March 12, 2018, Victoria, BC
Innovators Win $15,000 prizes at the Smart South Island Innovation Challenge
A smart bike power pack, a smart way to waste less food, and a smart accessible overdose kit won the Smart South Island Open Innovation Challenge, Sunday March 11 at UVic. Each of the three ideas received a $15,000 cash prize to help the inventors advance their innovation.
10 finalists were chosen from 69 submissions for this free public competition, and the winners were selected by a combination of a live audience vote and a panel of expert judges who assessed and questioned the presenters about their strategy, sustainability, practicality and the accessibility of their project to the community, as well as how their plan creates innovation within the Smart South Island key priority areas of Transportation and Mobility, Housing and Affordability, Human Health, Environmental Heath, and Economic Resilience and Inclusion.
“It’s been a wild ride, and I’ve learned so much,” says UVic engineering student Simon Park, whose innovation is a battery-powered bicycle technology. The Caboost (caboose + boost) is a small electric bicycle trailer that can adapt any bicycle to provide electric drive assistance.
Park came up with the idea about a year ago after learning the cost of electric bikes made them inaccessible for some. “I’ve always liked tinkering and working with my hands, so I started experimenting on a more affordable way to provide a semi-autonomous bike. The Innovation Challenge was a wonderful opportunity. I learned a lot more about the business side of my concept and made some great connections.”
Park says his $15,000 will go towards intellectual property acquisition and product development. He plans the first beta release of Caboost for testing and design tweaks as soon as possible.
Matthew Kemshaw’s winning project is a technology to support Harvesting Abundance in the Urban Orchard, a program whose goal is to harvest and maintain productive fruit trees in urban areas. Kemshaw is the Executive Director of LifeCycles Project Society, and says his aim is to “reconnect people to the food they eat, changing relationships with place and food to create a healthier society. We have a clear idea of what we want to achieve, and the Innovation Challenge has helped us communicate our ideas more effectively.”
Kemshaw will use his cash prize to develop the gleaming hub technology that will power his innovation. His team is designing a web portal to connect homeowners, volunteers and staff for effective collaboration on urban orchard harvesting. “Phase 1 is in process, and we will run beta testing through this coming harvest season to refine the technology, so it can apply to other similar organizations across Canada.”
Nal-Pal is the nickname of the third winning innovation presented at the Challenge on Sunday. It is the idea of Derek Jacoby’s team, who conceived the idea after a training session on the drug naloxone. “It’s a comparably small idea, and a simple app,” he says. “The level of innovation is more social and answering need than it is technical.”
Naloxone Pal connects people who possess overdose kits, with those who need them. “The idea is to establish a network of people who can help in the case of overdose. The Innovation Challenge galvanised us to go out and look for partners on this project, and we are lucky enough to work with IBM on developing the technology.”
With the $15,000 Jacoby’s team received, he says “we can accelerate the development of the app. We’re in the design phase and we should have the beta to our testing partner, AIDS Vancouver Island, by early summer. We’re incredibly excited. We’re going to be able to make a big impact, and get there quickly, because of the support we received today.”
“We were overwhelmed by the quality of the submissions. Choosing 10 from the 69 was no small task, and coming up with a top 3 was extremely difficult,” says SIPP CEO Emilie de Rosenroll. “We have already been getting tremendous feedback from participants that this challenge has made a huge difference for catalyzing their ideas – even for those who didn’t win the cash prizes. The value of going through a fun, challenging and stimulating process like this is hard to quantify.”
The public event at UVic was presented by Island Savings, a division of First West.
The Innovation Challenge is an initiative of the South Island Prosperity Project (SIPP), the Economic Development Agency for South Vancouver Island.
SIPP is leading the Smart South Island project, a region-wide collaboration of stakeholders and local governments whose aim is to create smart solutions for economic growth challenges and opportunities.
Projects like the Open Innovation Challenge are part of the framework SIPP is structuring for a national competition among municipalities for $10 million in Federal funding through the Canadian Smart Cities competition.
More details of the ongoing project here: www.smartsouthisland.ca.
Bruce Williams, Director of Engagement, South Island Prosperity Project