By some bodily fluid twist of fate, all winners of the three TEC VenturePrize business plan competition prizes had to do something to do with liquid intake into the human body, and liquid discharge.
What goes in: The winner of the TEC VenturePrize Student award was Alberta Craft Malting – a project by students associated with the art of making beer at the Olds College teaching brewery.
Led by Tyler Rose, the students realized that Alberta, despite its sea of malting barley, had only two large-scale facilities that made a standard style of malting barley – a major ingredient in the making of beer. Their plan is to produce all kinds of “specialty malts” for the legions of micro-breweries looking for distinct flavour and aroma profiles.
What goes out: The winner of the TELUS Information and Communications Technology (ICT) prize was OMx. Based on University of Alberta research into the health clues provided by the 4,000 chemicals present in human urine, OMx is offering (for a most reasonable price) an analysis of an individual’s general health through mailed-in urine samples. “The opportunity to partner with TELUS on our project is the most exciting aspect of this prize,” said OMx’s Mike Wilson.
What goes out, as an irritant: The winner of the lead TEC VenturePrize Fast Growth prize was Sensassure, a company whose lead product is a sensing device able to alert attendants as to when elderly incontinent individuals need to have their adult diaper changed. Which wouldn’t seem like a big deal, except that staff at extended-care homes for the elderly spend most of their time on “check ‘n’ change” schedules – whether adult-dioaper change is needed or not.
This 13th annual TEC VenturePrize Awards – an annual occasion to encourage and celebrate early-stage, innovative Alberta companies – was notable for the very high quality and commercial potential/realization of all nine finalists in the three business plan competition categories.
Any one of the three finalists in all three categories could have been winners.
In the Fast Growth Competition was Alieo Games, a very promising software tool that is making elementary school students passionate about story telling while also encouraging proper grammar and story-telling. The other third finalist was Pogo CarShare, a most intelligently designed car-share program already with 30 vehicles and 700 subscribers in downtown Edmonton.
Competing with Alberta Craft Malting in the Student competition was Scout – an innovative one-size-fits-all marketing program for small and medium business, and NoLemon Automotive – an online used car-selling service in which all vehicles offered must be inspected and passed beforehand by independent mechanics.
Competing against OMx in the TELUS ICT Competition was MASV, an online service providing oilpatch clients with a one-stop service to purchase parts and services from multiple suppliers, saving much research and comparison shopping time. Advancing Edge Technologies is offered a standardized pathway between family doctor, specialist, and pathologist (the doctor doing the diagnosis and recommended treatment from tissue biopsies) to save money and time in collaborate patient care.
VenturePrize 2015, attended by ~350 people at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on April 29, mimicked its contestants by offering much innovation and change in the evening itself. Gone was the assigned sit-down multi-tabled dinner and program, replaced by a stand-up, networking light dinner from multiple food stations, then theatre-like seating on the other side of the hall for the main program MC’d by CHED talk show host Ryan Jespersen.
Also celebrated as examples of innovation encouragement was the announcement of the Ross and Verna Tate Science Entrepreneurship Award to celebrate student entrepreneurship at the University of Alberta, a very close partner of TEC Edmonton. Bought on stage to encourage high school applied science creativity – leading to future companies – was the winner of the Peace Country Regional Science Fair Award, Gr. 8 student Michael Fyfe with a plastic interlocking building block made from waste plastics.
Winning the judges’ Screeners Award of Merit, sponsored by Field Law, was Physio4D, and the most popular company, as per the Edmonton Journal’s VenturePrize People’s Choice poll, was Alieo Games.
It was a splendid evening all around, and Edmonton’s most followed Twitter hashtag during the proceedings.
For all those investing their time, money and energy in ensuring the future of Alberta (see Edmonton Journal Business Columnist Gary Lamphier’s column on the significance of VenturePrize) through innovative economic development, a most gratifying evening.
