Canadian start-ups recognized with Mitacs’s Entrepreneur Awards

COVID-19 economic recovery depends upon innovation and small businesses

Vancouver, BC — Mitacs recognizes five up-and-coming researchers-turned-entrepreneurs for their groundbreaking innovations that are helping to propel Canada’s economy forward — and ultimately, improve the lives of Canadians — amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards celebrate start-up companies founded by outstanding former Mitacs interns, postdoctoral fellows, and training participants, who have gone on to start their own businesses.

“The global pandemic highlights more than ever how important it is to recognize and support local innovation, and Mitacs is extremely proud of the continued creativity and ingenuity shown by our network of young entrepreneurs,” said Mitacs CEO and Scientific Director John Hepburn, pointing to a survey that shows nearly two out of every 10 Mitacs interns choose to pursue their own business. “Not only will their inventions ultimately help Canada to recover from this crisis, but with continued investment in talent, research and development, they will ensure we keep our spot in the global innovation economy.”

“Congratulations to the entrepreneurs recognized today. Your hard work and perseverance, coupled with your great ideas, are helping to position Canada as a global innovation leader,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “Mitacs is a key player in connecting businesses and academia with Canada’s post-secondary students to provide cutting-edge solutions to today’s challenges. Our government is proud to support the exciting work of Mitacs and our entrepreneurs.”

The five 2020 Mitacs Entrepreneur Award winners are:

Outstanding Entrepreneur: Miayan Yeremi, 31, a Mitacs PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of British Columbia, and co-founder of Vancouver-based BarrelWise Technologies. Yeremi’s company has invented a breakthrough technology that provides winemakers with unprecedented automated information that lets them know exactly what’s going on inside each oak barrel in a wine cellar — a task typically done manually, and which a study shows can be conducted up to 74 per cent faster using the company’s technology.

Global Impact Entrepreneur: Sheamus MacDonald, 30, a Mitacs master’s student in the Department of Marine Studies at Newfoundland’s Memorial University, and president and co-founder of Dalhousie-based Sedna Technologies. MacDonald is disrupting the fishing industry with the world’s first high-tech mobile system that decreases seafood waste, increases revenue, and brings transparency to the seafood supply chain from sea-to-plate by tracking, tracing, and monitoring the real-time conditions of seafood products, starting at the dock.

Environmental Entrepreneur: Raghavender Sahdev, 26, a former Mitacs intern at the University of Toronto who went on to earn his Master of Computer Science at York University, and now President and CEO of Toronto-based NuPort Robotics. Sahdev is being recognized for his company’s launch of Canada’s first autonomous trucking company, which will use eco-friendly, self-driving electric trucks for short-haul shuttle runs between distribution centres, warehouses, and ports, promising to change the way retailers, manufacturers, and logistics companies move goods.

Change Agent Entrepreneur: Andrée-Ann Adam, 27, a former Mitacs master’s student in the Department of Microbiology at the Université Laval, and president and co-founder of Quebec City-based Animora. Adam is filling a gap in the pet care market with the launch of a first-of-its-kind all-natural dental gel for dogs and cats — the only pet care product that fights gum inflammation and bacterial infection at the same time.

Social Entrepreneur and Pitch Competition Award (sponsored by StartUp Canada): Azadeh Dastmalchi, 34, a Mitacs PhD candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Ottawa, and CEO and co-founder of Montréal-based VitalTracer. Dastmalchi is being honoured for keeping people healthier and safer with the launch of a first-of-its-kind medical-grade smartwatch that continuously measures all five vital signs and provides cardiac monitoring in one device, and also serves as an early stage COVID-19 prediction and monitoring solution.

Quick Facts:

  • Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions.
  • Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, the Government of Saskatchewan and the Government of Yukon.
  • The 2020 Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards are sponsored by Ciena and Startup Canada.