Lisa Gieg and Emily Hicks receive the 2014 Nicol Entrepreneurial Award in Ottawa on behalf of Team FREDsense Technologies.
Graduates of the 2013 UBC Genomics Lean LaunchPad Accelerator, FREDsense Technologies, just won their fourth 1st Prize for Entrepreneurship in 2014. This interdisciplinary team has developed a portable sensor to monitor toxins in oilsands tailings ponds.
The team won the national finals of the annual Nicol Entrepreneurial Awards in Ottawa. Universities across the country participate each year, holding competitions at their own university. The winning team from each school then submits a business plan to Ottawa, and among all the entries, the top six schools are then chosen and invited to Ottawa for the national finals. As part of the contest, teams gave a 2.5 minute elevator pitch, a 15 minute pitch on the business concept and took part in a 15 minute question session from the judges.
“I think we won for a number of reasons,” says Emily Hicks, co-chief executive officer. “We had a really strong presentation, which definitely helped us out a lot, and we also have a fairly innovative idea.”
FRED stands for Field-Ready Electrochemical Detectors. The company is primarily targeting the oil and gas sector but there is also potential to change the detection of toxins in other industries. The students’ winning streak started with the iGEM (International Genetically Engineered Machine) contest where undergraduate teams from all over the world design and build biological systems and operate them in living cells. The sensor advanced to the finals in 2012 and FREDsense’s business plan won the entrepreneurial division in 2013. In January, FREDSense Technologies won the Best Elevator Pitch at the BMO APEX Business Plan competition in Fredericton and secured a first place prize of $16,000 at the Queen’s Entrepreneurs Competition (QEC) at Queen’s University in Kingston. A few weeks later, the team cashed $15,000 for finishing first at the Energy New Venture Competition hosted by The Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Calgary. The FREDsense team includes graduate students from the University of Calgary Robert Mayall (Chemistry), Iain George (Biological Sciences), Lisa Oberding (Biological Sciences), Maggie Renaud-Young (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology) as well as recent graduate David Lloyd who holds a Masters degree in Soils from UBC. The team is now working on research and development, transforming its prototype into a version ready to test in the field.
“We are now incorporated and looking for early investment,” adds Hicks. The team is set to compete at the 2014 WJF Sustainability Business Competition in Washington DC, and the Alberta Student Venture Plan competition next month.
Link to University of Calgary article https://www.ucalgary.ca/utoday/issue/2014-04-02/student-startup-fredsense-technologies-clinches-its-4th-prize-year.