“Entrepreneurship is alive and well in Alberta:” TEC Edmonton takes on the Startup Canada Awards
What happens when you put dozens of entrepreneurs in a room with local business leaders and incubators, add a radio personality, and throw in some awards? An inspiring and entertaining evening celebrating the spirit of Canadian entrepreneurship. This was the first time the Startup Canada Awards for the Prairie Region came to Edmonton, where the ceremony was co-hosted by TEC Edmonton and Startup Edmonton.
We kicked off the evening with a cocktail reception sponsored by Wolf Blass Wine where the attendees, award winners and presenters had the chance to mingle and strike a pose in front of the Startup Canada photo wall.
The talented Ryan Jespersen, host of the Ryan Jespersen Show on 630 CHED served as emcee for the evening, and delivered some laughs as he got the ceremony started. “We have the opportunity tonight to show the rest of Canada our entrepreneurial spirit,” he pointed out.
David Shepherd, MLA for Edmonton Centre took to the stage first to welcome everyone to the awards and thank all the winners for their passion, commitment, and creativity. Next up, Ward 10 City Councillor Michael Walters spoke to the crowd about the importance of innovation in staying connected and competitive as a region.
Kristina Williams, CEO of the Alberta Enterprise Corporation delivered the keynote address. She focused on the importance of entrepreneurs being plugged into a supportive community of innovators, as well as knowing when to ask for help when you need it. Kristina also gave three pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: leave your ego at the door, listen, and give back to your community.
After much anticipation, the awards were presented:
Shaheel Hooda, TEC Edmonton Executive in Residence took home the Entrepreneur Promotion Award for his work in mentoring budding ICT companies and helping these companies raise capital. Shaheel was hesitant to take all the credit for his work however, stating that “it takes a village to raise a startup to success.”
The Entrepreneur Support Award was presented to North Forge Technology Exchange, a Winnipeg-based economic development agency that accelerates innovation and commercialization in Manitoba.
Surface Medical, a Calgary-based medical device company that focuses on combatting hospital-acquired infections took home the Global Entrepreneurship Award for its exporting success.
The Social Enterprise Award is awarded to a company that exhibits excellence in its approach to the environment, ethics, community interaction, and corporate social responsibility. This year’s award went to Aki Energy, a company that works with First Nations to start green businesses in their communities, creating local jobs and growing strong local economies.
The Innovation Award is one of the most sought-after Startup Canada Awards. This year, TEC Edmonton client Exciton Technologies took it home for developing and commercializing a line of innovative silver-based wound care products. Exciton CEO Rod Precht stated that he is very happy to be in Edmonton, and grateful for the City of Edmonton’s Health City Initiative that aims to increase access to capital for local health sector companies.
The High-Growth Award was presented to 7Shifts, a software company that specializes in shift-scheduling for the restaurant industry.
Serial entrepreneur Swarochish Goswami took home the Young Entrepreneur award for his work heading up six ventures at only 19 years old.
The Senior Entrepreneur award went to Alison Kennedy of Kennedy Cognitive Services for her work providing engagement and emotional support for individuals with dementia.
Dr. Nancy Markley of the health and wellness company MPowrx was awarded the Woman Entrepreneur Award for developing a company that delivers snoring and sleep apnea products.
Finally, the two most sought-after Startup Canada awards were presented: the Entrepreneur of the Year Award and the Adam Chowaniec Lifetime Achievement Award.
Pieter Boekhoff took home the Entrepreneur of the Year Award for his work in advocating for and developing the Calgary startup community, as well as his leadership in several technology ventures, most recently Nobal Technologies.
TEC Edmonton’s Executive Vice-President of Business Development Randy Yatscoff was awarded the prestigious Adam Chowaniec Lifetime Achievement Award. During his 10 years at TEC Edmonton, Randy has overseen the mentorship and development of over 300 companies, and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in equity financing for the biotech sector. While accepting his award, Randy declared that “entrepreneurship is alive and well in Alberta and Canada.”
The evening concluded with all the award-winning talent gathering on stage for one final group photo. Thank you to Startup Canada and Startup Edmonton for hosting the awards with us, and for all our volunteers and award presenters. Most importantly, thank you to all the award winners for making Canada’s prairie region a powerhouse for innovation, and an inspiring place to live and work.
We know that in the last five years, TEC Edmonton has helped form 22 spinoff companies form, bringing their innovations one step closer to commercialization. But how much do we know about where these innovations start? TEC Edmonton’s annual Innovation Makes Sense event celebrates where innovations originate, which is the researchers from the University of Alberta.
Last week for the fourth year in a row, TEC Edmonton celebrated patent awards to researchers and their teams, as well as achievement awards for four newly-formed University of Alberta spinoff companies.
Dr. Walter Dixon of the University of Alberta Vice President (Research) Office
Jay Haugen of Dentons
Representatives from TEC Edmonton, Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, University of Alberta’s Office of the Vice-President Research, Government of Alberta, and Dentons Canada all joined to help recognize the achievements of researchers who work hard to put Alberta on the map for innovative achievements.
