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Creating change and empowering entrepreneurs

Eight entrepreneurial teams took home seed funding in the annual Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition. 

[Queen's DDQIC innovation entrepreneurship pitch competition ClimaCube]
Karina Bland and James Hantho present on behalf of ClimaCube, which took home $30,000 at the pitch competition. (University Communications)

Teams trained all summer to perfect their presentation, prepare their product, and plan their pitch on the big stage. 

The annual Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition is where they found out if their entrepreneurial dreams would become start-up realities, as judges from across the Canadian business community listened to their ideas, asked probing questions, and ultimately decided which teams would be leaving with seed funding to support their business. 

“We had yet another great group of entrepreneurs pitching this year, and regardless of the outcome I want to congratulate them for their hard work,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. “Their success is truly our success as a city, as these start-ups can eventually grow to create jobs, introduce new and important products to market, and spur investment in our community.” 

The teams competing include 15 groups who participated in the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) program over the summer, and a number of community ventures. The QICSI competitors include students from Queen’s, St. Lawrence College, and a number of other universities, and also include the winning team from the Mayor’s Innovation Challenge. 

The competition was held from noon until 6:30 pm at The Isabel Bader Centre for the Performing Arts, and was attended by friends, family, faculty, and other well-wishers. Each team was given just a few minutes to present, and took a number of questions from judges ranging from strategy to product development to financing. 

The winning teams took home a combined $105,000, with ClimaCube taking home the largest portion. James Hantho (Comm'19), speaking on behalf of the team, called the experience "surreal".

"As soon as we heard the news, we were overcome with feelings of joy, shock, and hope for the next stage of journey," he said. "What made the night most special was the support and kindness we felt from the QICSI cohort, the DDQIC team, and everyone else that attended the event. This prize gives us the utmost hope that we can bring our vision to life and to truly make a difference."

Second place was claimed by Emulgreen, which offered an ambitious high-performance emulsifier product that the founders acknowledge may have been difficult for average consumers to wrap their heads around. 

“Receiving $15,000 from the reputable DDQIC Regional Pitch Competition gives EmulGreen a strong standing for establishing future collaborations," says Teodor Lange, one of the cofounders. "We will be able to provide our potential customers with product samples and increase our traction, ultimately contributing to a safer, cleaner, and more efficient chemical industry.”

Results 

ClimaCube - $30,000
This start-up is developing portable cold storage units to extend the quality of products as they are in transit, such as samples or vaccinations. Accepting on behalf of the team was Karina Bland (Sc'18) and James Hantho (Comm'19).

Emulgreen - $15,000
Helping to make the chemistry industry more sustainable, Emulgreen is introducing high-performance emulsifiers based on natural resources that give enhanced emulsion properties. Their current focus lies on cosmetics applications. Delivering the winning pitch was the inventor of the emulsifier and co-founder of the start-up, Joe Glasing, and his business partner Mr. Lange. Mr. Glasing is a PhD candidate in chemical engineering.

InField ID - $10,000
InField ID is using machine learning to develop an app for farmers to easily identify and track invasive species that harm crops in fields. 

Durabyte - $10,000
This team is bringing Queen's research to market by implementing and deploying proprietary flash storage controller technology that will increase the lifespan of flash storage chips for use in big data storage solutions, mitigating the ever-present need for durable data storage.   

Illumirate - $10,000
Illumirate is focused on the development of sustainable oxygen systems to support premature infants born in hospitals in developing countries.

MIR Technologies - $10,000
This start-up has developed a new type of drone which is capable of performing high-altitude work, such as conducting building inspections.

Child Cancer Survivor Canada - $10,000
This not-for-profit aims to support child cancer survivors with awareness, peer support, and access to care to childhood cancer survivors across Canada. 

 

Wisdom of the Market

The DDQIC introduced a new award this year, which allowed the audience to vote for their favourite team and help the judges allocate the funding. In the end, two teams earned the Wisdom of the Market award. 

Thanks to audience support, Firefi Rewards - a company which pitched to change small business loyalty rewards programs with a solution currently being rolled out in Kingston and Prince Edward County - picked up $5,000. Durabyte also added $5,000 to their total for the day.