The fifth annual CanTech Investment Conference was held on Wednesday (January 31) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and–if one thing’s for certain–interest in the tech sector is alive now more than ever in Canada. 

This year’s conference was slightly different than previous ones: for the first time in its history, the conference was sold out, and the show floor had grown by at least 50 percent due to an increase in demand.

If you weren’t able to attend, the Investing News Network (INN) was there busy covering some floor talks and panels, company presentations, interviewing and–of course–tweeting throughout the day. Stay tuned for our video interview coverage from the event in the coming week or so.

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The conference began with the TSX opening on the show’s main floor.

From there, panel discussions got underway, including one about cryptocurrency mining–which, unsurprisingly, attracted a large audience. The panel was moderated by Daniel Kim from Paradigm Capital while speakers included Aydin Kilic from Fortress Blockchain, James Goodwin from Great North Data, and Patrick Gray CEO of HashChain Technology  (TSXV:KASH).

INN then stopped by the company presentation of DMG Blockchain, a privately-held company based out of Vancouver. The company is a full-service blockchain and cryptocurrency company with a focus on becoming a bitcoin mining host leader.

In general, cryptocurrencies and blockchain were the biggest highlight reels of the day, but a cannabis discussion panel on Canada’s role as a global leader in the industry also attracted a large audience.

The panel included Russell Stanley from Echelon Wealth Partners as the moderator, while the discussion includedMark Zekulin, president of Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED), Chris Wagner, CEO of Emerald Health Therapeutics (TSXV:EMH) and Greg Engel, CEO of Organigram (TSXV:OGI).

Panel discussions and company presentations weren’t the only things keeping attendees and investors interested at the conference.  A virtual reality (VR) village was also set up where people could take a break and have some fun with this technology first-hand.

Back to panel discussions, Michael Hainsworth, business reporter with Business News Network hosted “Fireside Chat” with Anthony Di Iorio, CEO and Founder of Decentral and Jaxx, Co-founder of Ethereum., Decentral & Jaxx to discuss the future of blockchain technologies. Stay tuned for INN’s exclusive video interview with Di Iorio in the coming weeks.

As you can tell, blockchain, cryptocurrencies and cannabis were the biggest draws at the CanTech Investment Conference this year, and it’s not hard to see why: with recreational legalization of cannabis slated for this year in Canada and the country becoming a hot spot for blockchain technologies, there’s certainly plenty of investor interest in these two sectors.

On that note, another panel discussion moderated by Michael Hainsworth from BNN called Blockchain: Hype or Hope? included commentary from Di Iorio, Frank Holmes, who is chief investment officer at US Global Investors, and Kevin Rooke from Coinsquare. Over the next coming week or so INN will post its exclusive interview with Holmes, which includes his thoughts on the gold and bitcoin debate.

One key takeaway from the panel included the importance of differentiating between what is a real blockchain company and what’s not–and to particularly to be cautious of companies that suddenly change their name to include blockchain in its title.

While there’s certainly plenty of hype and speculation surrounding the industry, Di Iorio said he feels hopeful about the industry’s future.

The discussion panel was arguably the most attended of the day with standing-room only.

Other highlights of the day included Vanbex Futures: Investing in the Future of Blockchain with Kevin Hobbs, CEO of Vanbex Futures leading the discussion. Stay tuned in the coming days and weeks for our one-on-one interview with Hobbs about the future outlook for blockchain.  Cantech Letter, Canadian tech of the year with a judge’s panel where each judge presented three choices, one of which they had invested in.

While the CanTech Investment Conference is done for another year, it was certainly one for the books. After a busy-filled day, INN can’t wait to share additional insight from the show, including its video interviews with a number of experts and companies within the industries.

Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Technology for real-time news updates! 

Securities Disclosure: I, Jocelyn Aspa, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article. 

Editorial Disclosure: HashChain Technology is a client of the Investing News Network. This article is not paid for content.

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