Eight innovators pick the next moonshot

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Plus: a guide to the stages at the Elevate festival where you can see these personalities live

Eight innovators pick the next moonshot
Photograph courtesy of Akon

In the 1960s, scientific innovation became a mainstream event as the greatest minds from around the globe raced to put a person on the moon. Manned lunar travel was the original “moonshot idea,” a concept so grand in ambition, so rich in consequence, that it captivated the collective minds of entire nations and brought the world together in front of their televisions and radios to witness a milestone in human history in 1969. But over 50 years after Neil Armstrong climbed down that ladder, the complex problems demanding our attention seem only to have multiplied. At Elevate, Canada’s tech festival, our mission is to unite the world’s innovators to solve society’s biggest challenges. The moon? Been there. The next set of obstacles awaits. Here, we ask some of Elevate 2019’s most prescient speakers to name the next moonshot idea we should all be focusing on. Plus: Scroll down for a full guide to the stages where they will appear.


“Transparency. The good thing about blockchain is that it leaves a footprint. You can’t do anything without it being open for everyone to see—it opens the road to transparency. I see full transparency and awareness throughout all economic activity, including civic engagement. I think banking systems can definitely benefit, but voting systems will probably be the most significant application for this technology. The mass integration and acceptance of blockchain will have a profound impact on the world.”

The artist and change-maker (shown above) has helped bring solar power to 18 countries in Africa, and recently launched “Akoin,” a cryptocurrency aimed at empowering entrepreneurs. He appears Sept. 25 at Elevate Money.

Jodi Kovitz
Eight innovators pick the next moonshot
Photograph by Becca Lemire

“We need to work on bringing more humanity into tech. Supporting innovations and tech companies that actively include and benefit all humans is the way forward. Let’s strive to go beyond gender diversity and bring humans of all identities, races, orientations, abilities and socio-economic backgrounds to the table.”

#Movethedial was founded by Kovitz as a way to connect, inspire and empower women working in tech in North America. Kovitz appears Sept. 24 on the Elevate Main Stage.

Claudette McGowan
Eight innovators pick the next moonshot

“A moonshot is about finding the right question. The one on my mind is, ‘How do we deliver Internet connectivity to the three billion people who currently have none?’ Empowering everyone to gain ‘access to access’ is what we should all be working toward. Education and access are game-changers. The Internet of People is more important than the Internet of Things.”

McGowan has spent nearly two decades working in fintech and currently serves as the Chief Information Officer, Enterprise Technology Employee Experience at BMO. At Elevate, she will moderate a conversation with former First Lady Michelle Obama on Sept. 24.

Guy Kawasaki
Eight innovators pick the next moonshot

“As I’ve grown older, I’ve become less enamoured with the idea of ‘moonshots’ as monumental, historical innovations from the likes of Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. I believe that society progresses because millions of people are doing ‘little’ things—most of whom never get to bask in the light of glory. If a teacher, coach, parent, or friend helps one child overcome hardship and achieve success, that’s a moonshot to me.”


Since helping draw the world’s attention to a little brand called Apple in the 1980s, Kawasaki has become one of the best-known marketing specialists in Silicon Valley. Now, he’s Chief Evangelist at Canva, a digital graphic-design platform. He appears at Elevate Scale Up on Sept. 25.

Martine Rothblatt
Eight innovators pick the next moonshot

“The next moonshot will be reversing global warming. There will be global consciousness of the need to bring atmospheric carbon dioxide back below 300 parts per million. Everyone will play a role, from creating new kinds of vegetation that lock up carbon to only making cars powered by green electricity. Before the 2020s are out, we can return climate safety back to earth.”

After co-founding the satellite radio system Sirius XM in the ’90s, Dr. Rothblatt shifted her focus to health care, becoming chairman and CEO of the biotech company United Therapeutics. She is currently working to develop transplantable organs that can be manufactured in unlimited quantities. She appears at Elevate Wellness on Sept. 23.

Director X
Eight innovators pick the next moonshot

“People are rising up for the environment—it’s happening now. The media and politicians that don’t address climate change, they will have to change their tune or the people will change them. On a societal level, we’re going to see mindfulness really find its way into schools and correctional systems and become as common as going to the gym. Meditation will be a part of everyone’s lives, and the world will be better for it.”

Toronto-born Director X has built  career as a storyteller, directing music videos for Drake, Rihanna and Kanye West. He made his feature directorial debut with the 2018 remix of Superfly. He appears Sept. 23 and 24 at Elevate Youth Zone Powered by DX.

Brooke Lynn Hytes
Eight innovators pick the next moonshot

“I would love to see the world create a system capable of not only stopping, but turning back the clock on the damage we’ve done to our planet. Unfortunately, at the rate we’re going, this may end up being a forced moonshot.”

The National Ballet School of Canada alumna and former competitor on RuPaul’s Drag Race has earned the title Queen of the North. Hytes appears Sept. 26 at Elevate New Media.

Lara Skripitsky
Eight innovators pick the next moonshot

“One of the most important things that we need humankind to rally around is the reversal of climate change. Modern technology, AI and innovation can play a huge role, but what we truly need are people’s brains, hearts and souls all mobilized for the cause in a real and tangible way.”

