A joint effort between Communitech and other partners and sponsors of True North 2019 have come together to offer a stunning $1-million prize.
The Leaders Prize is a national competition open to developers of artificial intelligence (AI) programs, with a focus on developing solutions to current issues in society and industry. Other than identifying problems that AI could be used to resolve, the prize is an incentive to bring AI developers into the spotlight, inspiring more technology developers to consider working with AI.
The initiative is a collaborative effort between Communitech and corporate sponsors the Schulich Foundation and the Leaders Fund, as well as their longtime academic partner, the University of Waterloo.
2019 will be the second year of the True North conference, after Communitech merged its Tech Leadership and Techtoberfest events into three days of talks, concerts and networking opportunities at True North.
According to Samantha Clark, public relations manager at Communitech, True North is bringing together partners old and new to promote “technology for good,” an effort to promote local technology developers to find solutions to issues facing society and industry.
“In terms of True North as a brand, not just Communitech, the conference and the festival itself really isn’t something that has been done in Waterloo Region before — not to this scale,” Clark said. “It’s not just a conference where people come and mingle and network and they go home at the end of the day and they forget what it is they heard, the topics that were discussed. This is something with the Leader’s Prize and then we also have the tech(nology) for good declaration, these are companies and individuals that are getting involved for reasons that go beyond just brand recognition.”
For 2019, True North is looking to expand further into downtown Kitchener for concerts, tours and film screenings related to the conference. Clark also revealed Communitech’s desire to bring conference events to uptown Waterloo for 2020.
Longtime partner University of Waterloo, with which Communitech operates the Velocity incubator, have created more than 330 companies that have raised $800 million over the last 10 years, according to Matthew Grant, director of media relations at the university.
More important than visibility from the incubator and partnership is “promoting entrepreneurship and in promoting economic development, and technology development …. We do everything possible to give the companies that are generated here exposure,” Grant said.
Since 1997, Communitech has developed partnerships and programs in Waterloo Region to promote entrepreneurs and make the region a hub for the rapidly growing technology sector. The 2019 True North conference will take place June 19-20 and will have many attractions, from guest speakers, concerts and tours for locals and visitors to discover how technology affects Waterloo Region.