Canadian entrepreneurs recognized for helping to solve critical health care, employment, and environmental issues

Toronto, ON — Six up-and-coming Canadian entrepreneurs received recognition, and a total of $25,000, for their groundbreaking industry contributions that are helping to improve the lives of Canadians. They were awarded at the 2017 Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards tonight at MaRs Discovery District in Toronto.

Mitacs launched the awards in 2015 as a way to celebrate start-up companies founded by outstanding former Mitacs interns, postdoctoral fellows, and training participants, who have gone on to lead their respective fields as independent business owners.

Applicants for the 2017 Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards were evaluated according to their ability to demonstrate sound business planning, entrepreneurial spirit, and commitment to continued excellence in research and innovation.

The 2017 Mitacs Entrepreneur Award winners are:

Next 150 Entrepreneur: Yaser Roshan, a former PhD student at Simon Fraser University and co-founder of Vancouver-based Ophthalight Digital Solutions, a company whose first-of-its-kind eye exam headset makes it possible to administer routine tests quickly, accurately and remotely — a first for teleophthalmology — and helps with early detection and prevention of diseases such as glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and eye cancer. The company’s flagship product, O-Glass, will be available in the Middle East this summer and in Canada by the end of the year.

Social Entrepreneur: Arash Samimi, a former PhD student at Queen’s University and co-founder of the Toronto-based Livelihood Project, a not-for profit organization that has developed a state-of-the-art, science-backed career coach app. The technology helps refugees and under-skilled workers find meaningful, long-term employment in today’s challenging work environment where jobs are at risk due to advances in automation. The company’s innovative program includes mobile technology that works like a Fitbit to keep people on track with their career goals, and shifts the mindset of employment services from job matching to job readiness.

Global Impact Entrepreneur: Asha Srinivasan, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia and co-founder of Vancouver-based Boost Environmental Systems, a company that is working to safeguard the world’s water quality through the commercialization of a novel approach to treating dairy farm manure and sewage sludge. Called IMPACT, the breakthrough technology is solving urgent problems facing the worldwide agricultural and wastewater treatment industries and is positioning Canada as a frontrunner is clean tech solutions for sustainable waste management.

Outstanding Entrepreneur: Ashwaq Al-Hashedi, a postdoctoral fellow at McGill University and co-founder of 2D-CrystaLab, a company that is working to improve dental health among seniors through the commercialization of advanced toothpastes that prevent infection and improve long-term hygiene of tooth implants and dentures. The toothpastes use a food-grade nanomaterial — developed in partnership with scientists at Université de Montréal and Harvard University — that is 20,000 times thinner than a human hair but that has shown to be more effective at cleaning dental implants compared to existing conventional toothpastes. The product is a first-of-its-kind in North America and represents a breakthrough innovation in dental implant hygiene.

Change Agent Entrepreneurs: Ilyass Tabiai and Rolland Delorme, PhD students at École Polytechnique de Montréal and co-founders of 3D TRIP, a company that specializes in 3-D printing. Capitalizing on the rapidly growing 3-D printing industry, 3D TRIP is developing new advanced polymers and composites that will help companies to advance 3-D printing of plastic materials from prototype to production line.


Alejandro Adem, CEO and Scientific Director, Mitacs

“Mitacs is building on Canada’s strengthened commitment to technology and innovation by continuing to support up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Our programs equip researchers with the career skills they need to successfully transfer breakthrough technologies, community and educational improvements, and environmental solutions from the lab to the business world.”

Quick facts:

  • Mitacs is a national, not-for-profit organization that has designed and delivered research and training programs in Canada for 17 years to support industrial and social innovation in Canada.
  • Mitacs’ research internship programs connect graduate students and postdoctoral fellows with industry and not-for-profit partners for collaborations supervised by faculty.
  • Mitacs acknowledges the Government of Canada, along with Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, and the Government of Saskatchewan for their support.


Photo above from left to right: Ilyass Tabiai, Rolland Dellorme, Ashwaq Al-Hashedi, the Honourable Deb Matthews, Arash Samimi, Alejandro Adem, Asha Srinivasan, and Yaser Roshan.

Photo gallery

2017 Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards / Prix des entrepreneurs Mitacs


Ceremony video