A special thanks to VenturePrize and TEC Edmonton sponsors, whose generosity made both the evening and the business competition possible:
Edmonton Economic Development Corporation
The University of Alberta
Alberta Innovates Technology Futures
The Edmonton Journal
Alberta Women Entrepreneurs
TSX Venture Exchange
Nine new Alberta companies are in the 2015 TEC VenturePrize Award finals, happening Wed. April 29, 2015 in Edmonton.
All will walk out of the Edmonton Shaw Conference Centre with something – a cash prize, mentoring, sponsorship, business services publicity, new investors.
But what does Alberta itself walk out with? Where do we start …
Nine new companies, growing and prospering.
Nine new technology-based companies, creating new wealth. Companies on the leading-edge of their sector, companies hiring highly educated individuals, companies using the knowledge of our post-secondary institutions and their graduates, companies paying corporate taxes, companies fulfilling Alberta’s desire to be less dependent on the energy sector alone.
The three winners will be happy campers indeed. The Student prize winner receives $20,000 in cash and services. The TELUS ICT contest winner takes home $30,000 plus an ongoing relationship with TELUS. The Fast Growth prize winner will have $80,000 cash and services to further grow.
The thing is every single entrant – at least 90 in total, including 50 post-secondary students itching to start their own businesses – is a winner, thanks to TEC VenturePrize’s business enrichment program.
Every contestant receives an intensive reality-based course in business planning and marketing.
Every contestant has access to a business-savvy volunteer mentor, preparing them both for VenturePrize, and business in general.
Every contestant has their business plan/dream critiqued by judges who are as much interested in individual progress as in picking a winner.
Joining the list of technology-based businesses on the cusp of something big are our 2015 finalists in each division.
Ladies and gentlemen, our 2015 VenturePrize finalists:
In the Fast Growth Competition:
Alieo Games (alieogames.com) is an educational technology company that recently launched COW, a writing app for students and teachers from kindergarten to Gr. 12. COW provides a safe and fun space for students to practice writing (building writing fluency and vocabulary) and to share their work with classmates. For teachers, COW uses text analysis to provide useful feedback that they can use to customize their lesson plans to meet the specific needs of their students.
Pogo CarShare (pogocarshare.com) is Edmonton’s first car sharing service. Founded and managed locally, Pogo provides members 24/7 access to a pool of vehicles located within a central zone in our city on a simple pay-as-you-go basis. Cars can be located, reserved and opened using the Pogo app.
Sensassure (sensassure.com) is a wearable technology sensor solution for the incontinent – alerting nursing staff in extended care homes to the need to change incontinence underwear. Sensassure helps restore dignity to those who suffer from incontinence by automating existing manual care processes, leading to timely changes that prevent secondary conditions from developing.
In the TELUS ICT competition:
OMx(omx.io) is accelerating the development of advanced molecular diagnostics with technologies to analyze and combine data about the chemicals, proteins and DNA in the body. Their first product helps improve and optimize diet and lifestyle with a urine test that measures indicators for diet and wellness.
MasV (masv.ca) is a software company within the oil and gas sector, MASV has a new way to benefit both rental companies and renters of oil and gas equipment. By connecting renters to the rental companies that have the relevant items, they reduce downtime stress while increasing profit for both parties.
Advancing Edge Technologies (advancingedgeinc.com) addresses technology deficiencies with diagnosis reporting in anatomical pathology (providing patients with the final diagnosis from tissue biopsies and body fluids). Their state-of-the-art touchscreen-based examination software delivers a more streamlined, accurate, and consistent pathology diagnostic report while also saving money and time.
In the Student VenturePrize Competition:
Alberta Craft Malting – Olds College: Alberta Craft Malting uses Alberta barley to develop specialty made-in-Alberta malts – a crucial ingredient in the making of beer. The use of local grains means brewers can now access specialty malts made from local barley considered among the world’s best, rather than depending on out-of-province suppliers.
