Aging 2.0 #30in30in30 | Toronto Pitch Event

Monday, September 28, 2015 - 9:30pm to Tuesday, September 29, 2015 - 12:30am

#30in30in30 is an initiative supported by Aging 2.0 to encourage local communities around the world to host pitch events for new innovative products and services that stand to improve the lives of older adults. We are taking part in Aging 2.0's plan to host 30 Pitch Events in 30 cities around the world in 30 days.

5:30 – 6:00 Drinks & Networking
6:00 – 6:15 Welcome & Aging2.0 Introduction
6:15 – 6:30 Keynote Speech (Dr. Alex Mihailidis, AGE-WELL Scientific Director)
6:30 – 6:50 Round 1: Startup Pitches (3 Minutes Each)
6:50 – 7:20 Networking5:30 – 6:00 Drinks & Networking
7:20 – 7:40 Round 2: Startup Pitches (3 Minutes Each)
7:40 – 8:00 Senior Guest Designated Q&A
8:00 – 8:30 Audience Voting, Networking, Winner Announcement & Wrap Up

HOST: Mike King, Aging2.0 Toronto Ambassador

Venue & Address: 
OCAD University, 100 McCaul Street The Great Hall 2nd Floor

Pitch competition gives budding entrepreneurs a chance at seed money

Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 4:00am

A washing machine that works on pedal power, an app that lets you find an apartment and pay rent from your phone, a website that connects artisanal food makers with hungry customers. These are some of the products to come out of OCAD University’s Imagination Catalyst.

Meet the fresh new group of companies to join this hub for entrepreneurship and commercialization at the Take it to Market pitch competition on Tuesday, July 14 at the Toronto Umbra store. Come for the pitches and product demos; stay to vote for the strongest pitch and meet the celebrity judges and start-up founders.

“The diversity of companies we’re seeing come out of the OCAD U community is remarkable. Design thinking is helping start-up entrepreneurs in every sector,” said Imagination Catalyst’s Executive Director Katherine Roos.

In the July 14th pitch competition, some 20 entrepreneurs selected to participate in the Imagination Catalyst will be given 30 to 60 seconds to present their product to a panel of judges who will score them based on differentiation and innovation, quality of business model and customer validation. Up to three “pitchers” will win cash prizes.


  • Dr. Sara Diamond, President and Vice-Chancellor, OCAD University
  • Stephen Tapp, Chair, Imagination Catalyst Advisory Board
  • Paul Rowan, Co-founder and Vice-President, Inspiration, Umbra
  • John Albright, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Relay Ventures
  • Leila Boujnane, CEO, Ideé Inc.
  • Pat Lorenz, investor and board member, Network of Angel Organizations

The Imagination Catalyst is entering its third year with diverse new companies working in areas such as design, digital media, consumer products and business services, among others.

Imagination Catalyst Pitch Competition

Tuesday, July 14, 5:30 p.m.

Umbra Store

165 John St., Toronto

The Imagination Catalyst:

The Imagination Catalyst is OCAD University’s hub for entrepreneurship and commercialization. Our mission is to support and develop entrepreneurial talent among the OCAD University community as well as across the GTA. Our goal is to help launch new companies and products that contribute to the prosperity of our community.

OCAD University’s Strategic Innovation Lab in conjunction with Imagination Catalyst is working with Ontario’s Regional Centres of Excellence to design, develop and implement programming that will bring design thinking to entrepreneurs across the province.

Imagination Catalyst is currently funded by the Government of Ontario and the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), the province’s innovation system for scaling and growing campus-linked entrepreneurial capacity and campus-linked entrepreneurial activities. The Imagination Catalyst Fund, a seed investment fund designed to support Imagination Catalyst companies, is supported by Relay Ventures.


