NorthBridge Consultants Blog

Elevate TechFest Sets the Stage for Canadian AI – Powered Medicine

For the second year in a row, Elevate TechFest, Canada’s largest technology and innovation festival, took over downtown Toronto in September as over 10,000 members of the tech community, including investors, government, media, start-ups, talent and next generation innovators all gathered to “disrupt together, celebrate diversity and inclusiveness, and proudly showcase the best of Canadian innovation.”

As a community driven festival, Elevate provides a shared stage for Canada’s booming high tech startup ecosystem to showcase their work, and to learn and network through numerous events, educational presentations, award ceremonies, and social gatherings. The result is an exceptionally inclusive and collaborative entrepreneurial platform which highlights Canada’s greatest competitive advantage to attract talent and investment for the next generation of innovation.

This is particularly relevant in the fields of AI and health/medical technology, with Canada being uniquely poised to drive AI innovation in the healthcare field as a global leader in AI technology with its universal healthcare system. Canada’s strength in AI and medical technology was emphasized throughout the various Elevate events and tracks by the prevalence of growing companies developing machine learning and digital health solutions with the goal of democratizing AI powered medicine.

Industry leaders such as Al Gore, Eric Schmidt, Tobias Lutke, Minister Navdeep Bains, Whitney Wolfe Herd and Wyclef Jean, shared the main stage on September 25 to discuss the role of technology and collaboration in shaping the future.

Keynote: How Technology Drives Global Change with Al Gore

Keynote: How Technology Drives Global Change with Al Gore

In a fireside chat moderated by co-founder and CEO of Canada Learning Code, Melissa Sariffodeen, Innovation Minister Navdeep Bains discussed the federal Economic Strategy Table interim report and ‘How Canada Wins’ with Tobias Lutke, Shopify CEO and the Chair of the Digital Industries group (that is advising the government on improving the digital economy). The Economic Strategy Tables are a new model for industry-government collaboration that were announced as part of the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan to support economic growth in six key sectors: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health/bio-sciences and resources of the future. According to Lutke, Canada needs more “anchor” or “freight train” companies which have “an outsized impact on the ecosystem.”

Top Canadian AI startups were invited to pitch their ideas for a chance to win $1,000,000 and the attention of international media, investors and global tech leaders at the ElevateR pitch competition taking place as part of the Main Stage events. Finalists Elucid labs and Aifred Health pitched live before Al Gore’s keynote address. Elucid Labs, a Waterloo based company that is developing a non-invasive digital biopsy device for detecting and diagnosing dermatological disease, was named the people’s choice winner. Aifred Health, the runner-up in the competition, is a Montreal based company using machine learning to increase treatment efficacy in mental health by creating a deep-learning based clinical decision tool for physicians to bring personalized medicine to psychiatry.

ElevateR 7

2018 ElevateR Pitch Competition – AI Edition

During the event, Toronto based Daisy Intelligence, an AI software-as-a-service company targeting the retail and insurance industries, announced that they had secured a $5M investment from Espresso Capital. Daisy Intelligence CEO, Gary Saarenvirta, acknowledged government funding programs such as SR&ED in supporting the company.

Aifred’s CEO, David Benrimoh spoke about ‘A new hope for personalized Mental Health’ as part of the Elevate Educate Health track on September 26, which provided a platform for discussions emphasizing the growth and impact of technology solutions in mental health. The track featured keynote discussions on topics such as ‘Democratizing access to mental health using technology’ by Sam Duboc, Chair and CEO of Beacon, and ‘Chat Bot solution for mental health’ by Lexi Kaplin and Alexandra Reeves of Conversation Health.

Using innovation for better access to mental healthcare with Alisa Simon, Hemai Parthasarathy, Sam Duboc, and Sean Kidd.

Adjoining the Health track at Elevate Educate, the Cannabis track featured keynote speakers from federal, academic and industry policy experts, thereby providing a shared stage for an open dialogue for patients, growers, innovators, and healthcare providers on pain management, cannabis legislature, and technology solutions.

Opioid Crisis and the Cannabis Opportunity with Kelly Narine of Aurora, Ed Sellers of the University of Toronto, Dr. Bernard Le Foll, Dr. Michel Verbora from Aleafia and moderator Ying Tam Managing Director, Health Ventures at MaRS

The strength of Canadian Medtech companies was particularly emphasized at the Elevate Educate AI track by several growing startups that are pushing the boundaries of AI powered medical technology. Various companies attended, such as Phenomic AI, which is developing deep learning solutions to automate and accelerate drug discovery; BenchSci, a reagent intelligence platform; Swift Medical, which is developing  the world’s most advanced and comprehensive wound care management software; tealbook, a platform providing centralized supplier  knowledge and discovery, and Cloud DX, a medically accurate, consumer/clinical vital sign platform.

