Last week, Soundpays was announced as the winner of NTT Data’s Open Innovation Contest in Toronto. This was one of 10 global competitions NTT will be hosting around the world, from London to Tel Aviv to Sao Paulo. The winners from each country will face off in the finals in Tokyo for a cash prize, potential collaborations with NTT, and of course, bragging rights.

The breadth of companies that pitched at last week’s event was reflective of Canada’s diverse tech scene. As the ventures in the ecosystem continue to grow and scale their reach, many are looking to international markets for testing, piloting, partnering, investment sourcing and sales.

All of the finalists who pitched at the competition had an interest in exploring synergies with NTT, which has a wide range of focus areas – including fintech, healthcare tech, digital marketing and more.

NTT Data Pitch Competition

The NTT Data challenge competitors

Soundpays uses ultrasonic sound wave technology that allows users to make purchases upon viewing an ad. By enabling single-touch purchases, this solution simplifies the checkout process and allows for potentially new modes of commerce. The Soundpays team will head to Tokyo later this spring to compete against other global pitch winners.

Steve Doswell, CEO at Soundpays, comments: “Universal appeal is the feature that made our product stand out at the NTT Data contest. Cool technology that has the potential to span global mass markets and add convenience in the future, like our one-touch approach to buying from ads, is a very attractive pitch for Japan.”

The runner-up at the Toronto event was Hyr – a solution that allows traditional businesses to leverage on-demand, shift labour. By allowing workers to move freely between shifts, receive benefits (that many freelancers otherwise might not get), and collect their pay quickly and efficiently, Hyr is providing a critical service. It benefits business owners that need labour, while simultaneously empowering the modern worker.

While the competition was fierce, the judges felt that Soundpays and Hyr were the leaders on the night. The judges were:

  • Kotaro Zamma (head of open innovation, NTT Data)
  • Kaz Okada (sr. expert of open innovation, NTT Data)
  • Russell Samuels (principal, Whitecap Venture Partners)
  • Patrick Diab (director of processing platforms and integrations, Moneris)

Some of the other finalists, who represent a wide range of technology companies that are looking strategically to global partners and international markets, included:

  • Applied Recognition – creates face detection and recognition technologies for consumers, enterprises and developers in a variety of industries;
  • Cyclica – offers unique insights on the effects of drugs, harnessing the power of big data and predictive analytics to improve the accuracy of clinical trials;
  • Tap Report ­­– helps companies manage their inspection process via an app;
  • Sizung – allows a variety of organizations to improve their communication and project management skills;
  • ap1 – provides a variety of solutions, such as the consolidation of content management and data visualization, and the extension of brand awareness;
  • VIRTOI – explores the intersection of real estate and virtual reality (VR).

The event’s keynote speaker, Darrell MacMullin, who is the CEO at GoldMoney, emphasized the importance of keeping a global perspective in any company’s strategy and approach.

While there are still barriers and friction points for companies looking to leverage global channels, this open innovation contest is an indicator of both the internal and external appetite for distributing Canadian technologies beyond North America.



Farah Momen

Farah Momen is an Associate on the MaRS Information & Communications Technology (ICT) Venture Services team, supporting the Consumer & Commerce and LegalX clusters. See more…