I attended a global pitch event yesterday and I hope this trend continues. The showcase was hosted by Toronto-based private incubator Incubes and Chicago-based incubator 1871, which boasts over 100,000 square feet of space devoted to start-up companies, all tech-related. Six Chicago companies and four Toronto companies made five-minute pitches. The companies were interesting, but even more interesting were the heartfelt remarks from John Tory, Bruce Heyman, Ambassador of the United States to Canada, a recent Obama appointee, former Goldman Sachs executive and true believer in innovation and cross-border cooperation. Sam Sebastian, Managing Director of Google Canada rounded out the all-star podium and added his voice to the call for global collaboration in the innovation world.
It was John Tory who made two thought-provoking comments. He noted that unlike in the United States, where financial leadership is clustered on the East Coast for the most part, while innovation seems to be headquartered on the west coast, in Canada, both the financial and the innovation ecosystems are headed and coexist in close proximity, right here in Toronto. He also declared that his administration would need to “pick up the pace” to match the pace of innovation and would be “looking for ways to say yes to entrepreneurs”.
The event was a great initiative by Ben Zlotnick of Incubes and was sponsored by PwC, Telus and the City of Toronto. This global approach to innovation and entrepreneurship is welcome and heartening.