Manulife Awards $10,000 At FinTech Hackathon

Winning idea looks to reward customers for good banking habits

Manulife hosted its first public hackathon on Dec. 1 and 2, a 48-hour event held at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, involving employees and members of the local tech community, working together to develop innovative financial technology concepts.

The event, called Unleash Toronto: From Paper to Prototype began with an initial brainstorming of 61 concepts by aspiring hackers, which was narrowed down to 11 best concepts. The first place team, which goes by the name 7 Deadly Hacks, received $10,000 and will be awarded a reception with Manulife senior leaders and strategic sessions with Manulife’s Lab of Forward Thinking (LOFT), a new innovation hub for Manulife. The team’s core idea is to reward Manulife Bank customers for their positive financial habits.

“We plan to take the energy and ideas from Unleash Toronto to feed ongoing development of our next generation of products,” said Unleash Toronto judge, Tim Ramza, Manulife’s Chief Innovation Officer. “By hosting events like the hackathon, we engage our global employee base to deliver solutions that deeply resonate with the evolving needs of our customers.”

Other judges included Warren Thomson, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of Manulife and Chairman of Manulife Asset Management; Steve Roder, Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer; and Rahim Hirji, Executive Vice President and Chief Risk Officer; Kai Sotorp, Executive Vice President, Global Head of Wealth and Asset Management; Tim Ramza, Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer; Stephani Kingsmill, Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Communications; Sebastian Blandizzi, Senior Vice President, Global Solutions Delivery and Chief Information Officer, Investment Division; Paul Lorentz, Senior Vice President, Investment Products; and John Palmer, Board Director.

Throughout the 48 hours, participants pitched, built and refined new business offerings, products and services to answer the following question: How might we help our customers reimagine and redefine what it means to invest with Manulife, utilizing new business models, channels and technology? Unleash Toronto brought together 140 participants, including public innovators, Manulife employees from Canada, Asia, Europe and the U.S. (where Manulife operates as John Hancock).

“We want to be an organization that is disruptive and forward-thinking,” Joseph Cooper, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Global Services, Manulife. “Through LOFT events like this, we’re building upon that culture and spirit internally.”

Other concepts prototyped at the hackathon included developing a virtual personal assistant, a crowdfunding website, an app for millennials to “swipe right” for investment opportunities, and a product that marries virtual reality with financial services.

Manulife’s Toronto location for its Lab of Forward Thinking (LOFT) is located in MaRS Discovery District’s FinTech Cluster – the largest of its kind in Canada. Centered on innovation, the tangible LOFT spaces provide a platform for employees across the company to collaborate and devise new technological solutions for Manulife’s various wealth and asset management, and insurance business lines.

Manulife opened a LOFT site in Boston in July 2015, and there are plans to expand its innovation network to Singapore. In 2014, Manulife launched another innovation hub in Waterloo Region’s Communitech Hub called RED Lab.

Manulife’s LOFT can be found at @InnovateForward on Instagram, Twitter and Periscope.

About Manulife

Manulife Financial Corporation is a leading international financial services group providing forward-thinking solutions to help people with their big financial decisions. We operate as John Hancock in the United States, and Manulife elsewhere. We provide financial advice, insurance and wealth and asset management solutions for individuals, groups and institutions. At the end of 2014, we had 28,000 employees, 58,000 agents, and thousands of distribution partners, serving 20 million customers. At the end of September 2015, we had $888 billion (US$663 billion) in assets under management and administration, and in the previous 12 months we made more than $23 billion in benefits, interest and other payments to our customers. Our principal operations are in Asia, Canada and the United States where we have served customers for more than 100 years. With our global headquarters in Toronto, Canada, we trade as ‘MFC’ on the Toronto, New York, and the Philippine stock exchanges and under ‘945’ in Hong Kong.

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BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund launch Crowdfunding Campaign For NEW Burn Fund Centre

The BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund and SEE The Change Productions have launched an Indiegogo campaign to support the Burn Fund Centre Legacy Project in its goal to fully fund the facility before its opening in March, 2016. Campaign main website is:

An extraordinary opportunity to build a new & permanent home comes but once in a lifetime for a charity. This is our time! The Burn Fund Centre will meet a critical shortfall in accommodations for burn & trauma patients and their family caregivers. The new Burn Fund Centre will solve this crisis.

