Entrepreneurs awarded for innovations in food, health, environment, aviation, and AI

Halifax, NS – The 4th annual Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards recognize five up-and-coming Canadian researchers-turned-entrepreneurs, and one company, for their ground-breaking innovations. Their innovations serve to strengthen Canada’s economy and improve the lives of Canadians.

The Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards, held this year for the first time in Halifax, celebrate start-up companies founded by outstanding former Mitacs interns and postdoctoral fellows, who have created their own businesses.

“Canada has exceptional talent and Mitacs is extremely proud to support young entrepreneurs in spring-boarding to market the next generation of innovations,” said Alejandro Adem, Mitacs CEO and Scientific Director, noting that one out of every 10 Mitacs interns chooses to launch their own business. “Their contributions are strengthening the Canadian economy, spurring productivity, and creating jobs.”

There are six 2019 Mitacs Entrepreneur Award winners:

Outstanding Entrepreneur: Tanzina Huq, 34, a former Mitacs postdoctoral fellow at the University of New Brunswick, and co-founder and chief technology officer of Fredericton-based start-up Chinova Bioworks. Huq’s company is disrupting the food and beverage industry with the launch of a first-of-its-kind all natural, clean label preservative that ensures food safety and a longer shelf life without the health risks associated with artificial preservatives.

Global Impact Entrepreneur: Hamed Hanafi, 33, a former Mitacs intern at Dalhousie University, and founder and president of Halifax-based start-up NovaResp Technologies. Hanafi is poised to revolutionize the treatment of sleep apnea and other breathing conditions with the launch of a unique respiratory monitoring device that provides a safer, more comfortable, and more effective solution for patients, helping them get a better night’s sleep.

Environmental Entrepreneur: Beatriz Molero, 32, a former Mitacs postdoctoral fellow at the University of Calgary, and chief technology officer and co-founder of Calgary-based SeeO2 Energy. Molero is recognized for her company’s breakthrough solution that converts greenhouse gas emissions into high-value fuels and chemicals before they are released into the environment, helping to reverse a global trend that is seeing global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions soar to record-breaking levels.

Change Agent Entrepreneur: Ephraim Nowak, 26, a former Mitacs intern at the University of British Columbia, and founder and CEO of Kelowna-based startup Percept Systems. Nowak is filling a void in the aviation market with the launch of a first-of-its-kind lightweight and simple-to-install cockpit video recorder and flight data monitoring solution that increases safety for small aircrafts. Percept recently advanced through the new UBC Okanagan e@UBCO Lean LaunchPad Accelerator Program; the start-up has just been accepted into its Accelerator in The Innovation Centre, a newly approved Mitacs incubator. 

Social Entrepreneur: Hachem Agili, 31, a former Mitacs from Université Laval, pursuing his doctorate at Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS); and co-founder, president, and CEO of Quebec City-based Geosapiens. Agili is honoured for improving flood risk management, and ultimately keep people safe, with the launch of a first-of-tis-kind online tool that accurately assesses and predicts the impact of flood waters on people, buildings, and infrastructure.

A special Mitacs 20th Anniversary Award was presented to Montreal-based Element AI in recognition of the company’s commitment to innovation and its entrepreneurial spirit. With a shared history with Mitacs, the Element AI team was able to springboard the development and commercialization of its technology, and in just three years since its 2016 inception, employ 500 people in five offices around the world.


Quick Facts:

Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada for business and academia. Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada, all provincial governments, as well as university and industry partners.

Mitacs internships connect companies and organizations with graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, who apply their specialized expertise to research challenges.

Working with more than 60 universities, thousands of companies, and both federal and provincial governments, Mitacs builds partnerships that support industrial and social innovation in Canada. Open to all disciplines and all industry sectors, projects can span a wide range of areas, including manufacturing, business processes, IT, social sciences, design and more.

Learn more:

For information about Mitacs and its programs, visit mitacs.ca/newsroom.


Mitacs 2019 Entrepreneur Awards: Bruce MacDougall, Mitacs Board of Directors; Alice Aiken, Dalhousie University; The Honourable Keith Colwell, Minister of Agriculture, and Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, the Government of Nova Scotia; Hamed Hanafi, NovaResp Technologies;  Beatriz Moreno Sanchez, SeeO2 Energy; Marc-Etienne Ouimette, Element AI; Hachem Agili, Geosapiens; Tanzina Huq, Chinova Bioworks; Alejandro Adem, Mitacs; and Surita Maddox, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Government of Canada.