Elevate arrived at Meridian Hall on Tuesday, featuring a diverse lineup of speakers from tech companies, government, and entertainment, all the way to outer space. Here are BetaKit’s highlights from Elevate Main Stage.
Canadian astronaut and Elevate co-chair Chris Hadfield took to the Main Stage to talk about how the history of human exploration and how it has always driven innovation.
Hadfield, a highly-decorated astronaut, engineer, and pilot, and author of three bestselling books took the audience through the “moonshots” of history, from the first civilizations all the way up to landing on the moon.
“If you’re willing to give yourself a goal, and then fail regularly along the way … you can accomplish incredible things,” Hadfield said. “As we want to continue to prove things not just within our family, but across every circle, what really drives my mind is the underpinning of technology.”
Hadfield also mesmerized the audience with a performance of his now-famous version of David Bowie’s space oddity, that he originally recorded on the International Space Station.
In the afternoon, Finance Minister of Canada Bill Morneau sat down with journalist Vicky Mochama to discuss how the federal government is planning to address some Canadian tech’s top challenges.
The minister, whose government is currently on the campaign trail ahead of the federal election, said one of the most important challenges faced by the government was that of wealth distribution, but that focusing on entrepreneurship was a key way to address wealth inequality and poverty.
“Thinking about this sector is very much about thinking about opportunities, giving people hope that the new emerging economy is going to be an opportunity for people to be successful,” Morneau said. “They’re not going to be left behind because they’re waiting.”
He also discussed how the government has invested in artificial intelligence research, including the Toronto-based Vector Institute as well as a number of research organizations in Montreal, which is minting a strong reputation in the sector. The minister said his view is that investment in these initiatives like these is critical to advancing Canada’s reputation on a global stage.
“The reason we invested significantly in [AI] is that we see this as a fundamental building block for our economy going forward,” the minister said. “We see ‘digital’ as foundational to virtually every business.”