Scout (scoutcard.ca) – University of Alberta: Scout is a marketing platform for small and medium businesses that incorporates a smartphone based loyalty program. The Scout app replaces traditional punch cards and allows merchants to create a loyalty program tailored specifically to them, allowing them to truly interact with their customers.
NoLemon Automotive Inc. (nolemon.ca) – University of Alberta: By offering an online classified platform providing third-party vehicle inspections, NoLemon helps buyers and sellers more effectively navigate the vehicle transaction process. NoLemon provides the comfort and confidence individuals seek in making their vehicle purchasing decisions.
Come to the VenturePrize Awards and Celebration, from 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 29 in Hall D at the Shaw Conference Centre in downtown Edmonton.
Tickets (www.ventureprize.com) are $85 each for a fun, informal evening that includes a delicious informal dinner. Hurray! Ticket sales close at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29, 2015.
TEC Edmonton has announced the top three Alberta student entrepreneurs competing for a combined prize package worth $35,000 to accelerate their businesses
Edmonton, AB – April 27, 2015 – Business incubator TEC Edmonton has announced the three finalists in the 2015 TEC VenturePrize Student business plan competition: Alberta Craft Malting (Olds College), NoLemon Automotive Inc. (University of Alberta) and Scout (University of Alberta).
The top 3 finalists of post-secondary student competitions across the province automatically qualify for competing in the provincial TEC VenturePrize Student competition. After a detailed review process, the following students have been selected for the finals:
Alberta Craft Malting integrates local Alberta-grown barley into the brewing process. With state-of-the-art technology, they plan to develop specialty malts that are brewed locally within Alberta, giving local craft malters a competitive advantage over out-of-province suppliers. The use of local grains means brewers can now access specialty malts made from local barley that is rated the best in the world.
Scout is a marketing platform for small and medium businesses that incorporates a smartphone based loyalty program. The Scout app replaces traditional punch cards and allows merchants to create a loyalty program tailored specifically to them, allowing them to truly interact with their customers.
NoLemon enables good cars to sell faster. By offering an online classified platform providing third party vehicle inspections, NoLemon helps buyers and sellers effectively navigate the vehicle transaction process. By removing the uncertainty associated with buying and selling vehicles online, NoLemon provides the comfort and confidence individuals seek in making their purchasing decisions.
The winner and runners-up will be announced on April 29 at the 2015 VenturePrize Awards Event held in Edmonton. The Student grand prize winner will receive $20,000 in cash and in-kind services while both runners-up will receive $7,500 each in cash and in-kind services. Winners of the other two VenturePrize competition streams – Fast Growth and the TELUS Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) stream – will also be announced.
Now in its 13th year, the VenturePrize program delivers top-quality business training, mentorship and resources, culminating in the annual business plan competition. Open to early-stage technology entrepreneurs, the program attracts innovators from all over Alberta.
For more information about VenturePrize or to purchase tickets for the VenturePrize Awards Event, visit: www.ventureprize.com.
TEC Edmonton helps tech entrepreneurs accelerate their growth. In addition to being the commercialization agent for University of Alberta technologies, TEC Edmonton operates Greater Edmonton’s largest accelerator for early stage technology companies, including both university spinoffs and companies from the broader community.
TEC provides services in three broad areas: client business development, technology commercialization, and entrepreneur development.
TEC’s ~125 active clients are an outstanding group of companies. Since 2011, TEC clients have generated $310M in revenue, raised $160M in financing and funding, invested $85M in R&D, grown both revenue and employment by 25% per year, and now employ over 1800 people in the region. In addition, TEC has assisted in the creation of 14 spinoffs from the University in the last two years.
In 2013, TEC Edmonton was identified by the Scandinavian University Business Incubator (UBI) Index as the #1 university business incubator in Canada, and in 2014 ranked #10 in the world by the UBI Index. TEC Edmonton was also named “Incubator of the Year” by the 2014 Startup Canada Awards.
For more information, visit www.tecedmonton.com.
