Mitacs Entrepreneurs recognized for their contributions to solar energy, coastal engineering, nutrition, and gaming
Calgary, AB – Four up-and-coming Mitacs entrepreneurs received recognition for their groundbreaking industry contributions with the launch of the Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards, awarded on May 12, 2015, in Calgary. For the first time, Mitacs celebrated start-up companies founded by outstanding alumni—former interns, postdoctoral fellows and workshop participants—who have gone on to be independent business owners and are leading their respective fields.
“Canada needs highly skilled innovation leaders to drive a productive and prosperous economy and this award recognizes those who are doing just that,” said Mitacs CEO Alejandro Adem, noting that as many as 14 per cent of former Mitacs interns launch their own companies as a way to commercialize important research and development.
Applicants for the Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards were evaluated according to their Mitacs experience, entrepreneurship, leadership, innovation, and financial sustainability. Three cash prizes ($20,000, $15,000, $10,000) and an honourable mention were presented at a networking reception and short ceremony held at the Alistair Ross Technology Centre.
The four 2015 Mitacs Entrepreneur Award winners are:
First place recipient
Richard Beal, a former Mitacs Elevate postdoctoral fellow and founder of COFOVO Energy Inc. in Ottawa, a company that is working to reduce the cost of generating electricity using large-scale solar energy systems. COFOVO innovations include the development of highly-efficient solar panels that double the efficiency of standard panels at half the cost; and, a breakthrough device for measuring the sun’s wavelengths that is a fraction of the cost of current technology. The first commercial COFOVO Solar System is scheduled for installation this year.
Second place recipient
Guilliame Brault, a former Mitacs Accelerate intern and co-founder of Quebec-based Inova Source, a company that aims to be a leader in the Canadian nutrition-pharmaceutical (neutraceutical) industry by advancing the processes used to convert algae by-products into high-demand vitamin and food supplements.
Third place recipients
Neesha Desai and Kit Chen, participants in the Mitacs Step program, who were inspired to launch an educational start-up called Alieo Games, based in Edmonton. Their first product, COW, is a web app that motivates students in grades 3–9 to practice long-form writing through gamification and assists teachers with classroom writing instruction. The app is now in 30 schools in North America.
Clayton Hiles, a former Mitacs Accelerate intern who launched Victoria-based Cascadia Coast Research Ltd., a consulting firm that provides expert ocean modelling services to advance the marine renewable energy industry and protect Canadian coastlines from the risk of rising sea levels, the effects of climate change, and tsunami. In its first three years of business, the company completed 24 projects for 16 clients, primarily serving as a valuable sub-contractor to larger engineering firms.