Pitch competition celebrates a decade of innovation and entrepreneurship

Pitch competition celebrates a decade of innovation and entrepreneurship

The Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre invites startups to join the competition with up to $100,000 prize pool. 

By Mitchell Fox

August 15, 2022


DDQIC participant makes a presentation on stage in Mitchell Hall
This year's Summer Pitch Competition, hosted by the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC), will be held Thursday, Aug. 18 at Mitchell Hall. (Queen's University)

For the past decade, the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC) has been bringing together emerging entrepreneurs to develop their skills, innovate, and share solutions to modern-day challenges.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the QICSI, this year’s Summer Pitch Competition will be returning to a hybrid format after two years of virtual pitching. With 15 for-profit teams from Kingston, the Queen’s community, and Africa participating, the event will feature the largest slate of competitors to date.

Entrepreneurial teams spent the summer tackling a problem, creating and validating solutions, and building a business venture. Participants will have seven minutes to pitch their business to judges, followed by a six-minute question-and-answer session.

Judges with entrepreneurship experience will assess presentations and business ideas to determine which teams will earn a share of the seed funding and prizes. In addition to the judges’ evaluation, participants will also be partaking in the Wisdom of the Market Award poll, which awards extra seed funding to the team with the most votes.

“I want to congratulate this year’s entrepreneurs for their hard work throughout the summer, regardless of the outcome of the pitch competition,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre. “We’re thrilled to be returning to an in-person competition, re-establishing the program’s embeddedness in the Kingston community. Watching the ventures’ performance this summer reminds us of the impact of collaboration and what it truly means to be part of an entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

This year’s teams include startups participating in the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI), Build2Scale Health (B2S), Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellows, and regional ventures. The event will wrap up with an awards announcement where the top ventures will find out who will be awarded prizes from a pool of up to $100,000, including a grand prize of around $30,000 in seed funding.

Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship

Among the participants for the Jim Leech Mastercard Foundation Fellowship on Entrepreneurship are eight finalists who will be pitching virtually from across Africa. The nine-month program helps fellows develop entrepreneurial skills and encourages them to develop the drive to make a social or financial impact.

Build2Scale Health

Build2Scale Health is an accelerator program for entrepreneurs who are responding to unmet needs by developing and delivering new health policies, systems, products and technologies, and services in the health sector. In previous years, the program has led to creative solutions that improve accessibility and quality of care.

Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative

Each year, the Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative selects ambitious individuals with a demonstrated interest in entrepreneurship, innovation, or social impact. Participants gain access to resources and mentorship which provide an environment where ideas can grow into successful startups.

List of Finalists

Pocket Clinic
Founders: Amir Hossein Omidvar, Atena Amanati, and Golnaz Morovati
Pocket Clinic is a smart injection system for insulin-dependent diabetics that is controlled with a smartphone to solve under- and overdosing. The smart injection system adheres to the skin and provides automatic microinjections of insulin as needed by the user.

Foot Truck
Founders: Maria Pieroni and Amanda Pieroni
Foot Truck is a mobile clinic for people who lack transportation and/or have some kind of mobility impairment, allowing them to receive foot care assistance at home.

Arke News
Founders: Abigail Kingswood (Comm‘19), Divya Makkar (MSC‘19)
Arke News is a news aggregator that measures the holistic bias present in the news that users read through their platform, having access to a real-time bias profile personalized to each user's news consumption.

Founders: Alieu Jallow (MMIE’22), Matthew Sordo (MMIE’22), Alex Crawford (ArtSci’22)
InvestA offers an investment portfolio management dashboard tool for Venture Capitalists and Angels. The dashboard allows investors to easily track key metrics of startups.

CO2L Tech
Founders: Tu Nguyen Anh Tran-Ly, and Cao-Thang Dinh
CO2L Tech offers a direct solution for carbon dioxide elimination by making devices to convert carbon dioxide into formic acid and derivatives, which are widely used in feedstock antimicrobials and other industries, using readily abundant solar energy and seawater.

Founders: Adam Steven Clark, Vinicius Porfirio Purgato Robinson Grant (BSC’25), Fabio Ynoe de Moraes
Verus is an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software where hospitals (and potentially other businesses) can automate their processes of billing and registering patients, minimizing the number of human errors, and increasing the overall productivity of doctors and staff.

Armistice Biotherapeutics
Founders: Andrew Lingard (MD ‘19)
Armistice is developing DIPLOMAT, a cell therapy which has been designed to drive tolerance to transplanted tissues. DIPLOMAT cells are modified to appear as if they are undergoing “programmed cell death” or apoptosis, a strongly immunosuppressive state.

Strictly Diabetic
Founders: Fadzai Muramba, Dr. Life Zambezi, and Wadzanai Muramba
Strictly Diabetic helps type 2 diabetics manage their blood sugar levels at a minimal cost to prevent diabetic-related complications in the future. Their services include an online community platform and a 28-day program.

DMB Translation Services Ltd
Founders: Joan Bayega, Namaganda Maggie, Murindanyi Sudi, Mugarura Allan
DMB Translation Services Ltd is a social enterprise working to inspire inclusive societies by creating affordable and modern assistive technologies for persons with disabilities. A sign language translation mobile and web application that translates sign language to speech and text — and vice versa.

Founders: Precious Isola, Isola Tolu, and Sonibare Kayode
The platform enables students to take tests on certificate examinations past questions and get well-detailed answers. We present the solutions in an understandable, conversational, and interactive way with the aid of diagrams and animations to drive home the point. 

Founders: Emmanuel Williams, Naomi Etoni Dango, and Samuel Chinonso Archibong
CampusBuy is an e-commerce venture focused on offering the broadest range of general students’ goods and services on a single platform at the best rates in Nigeria. Students earn, invest, learn, and work while they shop on their platform.

Canva Soap
Founders: Prince Archimedes and Muhoozi Gift
Canva Soap makes both liquid and bar soap for people who have difficulty accessing health products and are victims of the negative impacts of poor health. 

Kwela Brews
Founder: Reitumetse Kholumo
Kwela Brews helps homebrewers of traditional African beer produce their product efficiently and safely by providing a low-cost brewing machine and safe and affordable brewing ingredients for their brewing needs. 

Tawi Health
Founders: Victor Kenneth, Arthur Kennedy, Brenda Nyaringiita, and Dr. Andronick Chebsy
Taxi Health aims to increase equitable and inclusive access to healthcare services in Africa. They provide a software tool to people living with non-communicable diseases to allow them to connect with doctors remotely.

Founders: Ewaoluwa Olasoji, Catherine Olasoji, Seun Denagan, and Amara Udeorji
Lotanna is an Afrocentric fashion company that aims to provide timely solutions to the clothing style needs of professional working women and female business executives. Their clothing is made solely from the diversity of handmade African prints produced across Africa.

The DDQIC originally began as a pilot program launched by the Smith School of Business and the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science under the name Queen's Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI) in 2012. After a successful inaugural running of the initiative, the Queen’s Innovation Connector  (QIC) was created as a new unit at the university to advance entrepreneurship. In 2016 QIC was renamed the DDQIC following a significant gift from the Dunin Foundation and the Deshpande Foundation.

The event will be held in the Mitchell Hall Atrium at Queen’s University beginning at 2 pm on Thursday, Aug. 18 and will also be live streamed through Zoom.

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