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TELUS has chosen three of Alberta’s most promising technology startup companies to compete in the TEC VenturePrize business plan competition
Edmonton, AB – April 23, 2015 – Telecommunications leader TELUS has chosen three top candidates from Alberta to compete for a grand prize of $30,000 cash in the annual TEC VenturePrize business plan competition.
Now in its 13th year, the VenturePrize program provides early stage Alberta-based technology entrepreneurs with resources, training and funding to accelerate their business. The program culminates in a business plan competition where participants can enter one of three competition streams: Fast Growth, Student or the TELUS Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) stream.
TELUS has selected the following finalists to compete for the grand prize:
OMx is accelerating the development of advanced molecular diagnostics with technologies to analyze and combine data about the chemicals, proteins and DNA in the body. Their first product helps improve and optimize diet and lifestyle with a urine test that measures indicators for diet and wellness.
A software company within the oil and gas sector, MASV has a new way to benefit both rental companies and renters of oil and gas equipment. By connecting renters to the rental companies that have the relevant items, they reduce downtime stress while increasing profit for both parties.
Advancing Edge’s new product addresses technology deficiencies with diagnosis reporting in anatomical pathology (providing patients with the final diagnosis from tissue biopsies and body fluids). Their state-of-the-art touchscreen-based examination software delivers a more streamlined, accurate, and consistent pathology diagnostic report while also saving money and time.
The winner will be announced on April 29, 2015, at the VenturePrize Awards Celebration held at the Edmonton Shaw Conference Centre. The event brings together the business and innovation community to celebrate the future of Alberta entrepreneurship.
For more information about VenturePrize or to purchase tickets for the Awards event, visit: www.ventureprize.com.
Global Edmonton has been celebrating entrepreneurism in our city with its Game Changers series, a monthly show hosted and produced by Early Morning News co-host Shaye Ganam.
The latest Game Changers featured TEC VenturePrize 2013 finalist LoginRadius. Global showed how two former students with a great business idea – replacing hard-to-remember website passwords with simple log-ins using social media accounts – have grown the concept (with much business assistance from TEC Edmonton) into a major company with hundreds of thousands of clients, dozens of employees at corporate and operational headquarters in Edmonton and in India, and the determination to grow LoginRadius into a billion-dollar company.
The result was an overwhelming vindication of the entrepreneurial training focus of VenturePrize, as all the published comments urged inexperienced entrepreneurs, before they did anything else, to put together a business plan.
The Edmonton Journal has also been having fun by presenting and sponsoring the TEC VenturePrize/Edmonton Journal People’s Choice Award. The general public are encouraged to visit the People’s Choice voting website and register their vote for one of the current finalists – educational learning tool Alieo Games, Pogo Car-Share and wearable tech startup Sensassure. Last year, over 1,100 voters selected the VenturePrize Fast Growth competition winner Localize Your Food. Pretty good way to get a buzz going for your company in the cybersphere!
Finally, the University of Alberta daily news bulletin, as part of the University’s Because We Dared theme, published an inspirational story entitled Start Up a Revolution, about how TEC Edmonton is helping transform U of A research and innovation into tangible economic activity in Edmonton by helping the “inventive sparks … catch fire in the business community … The transformation has been stunning.”
If you or your organization would like to learn more about TEC Edmonton and its many services as a not-for-profit innovative business accelerator, please visit our TEC Edmonton website .
News outlets – on and offline – are encouraged to contact TEC Edmonton Communications Coordinator Erik Einsiedel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 780-248-5886.
To order tickets for the 2015 VenturePrize Awards Celebration, April 19 at 5 p.m. in Edmonton’s Shaw Conference Centre ($85 including dinner, 8 for $595) go to www.ventureprize.com
TEC Edmonton’s Technology Management team offers expert advice on intellectual property matters which often lead to new patents, licensing agreements and company spin-offs.
On March 3, 2015, Dr. Jason Olfert of the University of Alberta’s Department of Mechanical Engineering received a United States patent titled “Particle Classifier”(patent no. 8,966,958).