2015 Imagination Catalyst Pitch Competition

Logo with pink, yellow and blue elements
Tuesday, July 14, 2015 - 9:30pm to Wednesday, July 15, 2015 - 1:00am

The Imagination Catalyst is OCAD University’s hub for entrepreneurship and commercialization. Our mission is to support and develop entrepreneurial talent among OCAD University faculty, student and alumni as well as creative entrepreneurs across the GTA. Our goal is to help launch new companies and products that contribute to the prosperity of our community. 

Join us for our second annual Pitch Competition on Tuesday, July 14th when we celebrate the achievements of the 2014/15 Imagination Catalyst companies and introduce the founders who will participate in our 2015/16 incubator cohort at the Umbra store!

Come for the pitches and product demos. Stay to vote for the strongest pitch, network with investors, and meet our celebrity judges and startup founders. 

The events of the evening will be as follows:

-        5:30–6:00                              Networking + Showcase

-        6:00-6:15                               Welcome & VIP Introductions

-        6:15-6:45                               Celebrating IC’s 2014/15 grads 

-        6:45-7:15                               Introducing the IC’s 2015/16 cohort 

-        7:15-8:00                               Networking break + Showcase

-        8:00-8:30                               5 Finalist Pitches 

-        8:55-9:00                               Prizes Announced

For more information about the Imagination Catalyst visit here

To get in touch with us, email

If you have any questions about the event, email

We hope to see you there!




The Imagination Catalyst is OCAD University’s hub for entrepreneurship and commercialization. Our mission is to support and develop entrepreneurial talent among OCAD University faculty, student and alumni as well as creative entrepreneurs across the GTA. Our goal is to help launch new companies and products that contribute to the prosperity of our community. 

Venue & Address: 
Umbra Store 165 John Street  Toronto, ON M5T 1X3 Canada 

Imagination Catalyst entrepreneur expands her empathy-education business

Ilana Ben-Ari
Friday, April 17, 2015 - 4:00am

It’s been almost a year since Ilana Ben-Ari of Twenty One Toys took first place in OCAD University’s 2014 Imagination Catalyst Pitch Competition. World Creativity and Innovation Week (April 15 to 21) seems like a great time to check in and see what’s been happening since then.

The Empathy Toy

Twenty One Toys’ signature product is the Empathy Toy. Originating from Ben-Ari’s industrial design thesis project at Carleton University, the toy comprises wooden puzzle pieces with a variety of textures, shapes and colours. One or more players take a pre-made pattern and they must explain it to one or more other players – who have a set of identical, but loose, pieces – so that they can assemble the very same pattern.

But here’s the rub: all the puzzle-players wear blindfolds! The blindfolds come off when the assemblers think they have solved the puzzle. At that point, everyone – including silent observers – discusses what happened during the game. As Ben-Ari (Twenty One Toys’ founder and lead designer) notes, “that’s often the most instructive part of the exercise.”

Expanding reach

Since joining the Imagination Catalyst’s one-year Take It to Market incubator program, the Empathy Toy has gained serious traction. The first 1,000 units sold out in December 2014, and a second batch of 1,000 arrived from the factory in April 2015. This swift spread – the toy is in use in more than 800 schools worldwide – has been boosted by the many positive reports in the press, including in The Guardian, Fast Company and Time.

Imaginative mentors

“One of the most positive aspects of the Imagination Catalyst is the contact it gives me with leading entrepreneurs,” says Ben-Ari. “These inspiring people share their experience with me and give me great advice.” In particular, Ben-Ari points to the influence of Doreen Dotto and Lahav Gil. The president of uKloo Kids, Dotto has given Ben-Ari direction on wholesale pricing, certification and legal issues, working with distributors and pricing models. For his part, Gil, the CEO of the Kangaroo Group and co-founder of Bauhaus Tech Ventures, shared his knowledge of mass production, partnerships and distribution models.

“These generous entrepreneurs have been available to jump on the phone and give me advice on the challenges they faced when they were growing,” Ben-Ari says. “It’s been incredibly valuable as we face the hurdles associated with the expanding demand for our toys.”