Cheryl Watson of EEDC
Jay Kumar, TEC Edmonton’s Vice-President of Technology Management pointed out that 419 patents have been issued to the University of Alberta in the last 10 years, and that the University of Alberta comes in second in Canada for U.S. patents issued. These are no small achievements, and are all due to the strong culture of research and innovation that is cultivated at the University of Alberta.
Jay Kumar of TEC Edmonton
Dr. David Bressler, Director of the Biorefining Conversions Network and Professor in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences, gave a keynote address that focused on how research drives innovation, using his own venture, Forge Hydrocarbons, as an example.
Dr. David Bressler of Forge Hydrocarbons and the University of Alberta, Faculty of ALES
In total, six faculties were represented by the patent and spinoff award recipients, with innovations ranging from clean energy to health to engineering. The recognitions also represented years of hard work and support by research teams, funders, and partners.
Thank you to all who came out to celebrate the work of University of Alberta researchers and the culture of innovation and commercialization in the region.
All patent and spinoff achievement award recipients
Not very many people can say they’ve gotten a shoutout from the leader of their country. A TEC Edmonton client, the Canada Learning Initiative in China, was recently recognized by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a joint statement between Canada and the People’s Republic of China as a result of Premier Li Keqiang’s official visit to Canada from September 21 to 24.
The purpose of the visit was overall to strengthen the relationship between Canada and China. The visit resulted in a series of signed agreements, which can be read in full here. One of the agreements involves the expansion of the Canada Learning Initiative in China (CLIC) program, a partnership that helps Canadian students gain experience in China as a part of their degree program. Although its main office is located in Edmonton, CLIC is a collaboration between six Canadian universities across the country and the Chinese Ministry of Education.
There is a significantly higher number of Chinese students studying abroad in Canada than there are Canadian students studying in China, and CLIC exists to try and close this gap. With approximately 4,000 Canadian students per year travelling to China to study, CLIC’s goal is to eventually increase this number to 100,000. CLIC makes studying abroad accessible by offering Canadian students fully-funded opportunities to study in China, allowing students to earn degree credits while being immersed in another culture.
CLIC believes it’s important for Canadian students to study in China in order for them to get to know the country’s history and culture, as well as understand Canada’s increasingly important relationship with China as a partner in trade, technology, and culture.
TEC Edmonton’s Business Development team and Executive in Residence Jim Armstrong assisted CLIC during its launch and pilot process, as well as building its website, and developing its visual identity.
For more information on CLIC, visit their website.
What do vertical farming, affordable prosthetics, hip dysplasia diagnostics, and cancer killing viruses have in common? All were the subject of student and company presentations at the third annual University of Alberta Falling Walls, hosted by the Office of the Vice President (Research) and TEC Edmonton.
On Thursday, September 29, the University of Alberta’s TELUS Centre was transformed into a TED Talk/Dragon’s Den-like mashup of ideas and innovations as University of Alberta students and science-based startup companies presented their pitches on a breakthrough concept.
The Falling Walls Foundation is a Berlin-based organization that was founded on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It serves as a platform for academics and leaders in science, business, politics, the arts, and society, and asks what the next “walls” are to fall in our society.
This year, the Falling Walls Venture competition was brought to Edmonton for the first time, where science-based startup companies compete for a spot to present to internationally renowned academics and decision makers at the annual Falling Walls conference, taking place in Berlin November 8-9. The Venture portion of the event was hosted by TEC Edmonton, who selected the presenting companies, prepped and coached the companies, and recruited the jury. All Venture competition participants received free BaseCamp coaching from Randy Thompson, Edmonton Chapter President of VA Angels.
Three companies were named finalists of the Venture competition: aGRO Systems, G2V Optics, and Mighty Dredge. In the end, Mighty Dredge emerged as the winner and will be going on to present in Berlin. The Fort McMurray-based company that developed a device that cleans up standing water masses like tailings ponds.
The other half of the event, Falling Walls Lab, is an international competition designed to showcase the talent and innovative ideas of the next generation of researchers. Lab competitions take place in over 30 countries.
Lab participants have three minutes to present their idea or innovation to a jury from post-secondary, government, or industry. The top 100 winners from around the world will advance to present in Berlin. The lab portion only requires that the idea exhibit social impact, or a “big idea” that has the potential to bring about real change.
The student winners of the Lab portion of the competition were: Kyle Potts (First place: Breaking the Wall of Cancer Therapy with Viruses), Abhilash Rakkunedeth (Second place, Breaking the Wall of Hip Dysplasia), and Katherine Evans (Third place, Breaking the Wall of Sensory Feedback in Prosthetic Limbs). All three student winners will advance to Berlin.
Lorne Babiuk, Vice President (Research), presented the winning companies and students with certificates. Congratulations to all, and good luck in Berlin!
Learn more about Falling Walls at the University of Alberta here.
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Flow Cytometry Sensing Using Diffracted Orders of a Grating
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Off-Axis Spiral Phase Mirrors To Create Vortex Beams
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