The invention classifies particles by their aerodynamic size, which produces a monodisperse aersol. Some of the many applications include pharmaceutical research, inhalation toxicology, bio-aerosol detection, automotive emissions measurements, filter testing, and energy and combustion research.
The technology has been licensed to UK-based Cambustion.
l to r: Dr Randall Yatscoff, TEC Edmonton; Steve Xanthoudakis, Merck; Eric Olson, Genzyme; Jennifer Hamilton, Johnson & Johnson
When TEC Edmonton set up its TEC Health Accelerator program seven months ago, one of its goals (besides accelerating 50 new health-related companies in Alberta in five years) was to “fill in the gaps” in the Alberta’s health-related innovation system.
On March 25 and 26, 2015, a good start was made on bridging a major gap.
Representatives from three major international pharmaceutical and health-product companies came to spend two days in Edmonton, to have one-on-one meetings with University of Alberta researchers and early-stage health companies pre-screened for suitability by TEC Edmonton.
One of the identified gaps has simply been getting health industry executives out to Alberta to learn what has been cooking in this hotbed of biotechnology, developed mostly through the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine.
So it was that Johnson & Johnson advisor Jennifer Hamilton, Genzyme Portfolio Strategy Manager Eric Olson and Steve Xanthoudakis, Director of Business Development for Merck Research Laboratories, were in Edmonton from Vancouver, Boston and Montreal respectively, checking out potential partners. The company representatives will return to Alberta to visit with Calgary-based health companies and researchers on Tuesday, June 23, 2015.
On Thursday morning, the trio participated in a Faculty of Medicine/TEC Health Accelerator hosted panel discussion, “Partnering with the Pharmaceutical Industry” in front of 160 interested researchers, students and entrepreneurs in the U of A’s Clinical Sciences Building.
“To create and commercialize a new drug now takes 10 to 12 years and costs $1 billion,” says TEC Health Accelerator program director and panel moderator Jason Ding. “Developing health-related products takes expertise at many levels including clinical and regulatory experience, large amounts of capital and a marketing field team. In today’s business environment, the current model requires smaller companies and researchers to partner with large multi-nationals to get their products to market.”
Of special interest currently to the pharmaceutical companies are immune-oncology and new immunology mechanisms (Merck), rare genetic diseases (Genzyme) and global health products with world-wide application (Johnson & Johnson).
Asked what’s the best “pitch” from a researcher to get the attention of a pharmaceutical company, Xanthoudakis suggested that if the researcher “has a clear understanding of the (scientific) mechanism to reach a well-defined target, often a bio-marker and showing that they have a compound that works … we’d be very interested.”
For Genzyme, a demonstrated medical need with a genetic understanding was important.
Cut to the chase, suggested Johnson & Johnson advisor Hamilton – don’t waste time on general information. Does your solution have relevance, she asked, or in other words “is it better than what is out there?”
To reach the “Confidential Disclosure Agreement” (CDA) stage with a major company is a milestone, but no guarantee of success. “Merck looks at 5,000 to 6,000 possibilities a year,” said Steve. “About 10% reach a CDA, then Merck does about 50 to 60 deals a year – about 1% of everything we look at.”
Once a deal has been reached with a major pharmaceutical company, research and development funding often follows. All three companies – Johnson & Johnson, Merck and Genzyme also have their own or associated health corporate venture capital funds.
Despite the desire and practicality of finding better and more cost-effective solutions to human suffering, the three representatives acknowledged that pharmaceutical companies must turn a profit or they will go out of business. However, all three company spokespeople agreed that for them, their love of science was at the heart of the matter. “We all have partnerships that study the diseases themselves,” said Jennifer, “with no drug in mind.”
As part of the TEC Health Accelerator program, the strategic partners – both medical companies and health investment firms – will be coming to Alberta on a regular basis to meet with possible research or business partners based in the province.
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