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What goes in, must come out.

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
  • Global Edmonton
  • Parlee McLaws
  • TELUS
  • Bloom Burton
  • DynaLIFE Dx
  • Merck
  • Janssen
  • AIMCo
  • DynacorMedia
  • Field Law
  • NAIT
  • PwC
  • Alberta Women Entrepreneurs
  • Business Link
  • Innovate Calgary
  • Campbell Scientific
  • ProGrid
  • TSX Venture Exchange
  • FrischkornMEDIACO