Discovery competitions help further high-potential innovations

May 25, 2016

Bolis Ibrahim and Oleh Zhyhinas of Argentum Electronics, winners of the David McFadden Energy Entrepreneur Challenge. Pictured with: The Hon. Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation and Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities; Michael Nobrega, Chair of the Board, OCE; Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO, OCE; and David McFadden, Counsel, Gowling WLG.

Each year, Discovery is proud to host various competitions aimed at helping next-generation innovators pursue their big ideas and solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. And 2016 was no exception.

The third annual David McFadden Energy Entrepreneur Challenge, an initiative of Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), invited university and college students from across Ontario to find entrepreneurial solutions to challenges facing the energy sector.

Students pitched their business ideas addressing this year’s theme of “Conservation as a tool for meeting the world’s energy challenges” in three-minute videos posted on YouTube. Ten finalists were chosen to pitch in front of an expert panel at Discovery on May 10.

Announced at Discovery, the winners of the 2016 David McFadden Energy Entrepreneur Challenge are Bolis Ibrahim and Oleh Zhyhinas of Argentum Electronics, from Ryerson University. Their energy innovation, the All2One Solar Power Combiner (A2O), is a “smart solar controller” that incorporates existing small-scale solar-power technologies with a unique circuit design, allowing homeowners to more efficiently generate electricity and lower dependence on the grid.

Bolis Ibrahim and Oleh Zhyhinas will receive $25,000 and a suite of business services to assist in advancing their winning business concept.

OCE, in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI), also hosted the second Accessibility Innovation Showcase and Tech Pitch Competition at Discovery on May 9 and 10.

Five Ontario-based companies pitched accessibility-focused innovations to members of the investment community, leaders in accessibility and OCE representatives on May 9 for a $20,000 award.

The winner of the Accessibility Tech Pitch Competition, announced at Discovery, is Arjun Mali of iMerciv. iMerciv aims to improve the overall quality of life for those living with vision loss with its wearable assistive technology device, the Buzzclip.

In partnership with MEDEI, MaRS Centre for Impact Investing and the Centre for Social Innovation, OCE was also proud to host the second Social Enterprise Zone and Pitch Competition at Discovery on May 9 and 10.

Out of eight finalists who competed, Jocelyn Molyneux of Wastenot Worm Farms was announced as the winner of the Social Enterprise Pitch Competition at Discovery. Wastenot Worm Farms’ workplace food waste recycling service transforms organics into biofertilizer on the company’s worm farm.  

Molyneux will receive an award package valued at $20,000, including a $5,000 award from MEDEI, a $5,000 award from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and a $10,000 legal-services package from Norton Rose Fulbright to assist with further development of her business.

To help innovative, youth-led (18–29), tech start-ups enter their first global market, OCE hosted the first GlobalStart Pitch Competition in partnership with KIGA Labs and the Korea Institute of Startup and Entrepreneurship Development (KISED) at Discovery.

Three Ontario companies were selected as finalists to compete for the OCE GlobalStart award at Discovery on May 9. Similarly, three Korean companies were jointly selected by KIGA Labs and KISED as finalists to compete in Korea for an equivalent award from KISED.

The Ontario winner of the GlobalStart Pitch Competition is Behram O’Habib of PinPress, which has created a time-saving solution for manufacturers. Behram O’Habib received a GlobalStart award from OCE valued at $15,000 to support travel, accommodation and living expenses, and hosting costs at the incubator/accelerator selected by the start-up. In addition, Keiretsu Forum gave Behram O’Habib a GlobalTrade Academy Course valued at $3,000.

The Korean winner is Soohong Park from Bagel Labs, which is creating the world’s smartest tape measure. Soohong Park received an equivalent GlobalStart award from KISED and a workshop providing mentoring and business planning support from KIGA Labs.

Finally, Discovery was pleased to host the fourth edition of Young Entrepreneurs, Make Your Pitch, an entrepreneurship competition for Ontario high school students presented in collaboration with OCE and MEDEI as part of the Youth Jobs Strategy.

Twenty finalists from across Ontario, chosen through a combination of public and expert voting based on a two-minute video, pitched their business ideas in front of a live audience and a judging panel comprised of young, influential entrepreneurs and investors.

Based on the live pitches, the judges selected six winners who were presented with a Nymi Band from Nymi, a Muse brain-sensing headband by InteraXon, and reserved entry into the Summer Company program.

This year’s winners, announced at Discovery, were:

  • Sean Cornelius, St. André Bassette Catholic Secondary School, London
  • Alicia Kejick, Beaver Brae Secondary School, Thunder Bay
  • Matthew Piercey, Heritage Christian Academy, Barrie
  • Betty Pu, Bayview Secondary School, Richmond Hill
  • Kailyn Seo, North Park Secondary School, Brampton
  • Rose Shao, St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School, Mississauga