Canada’s leading innovation conference broke all records this year.
Held this Monday and Tuesday at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Discovery well exceeded previous attendee rates attracting 3,100 attendees and close to 500 exhibits.
“We are extremely pleased by the success of the conference and unprecedented engagement of Ontario’s innovation community in this celebration and showcase of Ontario’s leading edge technologies and talented entrepreneurs,” says Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) President and CEO Dr. Tom Corr. “We hope that all who attended found their time there to be highly productive and valuable.”
This year’s Discovery, which was opened by Premier Kathleen Wynne, also drew more than 300 investors, many of them international including a large contingent from China.
The show generated significant excitement over its high-profile keynotes, trending on Twitter as number one in Canada at various points during the two days. Attendees heard from Chad Hurley, co-founder of You Tube; Eric Ries, pioneer of the lean start-up movement; Neil Jacobstein, an international expert in artificial Intelligence from Singularity University and David Roberts, also from Singularity and a world's top expert on disruptive innovation and exponentially advancing technology.
Several news announcements were made at the conference including an announcement by Premier Wynne of a $25 million commitment to a Scale Up Ventures Fund to provide early-stage start-ups with early-stage capital, mentorship and market access. Led by Nadir Mohamed, former CEO of Rogers Communications, the fund’s activity will be supported by a leadership council of more than 30 Canadian business executives. OCE Board Chair Michael Nobrega was among those named to the council.
The Hon. Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, also announced a new Ontario Social Impact Vouchers pilot to help the next generation of entrepreneurs by providing access to training and mentoring to launch their ideas into businesses. It that will provide 125 vouchers worth up to $3,000 each to eligible social entrepreneurs to get training specific to their needs.
Other announcements included the federal government’s investment of another $20 million in the Southern Ontario Smart Computing Innovation Platform (SOSCIP) announced by the Hon. Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for FedDev Ontario, and the signing of partnership between OCE and the China Canada Angels Alliance (CCAA) to establish a virtual incubator designed to helps start-ups prepare their business for the Chinese market. The China Angels Mentorship Program (CAMP) matches approved start-ups with investors, potential partners and mentors in and from China.