Elevate Toronto Festival: A Powerful Addition to Canada’s Growing Tech Hub

Elevate Toronto Festival launched this year with huge success, celebrating the best of the Canadian innovation ecosystem and bringing together talent, founders, investors, and corporate innovators to discover, connect, and be inspired.   

The three day technology and innovation festival took over downtown Toronto last week with the theme “Global Ideas Live Here” and provided a unique platform for Canada’s startup and corporate innovation community to showcase their work and network through numerous main stage events, educational presentations, awards ceremonies, and social gatherings.

ElevateAI at MaRS Discovery District

ElevateAI at MaRS Discovery District

Elevate main stage events featured keynote speakers, inspirational talks, and high value networking opportunities and wrapped up with an opening night soiree. Day two Elevate educational events provided attendees with a choice of 8 separate tracks in Health, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR), Growth, Design, Lean Innovation, Fintech/Blockchain, and Work, merging together at the end of the day for an “epic street party” on King Street West. Attendees were invited inside the headquarters of some of Toronto’s most inspiring companies as part of NewCo Toronto events on day three, which concluded with the 2nd Annual Timmy Awards and the prestigious Spotlight Awards.

Natural Language Processing Centurion, Maluuba, receiving the 2017 Spotlight Award from host Farah Nasser

Natural Language Processing Centurion, Maluuba, receiving the 2017 Spotlight Award from host Farah Nasser

Elevate Toronto Festival team at the 2017 Spotlight Awards

Elevate Toronto Festival team at the 2017 Spotlight Awards

ElementAI co-founder and Deep Learning pioneer, Yoshua Bengio, took the stage at Elevate Toronto Festival’s ElevateAI track to share his views on the importance of advancing research and bringing academia and industry together.  When discussing the role of Canada in the AI revolution, Bengio noted that “we had the foresight to invest in something risky…and we built something in terms of critical mass.”

ElementAI co-founder and Deep Learning Pioneer Yoshua Bengio in a fireside chat with ElementAI's SVP of  Research at ElevateAI 2017

ElementAI co-founder and Deep Learning Pioneer Yoshua Bengio in a fireside chat with ElementAI’s SVP of Research.  ElevateAI, 2017

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, Toronto’s startup and tech community has exploded over the past few years, especially in areas such as AI and Fintech, thereby attracting private and public investment.

In March 2017, the Federal Government committed $125M to launch a Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy aimed at promoting international investment and collaboration between Canada’s main AI hubs in Montréal, Toronto-Waterloo, and Edmonton. Ontario is investing $50M, together with over 30 private companies who have committed a combined total of $80M, to support the Toronto-based Vector Institute for AI. Moreover, in 2016, Toronto became the home base of NextAI, a global innovation hub for artificial intelligence, launched with initial funding of $5M through a partnership between some of Canada’s largest corporations (including RBC, Magna, BDC Capital, and Scotiabank). Toronto will also become the home of Canada’s second Google Brain lab as well as Uber’s new autonomous car lab.

The potential of emerging technologies to disrupt and transform industry brings about great challenges, and yet even greater opportunities for innovation and economic growth for business and for Canada as a global technology hub.

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