Toronto, June 24, 2015 — Impact8’s third cohort graduated from the eight-week accelerator after demoing their social innovations to an audience of accredited investors and industry stakeholders yesterday at the MaRS Centre. Following the demos, Vizwik (Agora Mobile) received the $10,000 grand prize as determined by its Impact8 peers.

The Spring 2015 cohort focused on the theme of Work & Learning, guided by both the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing and the MaRS Education Technology (edtech) cluster. The edtech team provided sector-based expertise to the program’s ventures targeting access and inclusion, workforce planning, youth employment, system transformation, and curriculum and content enhancement.

“This year’s Impact8 startups continue to expand Canada’s pipeline of investment-ready impact ventures and I am delighted to see these innovations in work & learning seeded to investors,” said Tim Jackson, EVP Corporate and Community Development, MaRS and Lead Executive, MaRS Centre for Impact Investing. “The Centre for Impact Investing was thrilled to partner with MaRS’ edtech team who provided this cohort with invaluable sector-based expertise, mentorship, resources and connections.”

“The Impact8 program was an amazing experience packed full of learning and practical knowledge provided by industry experts who have been there,” said Simon Gauvin, Co-Founder and CEO, Agora Mobile. “It was an honour to be selected from among Canada’s best startups and connected to seven great leaders who are making a real impact on peoples’ lives.”

This cohort includes the following ventures:

  • Vizwik (by Agora Mobile), a social learning platform that teaches users to create, test, share and sell cross-platform (Android, Apple, BlackBerry, Windows) apps using a visual coding and development tool.
  • Cube for Teachers, an interactive database and professional learning network created for K-12 educators to simplify how teaching resources are shared, stored and accessed for greater efficiency and better learning outcomes. Cube is structured to be fully aligned with Ontario curriculum.
  • Forward Vision Games, cloud-based simulation games that improve financial literacy and decision-making to enable financial and entrepreneurial capacity among Canadian high school and post-secondary students, with a particular focus on First Nations students, content and communities.
  • Higher Ed Pointsallows loyalty points from programs like Aeroplan to be redeemed to help students pay for their higher education at post-secondary education institutions and/or their student loan payments in Canada. They recently announced their partnership with the Ontario Student Loan Assistance Program.
  • Kids Great Mindsdelivers learning programs to inspire and educate kids about digital technology. Courses are designed to introduce new concepts and develop core competencies in many of today’s cutting edge technologies, including computer animation, programming, 3D printing, blog design and video game development.
  • QUIO enables teachers and instructors to create customized assessment tools and portfolios, and manage data into visual learning maps to articulate holistic evaluations of 21st century student learning and performance.
  • Riipen, an online platform that connects companies with students and graduates through employer-created projects and paid work opportunities. The platform gives students the relevant means to demonstrate their skills and value, while enabling employers to find talent from a validated pool of candidates, rather than a simple resume.
  • Textbooks for Change provides affordable and accessible textbooks for domestic and international students. Post-secondary textbooks are collected, and priced affordably and sold online. The proceeds are used to provide microloans and send donated textbooks to university libraries in low-resource regions across Africa.

Impact8’s next program will take place this fall in Toronto at MaRS and for the first time, in Montreal at Esplanade – Québec’s first collaborative space dedicated to social entrepreneurs and social innovators.

For more information and to apply for

– Impact8 Ontario, please visit: http://www.oce-ontario.org/programs/entrepreneurship-programs/osiv-pilot-program/how-it-works (Deadline: July 13)

– Impact8 Quebec, please visit: http://impactinvesting.marsdd.com/strategic-initiatives/impact-8 (Deadline: June 30).

About the MaRS Centre for Impact Investing
The MaRS Centre for Impact Investing is a national hub designed to increase the awareness and effectiveness of social finance to catalyze new capital, talent and initiatives dedicated to tackling social and environmental problems in Canada. The Centre builds on the foundational work of MaRS and Social Innovation Generation (SiG), including the landmark report by the Canadian Task Force on Social Finance.

About MaRS Discovery District
MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) in Toronto is the one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs supporting a new generation of makers and innovators who aim to make the world a better place by creating solutions that address key societal challenges. It is a community that encourages entrepreneurial thinking through education programs and events, and helps startups launch, grow and scale. MaRS supports over 1,000 ventures that, in turn, employ over 5,000 people. In the last three years, MaRS ventures have raised $1.3 billion in capital and earned $640 million in revenue.

For more information, contact:
Lara Torvi, Manager, Media & Community
MaRS Discovery District
416.673.8100
ltorvi@marsdd.com