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.