The next horizon

When Ben-Ari began, she conceived of the Empathy Toy as something that would be used largely by elementary-school students. She and her team soon discovered, however, that older people enjoyed and learned from it. As a result, the firm is about to launch the Empathy Toy for corporate use as well as training and professional development workshops for employee groups.


Photograph of Ilana Ben-Ari by Laynna Meyler

OCAD U congratulates Amy Satterthwaite on her 3MT win

Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 4:00am

Amy Satterthwaite, MDes, is OCAD U’s 3MT competition winner for her three-minute presentation, “Foresight for Every Kid.” Runner-up went to JP King, MA, for his talk, “The Journal of Disposability and Ex-Possession.” Amy will represent OCAD U at the provincial competition in London, Ontario, on April 23, 2015.

The 3MT (three minute thesis) competition, developed by the University of Queensland in 2008, gives each graduate student presenter three minutes in which to distill her or his research project, with the help of only one static slide.

Perfecting your Pitch!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014 - 11:00pm to Wednesday, October 15, 2014 - 12:30am

mindSHIFT: Unleashing the POWER of Entrepreneurs

mindSHIFT is a Toronto-based business club where CEOs and business owners mingle and develop innovative & insightful business leadership. Every month, we bring in a speaker who will share his/her business visions with us. We thrive to provide you a net-working opportunity to connect and expand your mind.

We will show you methods for pitching your idea and getting investors for your business idea. The approach is much simpler than you think.

We have actual investors coming to the event with the desire to invest.  See them examine ideas.

A $5 donation is suggested and can be paid at the presentation or online.

This seminar is $10 for non-members – We suggest everybody to join our group.


7:00pm – 8:30pm: Seminar by the expert 
8:30pm – 9:00pm: Q&A and Wrap-up

RSVP to register, limited sitting

Venue & Address: 
CSI Spadina, 4th Floor, The Alterna Savings Meeting Room, 215 Spadina Avenue

Aspiring entrepreneurs compete in the Imagination Catalyst Pitch Competition


First place winner: 21 Toys

If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur with an art or design background, perhaps there’s no better green room for you than a design store. While waiting for their shot at pitching in the second annual OCAD U Imagination Catalyst Pitch Competition, held Thursday, May 15 at Umbra in Toronto, 19 entrepreneurs-in-the-making milled around on the first floor of the store, while audience applause for their competitors rang out from the packed space set up as a presentation hub above.

The Imagination Catalyst is OCAD U’s enterprise and new technology program, and at stake was the chance at a one-year residency in its Take It To Market incubator program for the top applicants, plus cash prizes — important seed funding for fresh, new ideas that fit the five scoring criteria: candidate commitment and overall presentation; differentiation and innovation; quality of business model; customer validation and motivation to invest. But, with only three minutes for a pitch plus just two minutes to answer questions from judges, candidates were under pressure to explain and prove their ideas and projects both confidently and quickly.

This year’s judges were what Petra Kassun-Mutch, Executive Director of the Imagination Catalyst described as “an impressive heavyweight bunch” and included Dr. Sara Diamond, OCAD U’s president, along with eight leading business founders, organization heads and CEOs: John Albright, Relay Ventures; Atul Asthana, TIE Institute; Bruce Croxon, Round13 Capital; Lahav Gil, Kangaroo Group; Dave Kranenburg, Centre for Social Innovation; Peter McFadzean, OCE; Abigail Slater, Barlow Lane Holdings Limited and Mike Stern, Make Works.

Candidates (who included OCAD U students, alumni and some from outside the university community) pitched a wide variety of projects, services and social enterprises — everything from DIY bespoke electronics to a service promoting local food consumption, to a healthcare app for patient-focused emotional and wellness support.