AI Spotlight: Automating Drug Discovery with Oren Kraus of Phenomic AI

AI Spotlight: Automating Drug Discovery with Oren Kraus of Phenomic AI

 

AI Spotlight: How AI Will Transform B2B with Stephany Lapierre of tealbook

AI Spotlight: How AI Will Transform B2B  with Stephany Lapierre of tealbook

The rapid growth of AI and  availability of data in the age of information also raised important ethical discussions on the Elevate AI stage in regards to ownership, trust, use of information, data breaches, questionable data practices, and privacy debates. And there could not be a better time or place for these discussions to occur than in the country that has produced some of the most well known experts in AI, such as deep Learning pioneers Geoffrey Hinton and Joshua Bengio. When discussing the role of Canada in the AI revolution at the 2017 Elevate AI track, Bengio noted that “we had the foresight to invest in something risky…and we built something in terms of critical mass.” As a global leader in disruptive technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, FinTech and Blockchain, which will radically transform how we live, work and interact, Canada is emerging as a lucrative and inclusive epicenter of the advanced technology revolution which is drawing global talent, ideas, and investment. In particular, the startup community in the Waterloo-Toronto tech Corridor has exploded over the past few years, especially in areas such as AI and Medtech, thereby attracting private and public investment. Speaking at the 2018 Elevate TechFest,  Layer 6 AI co-founder and chief AI office for TD Bank, noted that “We are at a unique moment time when this industry around artificial intelligence is first starting to grow and we need to jump on this opportunity… we have an opportunity to transform the world.”

The New Normal? Institutionalizing Ethics in the Age of Algorithm with Hessie Jones, Carolina Bessega,  Ann Cavoukian,and Carol Piovesan,

The New Normal? Institutionalizing Ethics in the Age of Algorithm with Hessie Jones, Carolina Bessega, Ann Cavoukian, and Carol Piovesan.

Trust as a Value Creator: The Georgian Impact Model with Jason Brenier of Georgian Partners
Trust as a Value Creator: The Georgian Impact Model with Jason Brenier of Georgian Partners

Elevate Main Stage, Co-founder and CEO Razor Suleman announced the festival’s 2019 theme, Moonshots, following the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Next year’s festival will welcome acclaimed Canadian astronaut and bestselling author Chris Hadfield as a keynote speaker on the Main Stage. Chris and Helene Hadfield will serve as 2019 Co-chairs of the Elevate Founders Board. “We couldn’t think of anyone better than Chris Hadfield to help us explore far-reaching ideas and the future of tech and innovation at Elevate,” said Suleman.

 

Elevate: Moonshots will run from September 23-27, 2019.

Get your tickets today!

USMCA Trade Deal Reached After Year of Intense Negotiations

Details about the newly renegotiated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) have been released.  This proposal, if ratified, will address disputes in the Canadian automotive and agricultural sectors, the cost of generic drugs in Canada, and online eCommerce.  It does not currently address national security tariffs, but preserves the dispute resolution process from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

News of the USMCA deal sent the Canadian dollar soaring on Monday.  The announcement of the USMCA deal may remove the uncertainty that was  preventing the Bank of Canada from hiking interest rates.  It is anticipated that the Bank of Canada will increase interest rates during the next policy announcement on October the 24th.  Details of the USMCA proposal will be summarized below.

Automotive sector- Trump has agreed that no hard limit will be placed on Canadian automotive exports to the United States.

Agricultural sector- American farmers will gain greater access (3.6 percent) of Canada’s current dairy market, and Canada will dismantle the “Class 7″ dairy ingredient (lower) pricing strategy for protein concentrates, skim milk, and whole milk powder, that  discourages foreign competition in the Canadian market.  The Americans will gain more than twice the market access to the Canadian chicken industry than what was previously negotiated in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as increased access into the Canadian egg and poultry markets.  However, no major concessions will be made on the import and export of beef, pork, and grain.

eCommerce- The threshold of American goods Canadians can purchase online or via mail order without paying duties increases from $20 to $150.  American online and mail-order businesses expect to gain increased market share in Canada.

Prescription drugs- Canada has agreed to extend patent protection for biological pharmaceutical drugs from 8 to 10 years, which means that it will take longer for generic versions of new biological drugs to become available to the Canadian public.  Canada’s diminished control over the price of biologics may potentially pose a fresh challenge for the creation of a national pharmacare plan.

National security tariffs- During the summer, Trump announced that Canada would be subject to tariffs on steel and aluminum.  No agreement has been reached on the removal of these tariffs yet.

Dispute resolution- Trudeau was unequivocal about its inclusion of Chapter 19  in any new pact, which was ultimately agreed upon by the Americans despite protest from US negotiator Robert Lighthizer.  Chapter 19 from the NAFTA agreement spells out the process for companies to request arbitration if they feel that their products have been unfairly impacted by anti-dumping or countervailing duties.  

Canada’s Tech Week: Elevate TechFest 2018

Elevate Techfest, Canada’s largest technology and innovation festival, takes over downtown Toronto from Sept 22 – 27 with a full week of events featuring inspiring speakers, content tracks, and networking events.

