The Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition has been an opportunity for student and community entrepreneurs to pitch innovative start-ups for the last 10 years. Attracting a diverse group of students and members of the Kingston community across a wide range of backgrounds and expertise, the competition provides over 510 participants with the chance to take their ideas to the next level, with prizes and grants totaling $100,00.

The final competition, which will be held virtually on Thursday, Aug. 19 and is hosted by the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQIC), brings together 15 teams. Participants have seven minutes to pitch their business to judges, followed by a six-minute question-and-answer session. The finalists have already been through multiple rounds of competition, beginning with the application process, through to the qualifying pitches. Successful competitors have received professional coaching and feedback through practice pitches with DDQIC’s Global Network.

“DDQIC builds change-makers by catalyzing their potential for creative problem-solving, and equipping them with translational skills that allow them to solve problems in the real world,” says Jim McLellan, Academic Director of DDQIC and professor of Chemical Engineering. “DDQIC’s mission is to develop the entrepreneurial mindset of participants through experiential learning opportunities like the pitch competition. The early stage start-ups in the competition may go on to be successful, but the real investment is being made in the competitors who will walk away with increased confidence and skills from pitching their own innovative solutions to problems, answering difficult questions, and building relationships with experienced professionals who can help them on their journey.”

The Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative provides emerging entrepreneurs with a space to develop their ideas and skills. Experienced professionals from a range of commercial and social sectors, many of whom are Queen’s alumni, volunteer to mentor students in the program.

The 15 teams competing this year come from DDQIC’s year-round programming (QyourVenture), the Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative for early stage entrepreneurs, as well as recent regional and global initiatives. Six teams pitching health-focused start-ups are part of the Build2Scale Health program launched by DDQIC as part of the regional Health Innovation Kingston (HI YGK) project, anchored by the City of Kingston with regional partners. One team is supported by the Queen’s WE-CAN project empowering female entrepreneurs in the Kingston region.

Several teams competing are from the Jim Leech Mastercard Fellowship Foundation Program on Entrepreneurship for African students and recent graduates, launched this year by DDQIC. This program brings together entrepreneurs from many countries in Africa with regional entrepreneurs from Queen’s and the Kingston region.

“The Summer Pitch Competition, like all of DDQIC’s programs, supports start-ups that are based in or affiliated with the Kingston community,” says Greg Bavington, Executive Director and Special Advisor to the Provost, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “It is important to DDQIC to support the Kingston regional entrepreneurship community because of the positive impacts that entrepreneurs have on their communities, whether it be economic through local startup growth and job creation, or social and environmental, through the various problems and needs that entrepreneurs tend to address. Our programs provide important opportunities for Queen’s students, staff, and faculty, to interact and collaborate with citizens in the region. We are excited this year to have expanded our programming to add a focus on health innovation, and to be supporting the growth of young African entrepreneurs in their respective communities, while bringing together shared entrepreneurial experiences, anchored from Queen’s and Kingston.”

Bavington adds that the 2021 competition was a particularly special year, not only because it is the 10th anniversary, but also due to the recent recognition of Queen’s as an Entrepreneurial University by the Deshpande Symposium on Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Higher Education.

The competition is a closed event, but the ceremony announcing the winners will be hosted online from 4-6 pm. During this time, guests will have the chance to visit the teams booths to learn more about the start-ups. Tickets are free, and to RSVP guests must go to the Hop In event and click ‘join event’.

Award winners for the 2021 Dunin-Deshpande Summer Pitch Competition

Seed Funding:
Smart Biomedical - $30,000
Neuractas - $20,000
Remote Optometry - $20,000
Hya Bioplastics - $10,000
HemPad South Africa - $10,000
Altery - $5,000
Afiya Beauty - $5,000

BmDodo Branding Package Prize:
Smart Biomedical - $10,000 in-kind branding strategy services
Remote Optometry - (Honourable mention – brand consulting meeting)
Afiya Beauty - (Honourable mention – brand consulting meeting)
Kawallet - (Honourable mention – brand consulting meeting)

This article originally appeared in the Queen's Gazette. Go to original article.