Each year over 800 children and adults from around B.C. and the Yukon are admitted to the Burn, Trauma & High Acuity Unit at Vancouver General Hospital and BC Children’s Hospital suffering serious trauma. Patients generally stay at least a month in the hospital (but it can be up to several months) during both acute and reconstructive phases of care.

During this time, caregivers need affordable, close accommodation so that they can spend long hours at the hospital with their loved ones and be able to reach them quickly if necessary.

Once a patient leaves the hospital, they often require complex outpatient care. As an outpatient they may need dressing changes at the clinic as often as once every three days for the first six months. About half of burn and trauma patients are transferred to G.F. Strong for rehabilitation. They may require outpatient care for up to two years. Children require yearly follow-ups through their growing years.

When receiving out-patient care, the patient and their caregiver need close affordable accommodation that is conducive to healing for somebody highly vulnerable to infections.

There is currently a critical shortfall in appropriate patient accommodation for burn and trauma survivors that may potentially have resulted in compromised health outcomes.

The new Burn Fund Centre will solve this crisis!

Conveniently located at E. 23rd Avenue and Main Street between the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn, Trauma & High Acuity Unit at Vancouver General Hospital & BC Children’s Hospital, the Centre will include:

8 short-term-stay, FREE of charge, furnished accommodation suites for patients and families while undergoing treatment at VGH or Children’s Hospital, on discharge transition or returning for follow up appointments

Common spaces for all guests; a family friendly great room, children’s play area, large family kitchen, laundry facilities, computer stations, resource and games library, secure outdoor spaces, and a healing garden with plants chosen for their burn injury-friendly qualities

Information, Referrals & Subsidies for Child, Youth & Adult Burn Survivors

“Future Is Mine”—Adult Burn Survivor Program

Young Burn Survivor – Summer Burn Camp

Burn & Safety Awareness Educational Resources & Programs

BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Association & Burn Fund Administration Offices

Ground Floor includes 3,200 square feet of prime retail space—a social venture to support the building’s operations

Burn Fund Centre key highlights and donor generosity:

City of Vancouver provides land for Centre

$4M investment from BC Housing & BC Ministry of Health

$2.5M donation from the Jack & Darlene Poole Foundation

$1.3M pledged from Fire Fighter Locals

$825,000 in in-kind project management services plus a cash donation to sponsor the meeting and workshop room by Concert Properties

Ground Breaking – September 17, 2014

Construction Started – November, 2014

Burn Fund Office relocates to Burn Fund Centre – December, 2015

Grand Opening – March 18, 2016!

The generosity of individuals, companies, and foundations is crucial to the continued development and delivery of the more than thirty essential programs; including equipment purchases and support that is so desperately needed by burn survivors, their families, caregivers, and hospitals. The Burn Fund Centre will bring all of this work together under one roof.

“I was nine years old… I was a patient for almost two months… my family could not always be there with me, which is why the new Burn Centre that is being planned is so important for families like mine.”

~ Rhea Dyck, Burn Survivor

HOW can you help with the Burn Fund Centre?

Support for this project has been overwhelming and we are in the home stretch of our fundraising with only $440,000 of $13.1M remaining! We need to raise the last 4% to fully fund the Centre – we are 96% there!

This will be the first facility of its kind in the WORLD for Burn Survivors and their families, a truly historic opening!

We are grateful for every donation we receive; together we will reach this goal!

Let’s get this campaign out there and let’s cross the finish line together! (direct link to campaign) (official hashtag #WeAreAllTheBurnFund )

Anyone can help The Burn Fund cross the finish line by joining their campaign at and following them on Twitter (@burnfundcentre), Facebook and other social media outlets.

Thank You for helping us get the word out on this campaign and spreading the links above.

PS – Also enjoy our latest video from our Bright Nights opening event. The donations that night were $130K and our young reporter does a great job showcasing an amazing evening:

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G2A LAND Free Download From G2A.COM. Planned For Q1 2016

The G2A Land attraction is now showing at major gaming events around the world! A G2A.COM customer wearing the 3D goggles to experiencing G2A Land fully. Marcin Kryszpin, Head of Oculus Team at G2A.COM stands by to explain how it works. …

G2A.COM invested over 20 million Euros over the past two years into research and development to establish new cutting edge technologies. During the Virtual Reality (VR), project research on G2A Land, new design techniques became a first in the field of VR. The G2A.COM team of top VR, artists and inventors created G2A Land and developed a gaming ‘experience’ that is obtaining rave reviews from VR bloggers around the world.

