Final-10 entrepreneurs chosen in U of S Tech Venture Challenge

Ten entrepreneurs with ideas ranging from e-publishing, e-health, biofuels, mechanical engineering, and audio special effects will begin working on turning their ideas into businesses as finalists in the Tech Venture Challenge. The finalists were announced in Saskatoon May 10.

By Mark Ferguson
"These programs give you the opportunity to create something, and the confidence to take the leap. They force you to be bold, take risks, and work like you've never worked before," says finalist Jacqueline Cook of TRIUMF Mobile Rewards.

Over the next three months, the finalists will be mentored and guided through the stages of business creation. One will win the grand prize: office space at Innovation Place, services from Deloitte, and $50,000 from the Industry Liaison Office to get their new venture off the ground. But the value of participating in the Tech Venture Challenge extends well beyond the prize.

"Money is necessary, I won't argue that. But if I had a choice between a pile of cash and mentors, I'd probably take the latter," Cook says.

The panel of judges looked at 29 applications for the most innovative technology-based business ideas with the team who believes they can make it happen.

"It was a diverse pool of intriguing, commercially viable technology ideas from the applicants," says Rob Hendry, one of the competition judges, "We wish we could have recommended more than 10 – they would all benefit from the business advisory support being offered."

The Tech Venture Challenge finalists are:

  • iCaregiver – Jenny Basran, Valerie Wellens
    A mobile application to help caregivers manage and monitor their loved ones even when they are not able to be there in person.

  • Student Assessment Systems – Kalyani Premkumar, Neil Cowie
    A technology that allows multiple-centred, multiple-station student assessment using multiple examiners for clinical examinations in all medical fields of study.

  • Done40 – David Robinson, Hongxing Geng, Tasnuva Ireen
    Backend technology for a website for sharing events and building unique calendars, populated based on users' interests.

  • TRIUMF Mobile Rewards – Jacqueline Cook, Ethan Baron, Paul Lee, Freddy Chen
    A secure mobile platform that allows retailers to offer customer reward or loyalty programs in one consolidated system.

  • INS Innovations – Josh Simpkins, Carla Simpkins, Mike Simpkins Sr. & Jr., Raquel Wenarchuk
    A technology to maximize internal combustion efficiency.

  • Willow Biofuels – Kurt Woytiuk, Regan Gerspacher, Bill Campbell, Ryan Hangs
    Develop and manufacture specialty equipment to pelletize coppice willow and offer turnkey solution for establishing willow plantations on marginal land.

  • Mobile Information Security System – Trevor Paschke, Adam Knox, Paul Dhaliwal
    Provides password security solutions for businesses using mobile device applications.

  • Farm Land Rental  – Lyndon Lisitza
    Connects farm land owners and renters through an online auction website.

  • Audio Effects Box – Randy Day, Andrew Miller, Gordon Anderson
    An audio effects box that mounts directly onto a guitar, replacing an array of single-purpose components or synthesizers.

  • Indie Ink  (digital publishing) – Jeff Smith, Suzanne Paschall, Rob Macguire

Develop a way to maximize rich media content for graphical content, audio and video elements in e-books.

Tech Venture Challenge is sponsored by the Industry Liaison Office, Innovation Place and Deloitte. It is open to any member of the U of S community, including employees, faculty researchers, alumni, or students.