Generations and industries converge at Elevate
Canada's largest tech conference took place last month in Toronto and proved to be the event where generations and industries converged to have a dialogue around technology and its future not only for Canada, but for the world and its many challenges. The event took over the city for an entire week and showed that Toronto is ready for the next stage of technological growth.
The innovation corridor (Toronto-Waterloo) has been featured as Canada's Silicon Valley and that is no surprise to many that have worked or visited the region. The city is already considered a top tier tech hub worldwide according to the The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2018 released April of this year, and considered to be adding more tech jobs than any other metropole in the world - including the likes of San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC, combined. What a time to be a Canadian entrepreneur.
In the words of Roy Pereira, CEO of Zoom.ai, "Silicon Valley is actually slightly shrinking. You see places like Toronto growing faster than Silicon Valley". So what made Elevate so massive?
10,000+ guests coming from all over the world
250+ venues all over the GTA
300+ inspiring speakers and leaders
500+ young entrepreneurs engaged
Elevate Techfest - previously called Elevate Toronto - also celebrated Toronto's leadership in AI. Last year, during Elevate, Raquel Urtasun, an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto’s faculty of Computer Science and a star in the AI field, stated on stage that “Toronto was and is at the forefront of AI”. Ms. Urtasun is now the head of ride-sharing giant Uber’s new self-driving car lab in Toronto.
From Sep 21th to 27th the city had a taste of what's about to come. Several companies were inspired by the tech hype and announced some exciting news, such as MaRS' new Innovation Centre at Waterfront Toronto, meters away from Sidewalk Labs’ planned smart city Quayside development. Shopify also went along and announced its new HQ in Toronto by 2021, while Uber expands its driverless hub project in Toronto, putting in more over $150 million into the city's economy.
LOI team was on the ground with 7 LOI Labs team members, ventures and connectors and witnessed a massive and relevant youth presence, not just as attendees but as speakers and entrepreneurial leaders. Hats off to the TD Next Gen event powered by TKS - The Knowledge Society, and their inspiring youth speakers who shared their entrepreneurial journeys and vision for the future.
One of the key takeaways from Elevate was that social innovation is (and should) be in the fabric of what we create everywhere, as our connector Daniela Pico put perfectly in her piece for Riipen:
"...it was a relief to see that social innovation and social responsibility was also a constant theme. The tone was set by Al Gore on the main stage of Elevate who reminded us that as leaders in business it’s our responsibility to make sure that business is good for the 3p’s people, profit, and planet and that we need to think seriously about how this is impacted in the business decisions we make. It is no longer a value add to think about sustainability but rather, a requirement that needs to be embedded in everything we do as businesses."
Canada needs all hands on deck
Although Canada is a leading player in the industry and social innovation has slowly become a top priority not only for our government, but also for the next generation of entrepreneurs, the moment will only last if investments in education in the #nextgen and professionals continue to rise, and the mindset around technology adoption in education keeps being challenged. Canada showed we have the talent, a vibrant and collaborative community, solid startups and partners, and the most importantly - an eager next generation of leaders to bring emerging technologies to new heights.
Are you next?