This year’s winners are:
First Place: $10,000 cash plus two tickets to C2-MTL (including Travel)
Ilana Ben-Ari and Gonzalo Riva, 21 Toys

Second Place: $5000 cash plus two tickets to MESH Conference and a free year on Shopify
Ryan Church (MDes, Strategic Foresight and Innovation, 2014), Biomenergy

Third Place: $2500 legal voucher from Fasken Martineau Dumoulin
Jeremy Bell, Wattage

Top Social Enterprise Award: $5000 (in partnership with the Centre for Social Innovation)
Mojan Jianfar (MFA, Interdisciplinary Masters in Art, Media and Design, 2014), The PATCH Project

People’s Choice Award: $1000 from Meredith Cartwright of Donbow Capital
Olibiyi Dipelou (MDes, Strategic Foresight and Innovation, 2014), Eekonomy 

Special Jury Award for Entrepreneurial Spirit: $1000
Alex Leitch (MDes, Digital Futures), Mechanism

Diamond in the Rough: Free iPad
Alex Haagaard (MFA, Interdisciplinary Masters in Art, Media and Design), HXTag
“I thought the calibre of the pitches was terrific this year,” said Kassun-Mutch. “The application process was more formal and rigourous and applicants had to think through their business models carefully and do pitch training. We also opened the competition up to the broader community, considering a wide range of candidates that fit with the incubator’s overall strengths, and we did really well on the representation of women to men, compared to a lot of pitch competitions I’ve seen.”

Find out more

The Imagination Catalyst


IT'S A START Call for Submissions

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 4:00am to Friday, January 17, 2014 - 5:00am

A pitch competition for digital entrepreneurs

Supported by the Digital Media Research and Innovation Institute and the undergraduate and graduate Digital Futures Program of OCAD University.

Digifest is proud to announce a unique opportunity for individuals to participate in the IT’S A START pitch competition.

What is IT’S A START?
IT’S A START is a pitch competition for digital entrepreneurs.

This competition is open to creative professionals, budding entrepreneurs, start-ups, students and recent graduates looking to pitch their ideas in a competitive format. Finalists will have an opportunity on stage during the festival to show the jury why their project deserves to win one of the prizes, which includes financing and incubation space in the George Brown College Digital Media & Gaming Incubator and OCAD University’s Imagination Catalyst Incubator. We are looking for the most innovative ideas from individuals, start-ups or digital companies who have special projects that they want to take to the next level. There is no fee to apply for this competition.

How does the contest work?
The contest will be developed in the following phases.

Phase 1 – The competition officially launches in October 2013. Contestants have two months to submit their application.

Phase 2 – Applications will be accepted until Friday January 17, 2014 at 5 p.m. All entries will be reviewed by the IT’S A START Committee and the first round of finalists will be announced on Monday January 27, 2014.

Phase 3 - First round finalists will have an opportunity to attend a Creative CampSaturday February 8 & Sunday February 9, 2014) where
entrepreneurs in residence will provide mentorship support and help the finalists evolve their projects.

Phase 4 – In order to be considered for the pitch contest finale, finalists must re-submit their updated project proposals by Friday March 14, 2014 at 5 p.m. All entries will be reviewed by the IT’S A START Committee and the second round of finalists will be announced on Monday March 24, 2014.

Phase 5 – All of the second round finalists will have an opportunity to present to their mentors from the Creative Camp on Saturday April 5 or Sunday April 6, 2014 and receive coaching and feedback for the pitch contest finale.

Phase 6 – The Pitch Contest Finale Part 1 will take place during Digifest on Friday May 9, 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. at the Corus Quay building located at Toronto’s Waterfront. Twenty semi-finalists will have 60 seconds on stage before a live audience to convince the jury why their project deserves to win. The jury will then select 10 finalists to present in the Pitch Contest Finale Part 2 the next day.

Phase 7 – The Pitch Contest Finale Part 2 will take place during Digifest on Saturday May 10, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. Ten contestants will have 3 minutes on stage to present to the jury and a public audience (please note that this is not a Digifest ticketed event).

