driven initiative. Elevate Toronto is up to 50 partners, and we’ll probably be closer to 100 by the festival launch.”
It’s our Time
“It’s time to be proud of what’s happening in Canada. The next wave of technology is going to be determined by AI, FinTech, blockchain. Well, we’re global leaders in that. It’s early days, but we’re really well-positioned to ride the next wave. Now is the time to recruit talent into our startups so they can become scale-ups.”
Elevate Toronto Day 1 (September 12th)
The focus for Day 1 of Elevate Toronto is to showcase the city as the next global tech ecosystem, proving that Global Ideas Live Here. Taking over the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Day 1 will feature impressive keynotes, inspirational talks and curated high-value networking, followed by the Elevate Celebrate opening party.
Attendees will hear from speakers like Michele Romanow (CBC Dragon and Clearbanc co-founder), Mayor Tory, Julie Hanna (Kiva founder and CEO), Salim Ismail (Exo Works chairman and Singularity University founding executive director), and many more!
ELEVATE MAIN STAGE
Where: Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
Where: Sony Centre for the Performing Arts
Elevate Toronto Day 2 (September 13th)
Day 2 is when Elevate takes over the city of Toronto! Day 2 features Elevate Educate, 8 separate tracks across the city showcasing Toronto’s tech talent. Elevate attendees will choose one Elevate Educate track for the day and hunker down to receive insightful conversation from thought leaders on the cutting edge of tech.
Where: MaRS Discovery District
Elevate AI will explore Canada’s role in building the new wave of technology disrupting all industries, and the pervasive impact AI will have on humanity. Featuring speakers such as Geoffrey Hinton (UofT Emeritus Professor of Computer Science and Google Engineering Fellow), Yoshua Bengio (Element AI co-founder), and Candice Faktor (Faktory Ventures founder), Element AI will also ask how Toronto can produce and retain the talent necessary to build the world’s best AI ecosystem.
Where: Toronto Reference Library
In a new era of digital connection, patients are transitioning from passive healthcare recipients to active value-seeking consumers. Featuring speakers such as Melinda Richter (Head of Johnson & Johnson JLABS), and Bill Charnetski (Ontario’s Chief Health Innovation Strategist), Elevate Health will address the intersection of health technology and the patient.
The notion of work is transforming at an unprecedented pace and scale. Featuring speakers such as Ben Zifkin (Hubba founder and CEO), Kathryn Hume (Integrate.AI VP), and Jeremy Auger (D2L Chief Strategy Officer), Elevate the Workforce will investigate the rapid technological advancements affecting employers and employees alike.
Taking place blocks from the heart of Canada’s Financial District, Elevate FinTech+BlockChain will provide a deep discussion on the emerging financial services innovation in Canada. Featuring speakers such as Leen Li (Wealthsimple CFO and GM) and Hamed Abbasi (Plooto co-founder and CEO), Elevate FinTech+Blockchain will also showcase companies collaborating with personal financial services and financial institutions.
Where: Artscape Daniels Spectrum
Elevate Design will lead a conversation about the importance and the breadth of design thinking in Canada. Featuring speakers such as Sara Diamond (OCAD University President), Les Mandelbaum (Founder & CEO UMBRA), and Brittney Kuczynski (Founding Director, Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards), Elevate Design will show how design allows companies to stay ahead of their customers and compete in a global marketplace.
Where: The House of VR
Presented by the CFC Media Lab in partnership with the House of VR, Elevate AR/VR will present the latest data and insights on the state virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and immersive media technologies. Elevate AR/VR will seek to answer these questions: when will immersive media tech hit the mainstream? How fast is the market growing? And will this emerging industry live up to the hype?
ELEVATE LEAN INNOVATION
Where: Rangle.io office
Elevate Lean Innovation will focus on the shifting focus of corporations and enterprises to think like startups. Featuring speakers such as Farhan Thawar (Helpful co-founder & CTO) and Dave Dame (Scotiabank Digital Factory Agile Leader), Elevate Lean Innovation will teach you how you can reach your customers online and on mobile, at all times, enable creative teams to launch new innovations quickly, respond rapidly to competitors, and reduce costs significantly.
Where: Toronto Board of Trade
Elevate Growth will features Canada’s leading founders and executives sharing their unique experiences and lessons learned in creating some of the nation’s biggest startup successes. With speakers such as Anthony Lacavera (Globalive founder and chairman) and Melissa Nightingale (Raw Signal Group founding partner), topics covered include the mindset required for success, facing adversity, the type of leadership required for a fast changing world, as well as a wealth of actionable business advice for scale-up stage companies.
KING WEST SOCIAL
After Elevate Educate comes to a close, King West Social maintains Elevate’s hold on Toronto! The city’s most innovative tech companies and startups will take over venues along King Street West to connect, have fun, and continue the conversation from Elevate Educate.
Maybe you want to join TribalScale and Crowdlinker at Brassai, Intelex at Early Mercy, or hang with Wattpad and the Upside Foundation at BrightLane. Maybe you want to sing karaoke with TWG and their live band(!) or play arcade games with Q4 Inc. Whatever your choice, your Elevate Toronto Festival pass will get you in the door to these events and many more.
Elevate Toronto Day 3 (September 14th)
Elevate Toronto Day 3 features a little bit of everything! NewCo takes over as the showcase of Toronto company culture, moving from King West to tech offices all across the city. Two important celebrations of Canadian tech then close out Elevate Toronto.
Continuing Elevate’s focus on showcasing Toronto’s tech ecosystem to the world, NewCo lets festival attendees visit companies of their choice throughout the city and learn about them first-hand from leaders and CEOs, right inside their offices.
Over 45 different companies will open their doors to Elevate Toronto attendees, including Airbnb, Element AI, FreshBooks, Google, Shopify, Wealthsimple, and League (see the full list here).
With your Elevate Toronto Festival pass, you have access to NewCo. But don’t delay in securing your tickets – many office spaces feature limited capacity, and will fill up quickly!
Where: Four Seasons Toronto
Now entering its third year, the Spotlight Awards are a celebration of Canadian tech success, honouring companies that have achieved unicorn ($1 billion valuation) or centurion ($100 million valuation) status in the past year.
Hosted this year at the swanky Four Seasons in Yorkville, this will be the first year the Spotlight Awards are open to the public, with limited tickets available to Elevate Toronto attendees (attending the Spotlight Awards requires a special All-Access festival pass, which can be purchased here at a discount thanks to BetaKit). Proceeds from this year’s Spotlight Awards gala will be donated to Ladies Learning Code.
Go here to learn more about the Spotlight Awards, and see the 2017 unicorn and centurion winners.
Where: Telus House
Created by Tech in Motion, The Timmy Awards celebrate regional tech communities and the companies and individuals leading the way to create the best places for tech professionals to work. This year, Toronto is celebrating its 2nd annual Timmy Awards and will award companies and/or individuals in the following categories: Best Tech Startup, Best Tech Manager, Best Tech Work Culture, and Best Tech Workplace for Diversity. You can submit your nomination here.
Kicking off the evening with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, music, and product demos from some of the best companies in Toronto tech, the awards ceremony will take place mid-evening to reveal all 2017 winners. The Timmy Awards are open to all Elevate Toronto festival attendees, who can sign up here or just show up with their badge!