Techvibes held the seventh annual Canadian Innovation Awards last night at the beautiful Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in downtown Toronto. The awards brought the most cutting-edge companies and innovative entrepreneurs in the country together to celebrate each other’s successes as well as Canada’s growth as a technology powerhouse.
The top awards of the night went to Wealthsimple for Startup of the Year; BroadbandTV CEO and founder Shahrzad Rafati for Entrepreneur of the Year; Michele Romanow for Angel Investor of the Year; and Zoom.ai for New Startup of the Year.
Toronto Mayor John Tory addressed the 400-plus in attendance with thoughts of Canada’s recent prowess in the technology world.
“You represent the future not only in terms of new jobs but also in preserving and transforming the jobs in this city,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job telling our own story. We’ve got to go out and brag about these finalists and the people in this room.”
In total, winners were crowned in 12 categories, nine of which are brand new this year, such as Breakthrough Technology and Media & Entertainment. The new categories allowed for the community to better hone in on and recognize leaders in specific sectors.
Wealthsimple was recognized for their continuing work in redefining what it means to be a fintech innovator in Canada, a country that is already bursting at the seams with financial ingenuity already. The company, helmed by 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year Michael Katchen, raised a $65 million funding round just this week, and 2017 saw a previous $50 million raise along with expansion overseas into the U.K.
Shahrzad Rafati has had quite the year at BBTV. Her recognition as Entrepreneur of the Year comes after years of dedication to Canada’s media industry and amassing a company that is worth at least 10 figures, according to Rafati herself. Rafati has led BBTV to become the third-largest video service, behind only Facebook and Google, garnering more than 30 billion monthly impressions.
Michele Romanow has been all over Canada’s tech world as of late, appearing as a Dragon on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, founding Clearbanc in 2016, and as this year’s Angel Investor of the Year, choosing some of the most innovative companies to invest equity and lend mentorship to. Romanow has invested in Tapplock, Daily Delivery, and Startup of the Year winner this year, Wealthsimple, among many others.
Zoom.ai is just over two years old, but already have nothing left to prove in terms of what they have achieved in the Canadian AI space. As the New Startup of the Year winners, Zoom.ai have aced several pitch competitions, made their first acquisition, and launched a formal partnership with Microsoft—and that’s only over the past year.
The other winners at this year’s Canadian Innovation Awards included Mealshare for Social Impact; eSight for Breakthrough Technology; Kindred for Manufacturing & Robotics; Wave for Financial Services; Bluedot for Health & Wellness; Shopify for Retail & Hospitality; ecobee for Energy & Sustainability; and Diply for Media & Entertainment.
The Canadian Innovation Awards were founded by Techvibes in 2011 as the Canadian Startup Awards. The awards rebranded this year to better recognize the massive success many Canadian technology companies have found over the past seven years and the overall evolution of Canada’s technology industry into the global leader it is today.
Techvibes would like to thank the sponsors of this year’s Canadian Innovation Awards: The City of Toronto, The Province of Ontario, MaRS, NEXT Canada, Salesforce, Interac, BDO, RBC, Rogers, KPMG, TorStar, Borealis AI, StartUp HERE Toronto, Fasken, Blakes, OMERS Ventures, Osler, Real, ScaleUP Ventures, FGS, BCIC, Elevate Toronto.