Photo:  (From left) Ajay Royan, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mallorie Brodie, and Minister Brad Duguid.

In the midst of Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) festivities, tech is drawing its own Californian crowd.

The C100, a network of successful Canadians living in Silicon Valley, held its inaugural Startup Challenge on Tuesday evening at MaRS, showcasing the Toronto-Waterloo startup ecosystem.

The challenge, part of the two-day Venture North conference, drew in a crowd of more than 150, as seven Toronto-Waterloo startups took the stage to compete for $15,000 in cash.

Taking home the big cheque was Bridgit, a construction communication platform, which got its start in Toronto before moving to Waterloo Region.

“We have been a part of accelerator programs in both cities and we have investors from both cities,” said Mallorie Brodie, co-founder of Bridgit. “And I really feel like we have been able to get exposure on how [the regions] can work together.”

Although Brodie won over the select group of investors who judged the event, she was in good company as Toronto’s Statflo, Sampler and Plooto; and Waterloo’s SparkGig, Suncayr and Medella Health; rounded out the competition. (Facebook Gallery)

“We have seen some pretty amazing companies come out of both areas and I think that this event encapsulated that it is coming together as one [ecosystem], which I thought was really exciting to see,” Brodie said.

OneEleven hosted the reception, where Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure, made an appearance.

Premier Wynne thanked the C100 network and addressed the audience.

“We have in Ontario a great confluence of factors; we have great talent, we have lots of experience and we have a really enthusiastic commitment to innovation, and that, I think, is going to take us a long way,” Wynne said.

But it was Wynne’s closing comment, “We’re wishing for more unicorns,” that reinforced the importance of events and activities that bring the two regions together.

“As we go out to these U.S.-based investors, we aren’t just pitching Waterloo or Toronto, but it’s very much this Canadian technology ecosystem that we have here,” said Brodie, who is set to pitch in front of Steve Blank, one of Silicon Valley’s most influential thinkers, at Friday’s Communitech Rev Centre Stage event.

For more photos from the Startup Challenge, see our Facebook gallery.