It was kicked off this Friday with a three day Hackathon that aims to “tap into our countries collective intelligence and create solutions around some of the toughest urban problems.”  500 hackers, including a mix of students and early career professionals, the youngest being just 7 years old, gathered at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District for the opportunity to win a total of $18,000 by creating the innovative building blocks of a Smart City…”a fully connected urban center that uses technology to improve financial security, housing affordability, environmental sustainability, communication, as well as social and economic equality for its citizens.”

The Hackathon consisted of three main challenges focused on smart economy, connected communities and vibrant living. The first prize winners, StableHacks, took $10,000 and were selected based on a criteria of innovation, impact, use of data & technology and alignment with the challenge as well as data privacy and feasibility.

This week, Keynote speakers such as Al Gore, Whitney Wolfe Herd and Wyclef Jean will take the main stage on Tuesday September 25th to discuss the role of technology and collaboration in shaping the future. Beyond the stage, Elevate will be hosting the Corporate Buyer Zone and the Investor Zone, the ElevateR Pitch, and an exclusive Access Lounge.

More than 10 dedicated Elevate Educate content tracks will be hosted on Wednesday September 26th at various Elevate Village venues throughout downtown Toronto. Each track features a full day of curated programming and networking opportunities in fields such as Artificial Intelligence, Health, Cannabis, Retail, Fintech, and Blockchain.

The Toronto tech and innovation community will be opening its doors on Thursday, September 27, with Elevate Talent, giving participants a mix of programming and behind the scenes access to some of the world’s most innovative companies, founders and thought leaders.

This Year, Elevate is expected to draw over 10,000 guests from investors, government and media to youth, scale ups and talent to “disrupt together, celebrate diversity and inclusiveness, and proudly showcase the best of Canadian innovation.”

 

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Vancouver Lunch & Learn at Fort Tectoria – Government Funding for R&D, Innovation and Growth

Lunch & Learn about maximizing government funding through the various stages of corporate development

Date: Thursday, September 27, 2018
Doors: 11:45 am
Presentation and Q&A: 12 –1:30 pm
Location: Fort Tectoria – 777 Fort St
Register

There are many Government Funding programs available to assist Canadian businesses with expenses related to R&D, new product development, manufacturing process improvements, tapping into international markets and workforce development.

Join this lunch & learn to learn about some of these programs, how they fit in the difference stages of your corporate development, and also about the limitations of government funding and the need for alternate sources of working capital.

Some of the funding programs covered include:

  • SR&ED (Scientific Research & Experimental Development)
  • IRAP (Industrial Research Assistance Program)
  • Innovative Solutions Canada
  • Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS)
  • BCIP (Build in Canada Innovation Program)
  • SDTC (Sustainable Development Technology Canada)
  • Canada Agriculture Partnership / Agri-Innovation
  • Engage, CRD, Mitacs (grants for working with universities)
  • CanExport
  • Eureka, GGI, CIIP (International research collaboration)
  • Hiring & Training Grants

 

A light lunch will be provided.

Please register by email to jaap@northbridgeconsultants.com.

 

About the presenter: Jaap Siekman MSc, PEng, PMP

Jaap is an independent business advisor and representative for NorthBridge Consultants. He educates start-ups and growing companies on Government Funding programs that support R&D and Innovation in Canada.

NorthBridge is a national consultancy firm, with offices in BC, ON and QC.

Jaap has ~28 years’ experience in Engineering, Manufacturing, Product Development and Management in a variety of industries.

Contact:
Ph: 604.562.5209
E: jaap@northbridgeconsultants.com

 

Canadian Agricultural Partnership- Second Intake for Ontario Applications Opening Soon

The new Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP), launched in April 2018, is a five-year, $3B federal-provincial-territorial agreement providing funding to agri-processors.

The second Ontario CAP application intake for producers, processors, and other Agri businesses will be opening from August 7 – 28, 2018.

Provincial CAP programs are being rolled out on a cost-shared (60:40) basis. Ontario’s CAP program offers various streams for agri-producers, processors and other businesses. For example, Ontario processors can apply for funding of up to:

  • $250K for integrating new or novel technological and equipment upgrades (defined as having been adopted by less than 20% of the sector in Ontario, to date) to improve labour productivity.
  • $100K for integrating Enterprise Resource Planning software.

Additional Ontario CAP streams are available to agri-processors to support other activities/initiatives, such as:

  • Food safety and traceability equipment.
  • Ingredient efficiency and waste reduction.
  • Marketing of products outside of Canada and internationally.
  • Monitoring plant pest and treat equipment and training.
  • Improving animal housing, and animal handling equipment with technology.

Is your company looking for funding to support innovation and business growth initiatives? Contact us today to find out how much funding your company could receive.

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  • NorthBridge Consultants' Government Funding Blog is dedicated to bringing businesses news and information to help them identify and access the most appropriate government funding programs.

    We offer opinions and insider information that can provide a pulse on government initiatives, the health of the Canadian economy, and firsthand thoughts from Canadian business owners.

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