An online investment service, a retail management platform, the IT department of Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, and one of Canada’s leading banks are among the tech-oriented nominees being recognized for their revolutionary ways by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Canada’s 2016 Vision to Reality (V2R): Innovator of the Year awards, the organization announced today.

“It’s pretty exciting, because the vast majority of innovation and disruption is being powered by new technology… and the exciting thing about it in Canada is that we are starting to see that really take place with Canadian entrepreneurs, Philip Grosch, PwC Canada’s marketing and sales leader, told ITBusiness.ca. “Companies who are using technology to rethink well-established businesses is, to me, the definition of disruption.”

The 15 finalists include Toronto-based online investment service Wealthsimple, retail management platform iQmetrix, Toronto-based retail intelligence platform developer Rubikloud Technologies Inc., Vancouver-based employee payment firm Hyperwallet Systems Inc., Toronto-based medical records software developer QHR Technologies Inc., and TD Bank Financial Group.

“We’re honoured to be a finalist,” Wealthsimple’s community development manager, Mallory Greene, told ITBusiness.ca in an email. “Fintech companies are encroaching on the big banks, driving competition and innovation in a normally staid industry and I believe we’re at the forefront of this innovation.”

“(Our company) was born when we realized a retail management solution like we wanted simply didn’t exist and certainly wasn’t offered as a SaaS solution,” iQmetrix’s president and CEO, Christopher Krywulak, said when asked for his reaction. “Our innovation disrupted the space and we’ve kept innovating and disrupting retail ever since.”

Since 2004, PwC Canada’s Grosch said the organization has used the annual V2R awards program to recognize Canadian companies that harness the (often technology-driven) opportunities presented to them in a measurably valuable way, and though it began as a way to support the startup community, this year it’s expanded to recognize the top organizations in three categories: emerging, mid-market, and enterprise.

“Looking at the Canadian marketplace, we’re effectively a mid-market country,” Grosch said. “But there’s lots of innovation that takes place at midsize companies, many of which are very well established but have to continue to reinvent themselves.”

Then there are the large-scale companies which know the importance of innovation, he said – but also that it’s very difficult to implement.

By adding categories this year, Grosch said, PwC Canada is acknowledging the realities of the marketplace, where innovation and disruption are important to organizations of all sizes. Each category’s five finalists will be evaluated against their peers by an independent panel of 16 judges, which this year includes such luminaries as Joe Fresh and Club Monaco founder Joe Mimran, Tangerine Bank CIO Charaka Kithulegoda, OMX president Nicole Verkindt, and former Toronto mayor David Miller.

“It’s very difficult to compare a very large, 100-year-old business with 100,000 employees to a mid-size company in a more single-thread business with 50 employees,” Grosch said.

The full list of finalists is below. Winners will be announced on April 14.

“Disruptor” (startup) finalists:

  • Farmers Edge Inc.
  • Q4 Inc.
  • Rubikloud Technologies Inc.
  • Sensibill Inc.
  • Wealthsimple Financial Inc.

“Builder” (medium-sized business) finalists:

  • Hydrogenics Corporation
  • Hyperwallet Systems Inc.
  • iQmetrix
  • Mohawk College of Applied Arts and Technology
  • QHR Technologies Inc.

“Visionary” (enterprise) finalists:

  • Celestica Inc.
  • D+H Corporation
  • NAV Canada
  • Ontario Public Health Integrated Solutions Branch, Health Services I&IT Cluster, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care
  • TD Bank Financial Group
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