Recap: TEC VenturePrize 2015

TEC Edmonton held its 13th annual VenturePrize Awards this evening at the Shaw Conference Centre. A total of $150,000 in prizes was handed out to three deserving companies. TEC Edmonton says the competition is a win for all of the participating companies, as they receive mentorship, publicity, possibly new investors, but it’s also a win for Alberta:

“Nine new technology-based companies, creating new wealth. Companies on the leading-edge of their sector, companies hiring highly educated individuals, companies using the knowledge of our post-secondary institutions and their graduates, companies paying corporate taxes, companies fulfilling Alberta’s desire to be less dependent on the energy sector alone.”

There are three different competitions that make up VenturePrize now. The Fast Growth category is for general high-growth businesses, the TELUS ICT category is for technology-focused enteprises, and the Student category is for businesses started by post-secondary students from throughout the province. In each category, there are three finalists but only one winner.

VenturePrize 2015

Here were the finalists for 2015:

Fast Growth

  • Alieo Games is an educational technology company that recently launched COW, a writing app for students and teachers from kindergarten to Gr. 12. COW provides a safe and fun space for students to practice writing (building writing fluency and vocabulary) and to share their work with classmates. For teachers, COW uses text analysis to provide useful feedback that they can use to customize their lesson plans to meet the specific needs of their students.
  • Pogo CarShare is Edmonton’s first car sharing service. Founded and managed locally, Pogo provides members 24/7 access to a pool of vehicles located within a central zone in our city on a simple pay-as-you-go basis. Cars can be located, reserved and opened using the Pogo app.
  • Sensassure is a wearable technology sensor solution for the incontinent – alerting nursing staff in extended care homes to the need to change incontinence underwear. Sensassure helps restore dignity to those who suffer from incontinence by automating existing manual care processes, leading to timely changes that prevent secondary conditions from developing.

VenturePrize 2015

TELUS ICT

  • OMx is accelerating the development of advanced molecular diagnostics with technologies to analyze and combine data about the chemicals, proteins and DNA in the body. Their first product helps improve and optimize diet and lifestyle with a urine test that measures indicators for diet and wellness.
  • MasV is a software company within the oil and gas sector, MASV has a new way to benefit both rental companies and renters of oil and gas equipment. By connecting renters to the rental companies that have the relevant items, they reduce downtime stress while increasing profit for both parties.
  • Advancing Edge Technologies addresses technology deficiencies with diagnosis reporting in anatomical pathology (providing patients with the final diagnosis from tissue biopsies and body fluids). Their state-of-the-art touchscreen-based examination software delivers a more streamlined, accurate, and consistent pathology diagnostic report while also saving money and time.

VenturePrize 2015

Student

  • Alberta Craft Malting – Olds College: Alberta Craft Malting uses Alberta barley to develop specialty made-in-Alberta malts – a crucial ingredient in the making of beer. The use of local grains means brewers can now access specialty malts made from local barley considered among the world’s best, rather than depending on out-of-province suppliers.
  • Scout – University of Alberta: Scout is a marketing platform for small and medium businesses that incorporates a smartphone based loyalty program. The Scout app replaces traditional punch cards and allows merchants to create a loyalty program tailored specifically to them, allowing them to truly interact with their customers.
  • NoLemon Automotive Inc. – University of Alberta: By offering an online classified platform providing third-party vehicle inspections, NoLemon helps buyers and sellers more effectively navigate the vehicle transaction process. NoLemon provides the comfort and confidence individuals seek in making their vehicle purchasing decisions.

VenturePrize 2015

Some of these companies were familiar to me and it’s great to see them continuing to grow and evolve. Alieo Games was of course the winner of last year’s student category and they presented at Launch Party 5 back in October along with fellow Fast Growth competitor Pogo CarShare and MASV and OMx from the TELUS ICT category (and OMx was at DemoCamp earlier this month) And in the Student category, I have seen Scout at a previous VMS event and around town at various retail locations such as Earth’s General Store and Remedy Cafe. It’s an encouraging sign that companies are moving through the pipeline, from hackathon to business plan and beyond.

VenturePrize 2015

Here are your 2015 winners:

Screeners Award of Merit
Physio4D

Edmonton Journal People’s Choice Award
Alieo Games

Student VenturePrize Competition
Alberta Craft Malting

TELUS ICT Competition
OMx

Fast Growth Competition
Sensassure

Congratulations!

Our host for the evening was Ryan Jespersen and while he always brings an energetic approach to his emcee duties, I think he deserves a special shoutout tonight for dealing with a challenging room.

VenturePrize 2015

This year TEC Edmonton wanted to change the format to see if they could encourage more networking. That meant using more of Hall D and getting rid of the round tables in favor of cocktail tables and theatre-style seating. The program started on the west stage and then moved to the east stage. In terms of networking, it was a big success! But I suspect the format will be changed for next year as no one was paying attention to the speakers and presentations for the first half of the show.

There were a couple of other awards handed out this evening too. The inaugural Ross & Verna Tate Science Entrepreneurship Award was awarded to Alieo Games. The other award was the Peace Country Regional Science Fair Award, which went to Michael Fyfe from Glenmary School in Peace River. Science fairs sound like they’re becoming more interesting – the PCRSF now includes an entrepreneurial event called Bear Cave (inspired by Dragons Den). Michael was the 2015 Bear Cave Grand Prize winner.

Congratulations to all of the participants in this year’s competition and especially to this year’s winners. Thanks to TEC Edmonton for providing me with a seat tonight to capture the action. You can see a few more photos here.