Responses include:

“This is a beautiful 3D G2A show featuring a variety of attractions. I could lose myself playing it for hours checking details on each hand designed object, trying to beat highest scores in the shooting-range.” (DNS). ” It was a great feeling to ride roller coaster in G2A Land. I was shocked that I felt like I was on a real roller coaster and even for some moments, I was afraid of the speed. It is my favourite entertainment in G2A Land. I had a chance to experience shooter and cinema world, which I also enjoyed.”

Recently, Facebook invested $2 billion to develop Oculus. This Oculus Rift project raised more than $ 2.4 million on Kickstarter which made it the most funded gaming peripheral ever. The word Oculus is derived from the Latin word meaning, ‘eye’. When using the Oculus goggles, user eyes and minds are tricked into believing that what they see is real.

The team began in August 2014, developing new techniques that have become a global first in the field of virtual reality. G2A Land seeks to be as close as possible to the technologies that are available for gamers; a virtual amusement park connected within the G2A platform so that when the Oculus Rift devise is launched, customers who use the 3D devise will fully understand and experience what Oculus technology is all about.

G2A Land becomes a free public download at the same time as the launch of Facebook Oculus Rift most likely in Q1, 2016.

VR is described as an immersive multimedia or computer-simulated reality. It replicates an environment that simulates physical presence in places in the real world or imagined worlds and enables the user to interact in that heightened world. Virtual realities artificially create sensory experiences, which can include sight, hearing, touch, and smell.

“VR adds a new dimension to the gaming world that we know. We’ll be able to experience some titles in a deeper way and it definitely allows developers to use new tools to absorb gamers in the game world.” says Marcin Kryszpin, Head of Oculus Team at G2A.COM.

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Exvision Kickstarts ZKOO, The World’s Most Responsive Hand Gesture Tracking Camera

ZKOO bridges mobile devices to the living room TV

Exvision, the spin-out venture of Ishikawa-Watanabe Laboratory at University of Tokyo, today launched a Kickstarter campaign for ZKOO, the world’s most responsive and accurate hand gesture tracking camera. ZKOO offers users of Windows PCs (7, 8, and 10), mobile devices, and tablets a completely different UI experience of their favorite software and applications, with endless possibilities.


ZKOO is the first motion gesture tracking camera that supports a wide range of host devices including Windows PCs, Android-based tablets, smartphones, set-top boxes and Smart TVs. When combined with supported devices, ZKOO’s easy set-up turns living room TVs into smart, gesture- controlled TVs that deliver a deeper, interactive, engaging, and entertaining experience.

How ZKOO Works

ZKOO elevates traditional UI functions by replacing the touchscreen, mouse, or keyboard with natural hand gestures. It then utilizes cutting-edge gesture detection based on Hi-Speed Vision, Exvision’s proprietary technology. Hi-Speed Vision detects, tracks, and analyzes fast moving objects with extremely low latency, high accuracy, and robustness with a single CMOS imager and proprietary software algorithm. Bypassing noticeable latency, ZKOO allows PC, tablet, set top boxes and mobile device cursors to be moved with unparalleled smoothness and fidelity.

“The Kickstarter community is the perfect place to begin reaching out to our future users. Exvision believes the Kickstarter community to be visionaries who are genuine, curious and influential, and we want to give this community an opportunity to be the first to experience ZKOO and Hi-Speed Vision,” said Sakuya Morimoto, COO of Exvision.

The Tokyo-based company has set the funding goal for ZKOO at $15,000. For a contribution of $60 or more, backers get the ZKOO camera at a much lower price than the $120 retail price. The funds raised from the campaign will be used to further develop Hi-Speed Vision, the technology behind the ZKOO camera.

ZKOO’s Applications

Entertainment: Spend less time navigating and more time engaging with apps.

