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Mining venture strikes gold in pitch contest

  • [RockMass team members]
    RockMass Technologies won first prize at the QICSI Venture Pitch Competition on Aug. 18. The company includes Matas Sriubiskis, Matthew Gubasta, Shelby Yee, Nichola Trinh, Boyang Fu and Rigers Rukaj (left to right).
  • OneSpecies team members Elena Routledge and Kenedy Assman make their presentation during the final pitch competition for the Queen's Innovation Connection Summer Initiative (QICSI).
    OneSpecies team members Elena Routledge and Kenedy Assman make their presentation during the final pitch competition for the Queen's Innovation Connection Summer Initiative (QICSI).
  • Nikita Kopotun unveils the Paperweight team's innovative printer during the final pitch competition.
    Nikita Kopotun unveils the Paperweight team's innovative printer during the final pitch competition.
  • [Kerry Readwin with Laura Yu]
    NorthSprout member Kerry Readwin (Com'17), left, explains her product to Laura Yu, Business Development Manager, Academic Entrepreneurship, with Ontario Centres of Excellence.
  • Team members of Amala answer questions from the judges panel regarding their product  – a yoga mat made with algae  –  at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Thursday, Aug. 18.
    Team members of Amala answer questions from the judges panel regarding their product – a yoga mat made with algae – at the Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts on Thursday, Aug. 18.
  • [Jimmy Hamilton with Neil Longhurst]
    Jimmy Hamilton (Artsci'17), left, a member of OneSpecies, speaks with Neil Longhurst (MBA'77), a QICSI mentor.

Months of hard work and long hours have paid off for the six Queen’s University students who co-founded RockMass Technologies.

The company won the Queen’s Innovation Connector Summer Initiative (QICSI) Venture Pitch Competition, beating out seven other teams for the top prize of $30,000 in seed-funding.

RockMass Technologies is working to improve the safety and efficiency of geological mapping in the mining, civil engineering, and exploration industries. According to the company, the device “automatically maps a rock face while the software analyses the data and breaks it down into key information that is used to determine the structural stability of a tunnel, mine shaft and/or rock face.”

The technology is based on research conducted at Queen’s by Professor Joshua Marshall and PhD candidate Marc Gallant. Dr. Marshall and Mr. Gallant patented the technology through PARTEQ and the QICSI students licensed it.

“We are so fortunate to have this great technology to use. It’s really great to be able to commercialize Queen’s research and take it to market,” says Matas Sriubiskis, Chief Executive Officer of RockMass Technologies. 

Mr. Sriubiskis (Artsci’17) and his teammates Shelby Yee (Sc’16), Chief Operating Officer, Matt Gubasta (Artsci’17), Chief Financial Officer, Boyang Fu (Cmp’16), Lead Software Developer, Rigers Rukaj (Sc’17), Chief Technology Officer, and Nichola Trinh (Sc’17), Chief Business Development Officer, were overjoyed to win the pitch competition. While they savoured the moment with friends and the other QICSI participants, they had already started looking ahead.

“This (win) is fantastic, but we have to keep working,” Mr. Sriubiskis says. “We’re heading to clients’ mines and worksites in September, and we are developing new connections with companies. We are also looking at developing different extensions for our technology as well.”

Three other companies received awards following the pitch competition. The judges awarded $20,000 in seed-funding to both NorthSprout – which developed a gel-based germination medium to allow seeds to grow strong and healthy faster and with less water – and Tandem Therapy – a software platform to support the relationship between therapists and their patients. Paperweight Technologies, which is improving the home printing experience, also won $10,000 in seed-funding.  

QICSI, a 17-week paid internship where students collaborate to launch their own ventures, has existed for five years. Greg Bavington, Executive Director of QIC, says the venture pitches keep getting stronger each year.

“Every year we refine the program to better meet the needs of the students,” Mr. Bavington explains. “And as awareness grows of the Summer Initiative, our flagship program, and our other offerings, we continue to attract high-achieving students and direct them to programs that best fit their needs and interests.”

Visit the QIC website to learn more about its programs.