Sponsorship of Creative Destruction Lab will help next-generation tech startups scale their business
Posted on Feb 16, 2018 by Brad McCabe

Great-West Life announced today that it is contributing $300,000 over three years to the Creative Destruction Lab - Toronto to help technology entrepreneurs take their ideas from the drawing board to the marketplace.

The Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), located at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, works with technology startups promising to deliver massive improvements to economic productivity and human well-being. The nine-month program provides entrepreneurs with access to experienced industry mentors, business development support from top Rotman business students, and funding opportunities with leading venture capital firms.

"With Creative Destruction Lab, we're looking to foster the next great innovations in health and financial technology," said Ben Harrison, Vice-President, Innovation, Great-West Life. "Our industry is changing, and we want to be at the table with disruptive entrepreneurs helping scale their businesses and learning from their ingenuity. We're looking for creative ideas and partnership opportunities with the potential to transform how we do business and improve the financial, physical and mental well-being of Canadians."

As part of CDL's program, mentors work with up-and-coming entrepreneurs to identify what they need to do to commercialize their business. Companies that consistently achieve their objectives often attract investment from coaches, which in turn triggers investment from institutional and private investors. Last year, CDL-Toronto's graduating ventures raised more than $46 million over the course of the program.

"At the Creative Destruction Lab, we are privileged to work with many innovative leaders across different industries such as financial technology," explained Sonia Sennik, Executive Director of CDL-Global. "Great-West Life is enthusiastic to collaborate with our ventures in pursuit of innovative breakthroughs for their company and customers. We are excited to have their support."

More than 100 companies are enrolled in CDL-Toronto this year. On February 7 and 8, participating ventures attended intensive, full-day sessions where they had the opportunity to interact directly with mentors, investors, corporate sponsors and successful entrepreneurs, who offered practical advice on building and scaling technology companies.

As part of these sessions, Great-West Life met with several companies enrolled in the CDL program, including Awake Labs, a digital health venture developing tools to empower care for brain and mental health disorders. "We are excited to be a part of an ecosystem where corporate partners invest in supporting innovative companies that improve health and well-being," says Andrea Palmer, CEO, Awake Labs. "We look forward to the opportunity to collaborate with industry leaders, like Great-West Life, to become a global leader in mental health care solutions."

In addition to sponsoring programs like CDL-Toronto, Great-West Life's parent company, Great-West Lifeco, has interests in FinTech through a joint venture investment in Portag3 Ventures, which supports promising financial tech companies in Canada and abroad.

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