Games: Experience popular games like never before, using hand gesture controls to swipe, jump and move through a game.,

Education: Learning together takes on new meaning as parents and children explore software and apps through gesture interaction.

Business: Deliver presentations in a new way, using hand gestures to flip through slides.

Discover: Explore new ways to interact with mind-expanding software such as Google Earth, 3D Anatomy and more!

“ZKOO bridges the individual mobile/tablet experience with the more social living room TV, inviting everyone to be involved and spurring group interaction and activity,” added Morimoto.

ZKOO Features

Fast & Accurate Hand Tracking: Uses an algorithm with low latency and high fidelity for images running at 120 frames per second.

Single Sensor Camera: ZKOO’s camera consists of a single, off-the-shelf sensor, off-the-shelf processor, and proprietary software algorithm.

Elevated UI Functions: Traditional UI functions (mouse and keyboard) such as hover, click and drag are elevated to natural hand gestures.

Scalable Solution: ZKOO perfectly reproduces multi-touch UI, enabling users to gesture-play existing games and apps without modification.

Distance: Motion control is captured from a distance of up to 10 feet.

Easy Set Up: Seamless integration with Windows 7, 8 & 10 PCs and Android devices.

The Kickstarter campaign, launched [recently], can be found at

The campaign runs for 40 days, through January 17, 2016 with a goal of $15,000.

About Exvision

Exvision was established in Jan. 2009 as a spin-out venture of Ishikawa-Watanabe Lab at University of Tokyo, the world leader of high-speed computer vision technologies. Exvision brings state-of-the-art core technologies developed and accumulated at Ishikawa-Watanabe Lab into the commercial level products. The company’s first commercial product is ZKOO, the world’s most responsive hand gesture tracking camera.

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Kiva Launches Kiva NYC To Grow Local Small Business

Kiva NYC Connects Local Small Business Owners with 0% Interest Crowdfunded Loans to Help Them Start, Sustain and Grow Their Enterprises, the leading global microlending nonprofit, announced the launch of Kiva NYC, a new multi-year initiative to help level the playing field for lower-income small business owners in New York City. The program will bring 0% interest crowdfunded loans to hundreds of New York City small business owners who are socially impactful and financially excluded from mainstream lending options.

The launch was celebrated last night at a special small business marketplace event in New York City featuring Kiva President and Co-Founder Premal Shah, Kiva borrowers and former President Bill Clinton. “The world needs two things more than anything else. It needs positive identity, the belief that our common humanity matters more than our differences. And it needs a system of inclusive universal empowerment so that we can live and prosper together, raise our children together, and have an entirely different future than what dominates most of the headlines today,” said former President Bill Clinton, founder of the Clinton Foundation. “That’s why Kiva in the United States is so important.”

Kiva NYC is part of Kiva’s effort to expand risk-tolerant and patient capital from city to city across the U.S. that was announced as a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action in 2011. Since, then twelve other Kiva City programs have launched and Kiva loans are crowdfunding in 47 states, Guam and Puerto Rico.

Recently marking its 10 year anniversary, Kiva has provided crowdfunded loans to support more than 1.7 million entrepreneurs globally. After a successful roll-out of the community-based platform Kiva Zip, in select cities, Kiva is broadening its reach across the United States through a new social underwriting loan model, reinserting the idea of “character into credit” and giving business owners who may not qualify for traditional loans access to needed capital.

Kiva’s new “social underwriting” model differs from conventional small business lenders: a borrower’s credit-worthiness is based on one’s ability to recruit friends and family to fund a small portion of their loan, demonstrating trust among the people who know them best. Kiva does not require a minimum FICO score, collateral, or a minimum operations period for the business – which is unique compared to most non-profit U.S. microlenders. More than 90 percent of loan requests on Kiva are fully funded.

Kiva NYC represents a dramatic expansion of Kiva’s work in the New York City area. Kiva has already connected thousands of small dollar lenders to nearly 250 local entrepreneurs from every borough, including businesses owned by immigrants, neighborhood shops working to stay in their community, and businesses founded to support local food ecosystems and local emerging artists.

“New York’s small businesses are the heart of this city. They bring color and vibrancy to the neighborhoods, create quality jobs, and enrich the cultural fabric of this city,” said Premal Shah, President of “They have the passion and the plan, but often they lack just a small amount of capital to start or expand. Through this initiative, we can all be a part of their success.”

Visitors to can choose the entrepreneur they want to help crowdfund with a loan of $25 or more. Every dollar lent to a small business owner in NYC will be matched up to $1.1 million thanks to generous donors including the MetLife Foundation, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation and others. Individual loan requests average $5,000 and are offered at 0% interest and no fees. As the entrepreneur repays, lenders can relend to another person on or withdraw their money and put it back in their pocket.

Kiva NYC is made possible by generous supporters including the lead sponsor, MetLife Foundation. Supporters include Pershing Square Innovation Labs, The Moody’s Foundation, Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, and Surdna Foundation, with generous in-kind support from PayPal.

To become a lender or a borrower visit

About is the world’s first and largest crowdfunding platform for social good with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. With as little as a $25 loan, anyone can help a borrower start or grow a business, go to school, access clean energy and realize their potential. Since 2005, Kiva and their growing global community of 1.4 million lenders have crowdfunded over $750 million in microloans to nearly 1.7 million entrepreneurs in 80 countries, with a 98% repayment rate.

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Flatiron School Releases 2015 Jobs Report

98% of 2015 graduates get jobs at $74,447 average salary per audited report, released in accordance with Obama’s TechHire pledge

Nearly 40% of graduates were women, earning more than average student

[Recently], Flatiron School, an accelerated learning program for web and mobile development, announced the results of the second annual Flatiron School Jobs Report. The 2015 Report, examined by MFA – Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico, LLP, showed that Flatiron School has maintained its graduate job outcomes every year since the school has been founded, indicating 98 percent of graduates were employed after finishing the program at an average starting salary of $74,447.

With the Obama Administration’s launch of TechHire, a coalition of schools signed a letter to President Obama pledging to release audited outcomes data. Flatiron School is the only institution that has upheld that pledge to date for the second year in a row. The report examined graduation and employment rates among the school’s graduates from the past 12 months, providing a comparison to past years and across program types.

“We are in an environment with rapidly increasing higher education costs, opaque student outcomes, and a technical skills gap. To better meet the needs of students today, we’ve seen a proliferation of new technical education programs with support from the federal government in form of the new EQUIP program. This makes it more important than ever to provide transparency and accountability surrounding outcomes data,” said Adam Enbar, co-founder and CEO of Flatiron School.

Outcomes Across Diverse Student Groups

The report includes data from students across diverse demographics, including women and underrepresented students trained through a partnership with the City of New York, called the NYC Web Development Fellowship.

In 2015, women represented nearly 40% of all graduates of Flatiron School, as compared to 18% in a typical four-year Computer Science program. Graduation rates, time to job placement and average starting salaries for women are all consistent with the overall averages of male graduates. The average permanent salary for women was $74,957, an increase from 2014.

In 2015, low-income New Yorkers represented 24% of all graduates of Flatiron School. Graduation rates, time to job placement and starting salaries for these students were consistent with the overall averages for all 2015 graduates. Of these low-income students, more than half had not earned a college degree. After completing paid apprenticeships with companies like Microsoft, Kickstarter, Foursquare and MasterCard, these graduates are now earning an average of $76,875 in full-time roles.

Outcomes Through Open-Source Curriculum

Flatiron School graduates complete 800 hours of rigorous, market-aligned curriculum and applied learning that prepares them to earn highly competitive technical jobs.

In 2015, Flatiron School launched Learn-Verified, a fully-online program that provides access to all 800 hours of curriculum with professional software development tools, an open-sourced curriculum, and community support.

“With costs of higher education skyrocketing, Flatiron School has made significant investment in technology and infrastructure to achieve consistent outcomes for all our students while widening access across varied demographic groups,” Enbar said.

To find read the full Flatiron School 2015 Jobs Report, please visit:

About Flatiron School

Flatiron School trains creative, passionate people in web and mobile development. Established in 2012 by founders Adam Enbar and Avi Flombaum, 99% of Flatiron School’s adult graduates have launched careers at companies like Google, Intel, and Microsoft. All classes are facilitated by highly skilled instructors. Flatiron School is a recognized partner of NYC Department of Small Business Services, creating opportunities for all New Yorkers.

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