The 15th VenturePrize Awards celebration on May 4th at The Westin Edmonton did not disappoint. The event showcased innovative, Alberta-based technology companies as the Alberta Student, DynaLIFE, TELUS ICT and Fast Growth Awards were given out.
As it marked the final VenturePrize event, the evening celebrated the past, present, and future of entrepreneurship by recognizing each stage of the innovation process.
For his upcoming retirement, Dr. Lorne Babiuk was honoured for his years of service as Vice-President (Research) and Chair of the TEC Edmonton Board of Directors. Allan Scott, Co-Founder of TEC Edmonton and VenturePrize, was also recognised as an early champion of Alberta’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.
The Fast Growth Award and biggest prize of the night, valued at $80,000, was presented to virtual reality company vrCAVE. vrCAVE makes virtual reality (VR) an immersive social experience by creating collaborative VR games in which players can see, touch, and hear each other while interacting with the virtual world.
In its second year, the DynaLIFE Health prize awards innovation in the Alberta health sector. Tevosol emerged as the winner for the development of the Ex-Vivo Organ Support System (EVOSS™). By keeping a donated organ in conditions that mimic the human body, the device can keep donated organs viable longer, as well as revive organs previously deemed unsuitable. With this technology, the device has the potential to double or triple the number of available donor organs worldwide.
Preza Technologies took the TELUS ICT award, which celebrates innovation in Information and Communications Technology. Preza Technologies has created a temperature monitoring system specifically for the restaurant industry that uses the latest developments in wireless technology.
The Alberta Student Award went to Squire, an online e-learning tool that aims to recapture the lost benefits of a secondary school environment by making every post-secondary campus, regardless of size, feel like a small classroom. Students can create virtual study tables to work with classmates, find tutors and get on-demand help through video calls.
The People’s Choice Award was a competitive race with companies from all competition streams included in the vote. Over 3,400 votes poured in, and Ceres Solutions emerged the clear winner with 1,173 votes in total. Ceres Solutions uses spent grain from beer brewing as a substrate to grow gourmet mushrooms. The process results in a high-quality mushroom as well as a grain with increased crude protein content.
The Screener’s Award of Merit recognizes a VenturePrize competitor at an early stage of development, and shows excellent promise. The award was presented to Good Glucos, a company that delivers affordable, high-quality diabetic test strips to customers on a monthly subscription basis. For every 12 new subscribers, Good Glucos gives away one free 12-month subscription to someone living with diabetes in need.
Since entrepreneurship is just as much about the future as the present, the 15th VenturePrize competition concluded with an additional, surprise award for three “VentureKids,” young entrepreneurs from across the province.
Kaitlyn Coen from Northern Alberta was recognized for her C-Heater invention, a blanked/backpack/bag combo developed for the homeless that holds personal belongings while protecting the wearer from the elements. Sophia Fairweather of Central Alberta is the Founder of Startup by Sophia, and has created a line of useful products using STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). The Screamin Brothers of Southern Alberta was founded by JR Wikkerink, who began selling allergen-free frozen treats to help raise money for the people of Haiti following the earthquake disaster.
After learning about how young entrepreneurs are using their talents for social good, the audience left knowing the future is in good hands.
The evening ended with each VentureKid getting the chance to showcase their innovations to attendees. “When you work in Alberta, you work with some of the best in the business,” said MLA David Shepherd in his speech earlier in the evening.
VenturePrize demonstrated the truth in this statement. Thank you to all for a great 15-year run!