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Elevate Toronto: Diversity, Disruption and #itsourtime

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In his keynote address, Razor Suleman, CEO and Co-founder at Elevate Toronto surveyed the sizable audience of 3000 and quickly determined that more than half of the people in the room were born outside of Canada – setting the tone for one of Elevate Toronto’s key themes: ‘Diversity is our Strength’.

With Toronto being identified as one of the best cities in the world for emerging technology, it’s no wonder why many people come here to live and work. With half of the country’s fintech employees, Toronto is home to the Canadian headquarters of some of the world’s largest companies.

The main stage of the event was shared by a wide range of professional disciplines including members of both the private and public sectors, thought leaders, innovators, investors, educators, students, and more. Each party sharing their unique perspectives while explaining how collaboration within a diverse group of individuals is shaping and influencing what happens next for our city.

Another key theme of the event was ‘Disrupt Together’.

With wide scope of technology-based streams to take in; including AI, AR/VR, Design, Growth, Health, Lean innovation, Work and FinTech + Blockchain, there was no shortage of heavy hitters including Blockchain guru Don Tapscott.

As a given, I attended the FinTech + Blockchain stream – a full day of sessions at OneEleven.

The second session of the FinTech + Blockchain stream was a panel discussion that covered how FinTechs and banks are working together to deliver great customer experiences by tapping into the scale that the banks offer and the services offered by organizations such as Wealthsimple, Borrowell, and Ratehub.

This panel covered both sides of what banks are looking for when talking to FinTechs and what startups need to prep for these discussions. FinTechs do one thing and do it well. The challenge for the banks is to figure out where they should be placing their bets. IBM ended the day with real life use cases on how Blockchain is being used.

The last key theme of the event was ‘It’s Our Time’. If you’re in Toronto you’ve no doubt seen and experienced changes across multiple industries. Last week, Toronto announced the opening of the Civic Innovation Office to bridge different regions of the city with what’s happening in innovation and technology.

Organizations such as Google Brain, Vector Institute, Perimeter Institute, Institute for Quantum Computing, OCAD Visual Analytics, Communitech, Mars and Ryerson DMZ are conducting intense amounts of research and investing heavily in Toronto.

I’ve witnessed how the technology sector has grown in this city. I have the privilege of working with international organizations as well as local startups to help bring new solutions to market and help drive better experiences for Canadians – so to echo the last theme – it is our time!

For founders, developers, engineers, investors and innovators, Toronto’s tech space offers nearly endless opportunities. Elevate Toronto shone a light of that this year and as a member of the Toronto tech community – we must continue to shine that light brightly.

Quick Facts


  • 48% of Torontonians are foreign-born
  • Toronto boasts the largest financial services sector in Canada, followed by Montreal and Vancouver
  • 20% of post-secondary students in Toronto are registered as international students – the highest globally

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