Final Presentation Pitch Contest Rules for Part 1, Friday May 9th
• Only one individual from the team can deliver the 60 second pitch at Digifest on
Friday May 9, 2014.
• Each contestant will have two minutes to respond to judges’ Q & A, directly
following their pitch.
• Audio-visual equipment, PowerPoint presentation slides, prototypes etc. are NOT
permitted during the pitch competition. However, finalists have an opportunity to
showcase presentations/prototypes for their projects in the festival exhibit area.

Final Presentation Pitch Contest Rules for Part 2, Saturday May 10th
• Only one individual from the team can deliver the final 3-minute pitch at Digifest
on Saturday May 10, 2014.
• Each contestant will have two minutes to respond to judges’ Q & A, directly
following their pitch.
• PowerPoint presentations are mandatory for this part of the presentation
• May 10, 2014 at Corus Quay building Main Stage area where the winners will be
• NB: For technical purposes, all finalists are required to attend a dry run
of their pitch presentation before Digifest on Tuesday May 6, 2014 at The
Corus Quay building located at Toronto’s Waterfront.

What are the prizes?
We will be announcing the It’s A Start 2014 prizes soon.

It’s a Start prizes for 2012 included more than $8,000 in cash prizes, mentorship and
incubation space at George Brown College Digital Media & Gaming Incubator and OCAD
University’s Imagination Catalyst Incubator.

What Projects are eligible?
Project Criteria

The focus for Digifest 2014 is “future cities” and digital urbanism. For the IT’S A START competition, we are looking for creative, cutting-edge projects driven by conscientious and dedicated individuals that will help us solve some of today’s pressing urban challenges. Do you have an original idea that can improve the way we live, work and play? Have you developed an application or technology that will allow us to manage
complexities and build more resilient cities? Does your project connect people and
networks, ultimately enabling us to live better lives? If your project or idea fits the above-mentioned criteria then please keep reading.

Project Eligibility
• Project entries or ideas must be the original work of the applicant(s).
• Applicant(s) who have submitted to IT’S A START competition in the past and
have not qualified as a finalist can re-submit a proposal, however, you must be able to demonstrate how the project or idea has changed.

What projects are NOT eligible?
• Submissions that have won in previous IT’S A START competitions.
Who can enter?
• Start-up companies
• Entrepreneurs
• Students or recent graduates
• NB: George Brown College and OCAD University students/graduates/faculty are eligible to participate in the competition,
however, you must disclose this information in your application.

How do I enter?
There is no fee to apply for this competition. Fill out the APPLICATION FORM. You will be contacted within 3 to 5 business days upon receipt of your
application. If you do not receive this email then we have not received your application.
If you have been selected as a finalist you will be contacted with additional details
regarding the event.

Who is on the IT’S A START committee?
The committee is made up of experts from industry, academia and finance.

What are the selection criteria?
The committee will use the following criteria to determine the finalists for the
• Originality (Has this idea been presented this way before? How does your idea
compare to existing projects/ideas that address similar issues)
• Marketability (Is there a demand for your idea? Why would someone buy it?)
• Market Readiness (How much more development is needed?)
• User friendly (How easy is it to use?)
• Creativity & Design (How is the project executed? Is the overall design clear and
• Feasibility (How realistic is your plan to execute this project? Does your budget
take into consideration the logistics, production, technical requirements and
other expenditures?)
• Probability of Success (With the right investment and support, could this idea
become a successful business?)

The first IT’S A START competition was held in Monza, Italy organized by Regione Lombardia, Provincia Monza Brianza and Camera di Commercio di Monza in June 2012. The next competition “IT’S A START Canada” premiered at Digifest Saturday, October 20, 2012.

Contact Us
For more information and general inquiries about the competition, contact Miriam
Brookman at or at (416) 415-5000 ext. 3556.

For sponsorship inquiries about the competition, contact Lucia Piccinni at or at (416) 415-5000 ext. 3152.

Venue & Address: