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article imageElevate Toronto to bring city’s startup ecosystem to global stage

By Jack Derricourt     Jul 12, 2017 in Business
Toronto already has the ‘Hollywood North’ reputation going for it. The City is a widely sought-after film destination, and the Toronto International Film Festival has put the city on the creative map.
Toronto will soon be able to celebrate another addition to the city with the launch of Elevate Toronto, a tech festival aimed at raising the profile of the city’s growing innovation ecosystem.
From Sept. 12-14, Elevate Toronto is a three-day festival running at the tail end of the Toronto International Film Festival. The event was announced at a packed event atop the CN Tower, and is hosted by a number of organizations including the City of Toronto, NewCo, MoveTheDial, MaRS, Startup Here Toronto, Espresso Capital and Wattpad.
While anyone looking out the windows on that foggy morning would have been correct that the festival’s organizers had their heads in the clouds, the event is anything but wishful thinking.
READ MORE: Toronto is Elevating, and Moving the Dial for Women in Tech
Half a million people from around the world flock to Toronto’s TIFF festival every year, and Elevate will highlight the thriving technology businesses in the city for that same international audience. South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas has facilitated a similar tech festival while crowds come to the city for music and film in the form of SXSW Interactive.
Elevate Toronto aims to showcase the core values of the city’s bustling tech ecosystem: The diversity and inclusion present in Toronto businesses; the collaboration that is occurring between established business groups and startups; and the unique position the city is currently in thanks to local and federal initiatives.
The festival’s programming will highlight the best of Toronto’s innovative ecosystem, with content that focuses on topics such as AI, health and FinTech. TED-style talks and curated networking will allow attendees to share innovative and disruptive ideas. And for the third day of Elevate, attendees will get a chance to visit participating companies to learn about them firsthand.
Toronto Mayor John Tory spoke at the launch, noting how important it is that the city get its name out internationally as a business and tech centre. He was excited to see the startup community coming together to promote the city’s tech and business ecosystem in a vibrant festival format.
“We don’t have any event like that really that celebrates technology… a festival that celebrates our great accomplishments here and how important it is to us."
The Mayor spoke to the strengths he sees in the city’s startup community and its corporations. Tory noted the diverse nature of the talent pool in the city, as well as Toronto’s dual status as the financial and innovation powerhouse in Canada.
“It’s time to showcase all of this. You have to bring people here to see it,” he said. “Together we’re going to be stronger — in sending that message out about the talent pool here, about our embracing of disruption, and about our values.”
Councillor and Advocate for the Innovation Economy Michelle Holland takes a selfie with Mayor Tory.
Councillor and Advocate for the Innovation Economy Michelle Holland takes a selfie with Mayor Tory.
Digital Journal Staff
City Councillor and the Mayor’s Advocate for the Innovation Economy, Michelle Holland, was in attendance at the launch, and she sees great benefits to the City getting on board with Elevate.
“It’s absolutely amazing to be a part of it. They’re going to transform TIFF and transform and elevate the tech ecosystem,” she told Digital Journal. “We punch above our weight and we’re not heard on the global scene. When I’m out there in London, New York and in the Valley, this is the brand that we’re actually lacking. This will help propel (Toronto) and bring that narrative to the forefront and the recognition that Toronto deserves.”
Razor Suleman, CEO and cofounder of Elevate Toronto wants to see innovation and startup community in the city put on the world stage through the exemplification of its core values. His vision of collaboration could be just what it takes to make Elevate Toronto a success.
"It's our time,” said Suleman, “startups and corporate leaders are aligning with the government's innovation agenda creating the perfect circumstances for accelerated growth."
For more information on Elevate Toronto, check out the festival’s website.
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