After months of dedicated preparation, countless business pitches delivered, and entrepreneurial energy abounding, the McGill Dobson Cup 2017 has come to a close, awarding a total of $106,000 in seed funding to the top startups that competed this year.
With representation among applicants from every school and faculty at McGill, the McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship received 136 business plans across the four tracks: Social Enterprise, Health Sciences, Small & Medium Enterprise, and Innovation Driven Enterprise. From there, 121 teams advanced to pitch during the Semi-Finals in February, of which 40 made it to the Finals last month.
Claiming the top spot in the Health Sciences Track was Saccade Analytics, led by its president and scientific director Dr. Henrietta (Mimi) Galiana, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and pioneer in model-based analysis for eye and head coordination. Saccade Analytics provides neural disease diagnostic solutions in the form of automated software that analyses eye and head movements. The health metrics generated from these studies help doctors to diagnose diseases and to evaluate the progression of recovery more efficiently.
Of her experience in the McGill Dobson Cup, Saccade Analytics Chief Operating Officer Isabel Galiana says, “[It] was truly fantastic. The support of the McGill Dobson Centre team and the judges’ input have forced us to make tremendous strides forward.”
Within the Small & Medium Enterprise Track, Myco-Rise from the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences took the podium for their efforts to transform organic sources of post-consumer and agricultural waste into nutritional and delicious gourmet mushrooms. Myco-Rise also took home the Food and Agribusiness Convergent Innovation Prize. Awarded by the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences and the McGill Centre for the Convergence of Health and Economics (MCCHE), this prize recognises a venture in the areas of agriculture, food and agribusiness, which also intertwines technological, social and institutional innovation for economic and social health benefits.
Winning the Social Enterprise Track was Protera Farms, also from the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, which develops insect farming for human consumption and animal feed in West Africa. Aiming to meet the challenge of feeding over two billion people by 2050, Protera Farms provides sustainable insect protein for poultry and fish diet as a substitute to the resource-intensive crops and fish powder that are currently used.
For the Innovation Driven Enterprise Track, the top honour was given to Audible Reality of the Schulich School of Music, which develops revolutionary and disruptive technology to enable the creation of 3D audio for immersive media and spatialized communications.
Regarding innovation at the University, Bryan Martin, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Audible Reality notes, “McGill is a vast, fertile landscape of potential,” and goes on to share that “the McGill Dobson Centre serves as a conduit for these ideas to thrive… participating [in the McGill Dobson Cup] was a great privilege.”
New this year was the L’Oréal-Dobson Startup Award, a $12,000 prize that recognizes innovative, green approaches to future hair and skin applications.
The inaugural L’Oréal-Dobson winner was the Faculty of Engineering’s BG Therapeutics, a biomedical company that uses sol-gel technology to make bioactive borate glass. “We have been working on the technology behind our product for over 4 years,” says William Lepry of BG Therapeutics, “but just in the last few months, the McGill Dobson Cup experience has completely changed the way we view our product.”
With growing support from a network of established judges and mentors, McGill Dobson alumni, and its partners at National Bank, the McGill Dobson Cup has developed into the premiere startup competition of McGill and the Montreal community.
Of this year’s event, Renjie Butalid, Marketing and Operations Advisor for the McGill Dobson Centre, says, “We’re proud of all the startup teams that competed this year. We saw a wide range of innovative ideas, reflecting the diversity and strengths of McGill University. To both the winners and participants, the McGill Dobson Cup is only the beginning. Now the hard, but rewarding work of building your own company begins.”