As VP and CTO at McDonald’s Canada, Skripitsky is creating an omni-channel experience that moves seamlessly from the restaurants we eat at to the technology we communicate with and back again. She appears at Elevate Digital Transformation on Sept. 23.

A Guide to Elevate Stages

Visit for the full list of speakers.


Elevate Digital Transformation
Co-created by Rangle 
Monday, Sept. 23 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
MaRS Discovery District
(101 College St.) Digital transformation is a fundamental rethinking of customer experiences, business models and oper-ations—and companies are using innovative technologies to do it. At Elevate, leaders in digital adoption will discuss the latest digital trends, the role of data and analytics, driving innovation at scale, and, ultimately, how you can drive and enhance the customer experience.

Elevate Wellness
Created by Acorn Labs
Monday, Sept. 23 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
TELUS (25 York St.) For better or worse, technological advancements affect our health and wellness. The thought leaders on this stage will explore how technology can holistically support our well-being, and take an in-depth look at the exciting future of health care propelled by leading-edge technologies and momentous scientific discoveries.

Elevate Youth Zone 
Created by DX 
Monday, Sept. 23 and Tuesday, Sept. 24 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Design Exchange
(234 Bay St.) In partnership with Elevate, DX offers world-class thought leadership to youth, inviting them to consider innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges and featuring emerging and established creatives, entrepreneurs and technologists guaranteed to inspire young minds.

Elevate Data Analytics
Created by LoyaltyOne
Monday, Sept. 23 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
(351 King St. E., Suite 200) Data is one of the most powerful and important global currencies. Having a strong analytics roadmap to process big data has never been more important. We will feature leaders across industries who are driving results through data for their businesses.

Elevate Main Stage
Tuesday, Sept. 24
10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Meridian Hall (1 Front St. E.) An exhibition of the most influential leaders and brands in tech and innovation. It’s time to set our sights on a new horizon. This year, Elevate challenges you to think without limits and explore the moonshots that will transform humanity forever.


Elevate Business
Created by Facebook
Tuesday, Sept. 24 St. Lawrence Centre
(27 Front St. E.) Today, businesses need to anticipate the constantly shifting demands of their customers to keep pace with new expectations. Elevate Business by Facebook is a curated day of insight and inspiration. We will focus on staying at the forefront of consumer trends—and what companies can do to optimize toward this goal.

Elevate Scale Up
Created by Google
Co-created by Salesforce
Wednesday, Sept. 25 9:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
Meridian Hall (1 Front St. E.) Every start-up has a vision for the future of their business, but scaling globally is always a challenge. Learn from industry leaders, entrepreneurs and experts how to change your strategic mindset and scale every aspect of your business.

Elevate AI
Created by TD
Wednesday, Sept. 25 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
MaRS Discovery District
(101 College St.) What does AI mean in 2019? Elevate AI will investigate the commercialization and practical applications of artificial intelligence, machine learning and deep learning right now. At Elevate AI, leaders will discuss the AI-powered products that are being built, shipped and sold today.

Elevate Money
Created by Interac
Wednesday, Sept. 25 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Design Exchange
(234 Bay St.) It’s no secret that the business of money is changing. Is cryptocurrency the future of currency, or an unregulated boondoggle? Is open banking the future of banking, or an open door to data privacy abuse? What will banking look like for Gen Z? Investigate these questions along with financial leaders, fintech founders and top experts.

Elevate Product
Wednesday, Sept. 25
Created by Connected 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Connected (370 King St. W.) Rapidly evolving tech, high customer expectations and the need to move quickly have created a challenging landscape for companies. Join product design leaders and creative thinkers for in-depth discussions, meaningful case studies and opportunities to make authentic connections.


Elevate Smart Cities
Created by the Toronto
Region Board of Trade & World Trade Centre Toronto
Wednesday, Sept. 25 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Toronto Region Board of Trade (77 Adelaide St. W., 4th Floor, Lennox Hall) When it comes to large-scale projects, Toronto is at the centre of a global conversation about smart-city ecosystems. The Toronto Region Board of Trade’s annual discussion and advocacy will be a recognition of this moment and the critical importance of getting it right.

Elevate New Media
Created by Corus Entertainment
Thursday, Sept. 26 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Design Exchange (234 Bay St.) Youth today are arguably experiencing one of the most pronounced periods of rapid change in human history. And while tech is driving this rate of change, it is also enabling young people to have more influence than ever before. During Elevate New Media, learn how to leverage youth culture to gain insight into the next major trends.

Elevate Retail
Created by Samsung
Thursday, Sept. 26 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Telus (25 York St.) Emerging technologies have reoriented consumer behaviour, transforming our expectations of the retail experience and putting more pressure than ever on businesses to innovate. Learn from the game-changing start-ups and trail-blazing tech firms that are remapping the customer experience from discovery to purchase.

Elevate Talent
Created by BMO
Thursday, Sept. 26 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
MaRS Discover Companies win by hiring, training and retaining top talent. To compete in the new world of work, leaders need to start building tomorrow’s best practices today. At Elevate Talent, you’ll connect with the people and companies transforming the employment landscape, building tomorrow’s leadership and igniting the workforces of the future.


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