TORONTO, Aug. 15, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today 12 of NEXT Canada’s most promising ventures unveiled their startup pitches at the organization’s 7th annual Venture Day, which highlighted the top startups in two of its accelerator programs. NEXT Canada, a national non-profit focused on fostering the next generation of high impact Canadian entrepreneurs, hosted over 250 investors, mentors, donors and partners at MaRS Discovery District for the startup showcase. The pitches included companies that are leading innovating across a number of industries including healthcare, fashion and fintech.  Next 36 startup Orbityl and Next Founders startup LevelJump were awarded the Outstanding Venture prize in their respective programs.

Venture Day marks the culmination of NEXT Canada’s two spring/summer programs: Next 36, which is geared towards young founders of early stage businesses; and Next Founders, which focuses on founder development for existing startups with significant traction. The programs equip participants with the tools, education, mentorship and network they need to successfully build and grow a company. Ventures are also eligible for up to $60,000 in seed capital.  In total 21 companies participated in this year’s Next 36 program, and 14 companies participated in Next Founders.

“In seven short months, NEXT Canada has made me a more confident and competent entrepreneur,” said Kristina Pearkes, co-founder of Orbityl and new graduate from the Mechanical Engineering program at McGill University. “Starting a company is difficult and scary, especially if you don’t have a support network. The mentors, professors, and experts we’ve connected with through this program have guided and inspired us, and they’ve helped to put our company on a path to success.”

At the end of Venture Day, top companies/entrepreneurs were presented with awards that highlighted their progress and achievements during the program. This year the alumni achievement award was also renamed in honour of Geoff Taber, an Osler partner and NEXT Canada supporter. The award recipients were:

  • Outstanding Venture (Next 36): Orbityl (Co-founded by Sean Kaiser and Kristina Pearkes)
  • Outstanding Venture (Next Founders): LevelJump (Founded by David Bloom)
  • Satchu Prize: Sean Hudson, Co-founder of PropelHQ
  • Hepburn Valedictorian Award (Next 36): Tricia Jose, Co-founder of Sprout
  • Next Founders Valedictorian: Patrick Poirier, Co-founder of EruditeAI
  • Geoff Taber Alumni Achievement Award: Emilie Cushman, Co-founder of Kira Talent

NEXT Canada launched its third program NextAI in October 2016 to focus on commercially-viable artificial intelligence ventures. The program is open to entrepreneurs, researchers and scientists from around the world who are looking to launch AI-enabled ventures out of Toronto, which is quickly becoming a global leader in the artificial intelligence space. Venture Day for the first cohort of NextAI will be held on September 20, 2017. NextAI is generously supported by Founding Partners, BDC Capital, Magna, RBC and Scotiabank.

Applications for the 2018 cohort of Next 36 are now open and available online. Applications for the 2018 cohort of NextAI will open September 20, and applications for the 6th cohort of Next Founders program will open in early 2018.

About NEXT Canada
NEXT Canada is a national nonprofit focused on increasing national prosperity through innovation and entrepreneurship. NEXT Canada was formerly known as The Next 36, a program founded in 2010 by a group of entrepreneurs, business leaders and academics.

With a strong belief in founder development, NEXT Canada uses a blend of mentorship, education and networking that inspires driven Canadians to disrupt industries and build globally relevant companies. NEXT Canada is supported by generous National Partners including EY, Osler Hoskin & Harcourt and Power Corporation.

For further details please contact:

Jon French
Director, Marketing & Communications, NEXT Canada
(647) 259-8943