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Four student-led social enterprises win $20,000 each in Ontario Centres of Excellence competition

March 27, 2013

TORONTO - Four companies leading the next generation of social enterprises were each awarded $20,000 in Ontario Centres of Excellence’s (OCE) Social Enterprise Student Competition on Thursday, March 21.

“We saw some terrific ideas come forward during this competition,” said Dr. Tom Corr, president and CEO of OCE. “Not only are they great business proposals, they are products and services that will make a positive difference in people’s lives. We’re proud to be able to help these companies get to the next level.”

Formed by current students and recent graduates of Ontario universities and colleges, the companies will use their prize money to help their business grow and develop.
The 10 finalists were selected from more than 40 entries and represent a wide range of socially-innovative enterprises.

Short-listed by an internal review panel based on the content of a short video submission, the finalists were paired with an OCE business mentor and an advisor from MaRS Discovery District to create a business plan and develop a three-minute pitch which was presented to a judging panel on Thursday.

This is the second year for the competition. Last year, in a slightly different format, University of Toronto Civil Engineering PhD candidate Heather Wray took the top prize of $25,000 for her business Rooftop Gardens Inc.

About the winners

EP Organics
Emily Peat, University of Waterloo
EcoPlace Organics supports local certified organic farms by improving local food distribution networks. The business was created by 21-year-old Emily Peat from London, Ontario, a 4th year civil engineering student at the University of Waterloo. EcoPlace Organics is building a grocery store on wheels to sell local organic foods to a niche market of young families.

Pueblo Science
Alon Eisenstein, University of Toronto
With: Calvin Cheng, Nari Kim, Neta Raz
Pueblo Science aims to provide school-aged children in Toronto with high-quality, hands-on science and leadership learning extracurricular activities, such as after-school clubs and camps, provided to all children regardless of their parents’ financial capabilities.

Twenty One Toys
Shelley Vaisberg, University of Toronto
With: Ilana Ben-Ari, Gonzalo Riva
Twenty One Toys creates toys and workshops that bring 21st-century skills and thinking into the classroom, the boardroom and wherever else change needs a hand. We are creating a new category of toys that teach such skills as creativity, collaborative learning, innovation and problem solving. We also develop and deliver workshops to immerse groups in the lessons of our toys.

Waterloo Banking Project
Helena Hua Cao, University of Waterloo/Wilfrid Laurier University
With: Ryan Chen-Wing, Sally Lee, Vinson Fong, Jerry Liu
The Waterloo Banking Project is creating the first student-focused financial services in Canada to help university students graduate with more money, less debt and better financial skills. With support from universities and institutional partners, our trained student staff will provide retail banking services, budget planning and financial education.

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About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc.

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research across key market sectors to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario's global competitiveness. In doing this, OCE fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario's industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, investors and governments. A champion of leading-edge technologies, best practices and research, Ontario Centres of Excellence invests in sectors such as advanced health, digital media and information communications, advanced manufacturing and materials, and cleantech including energy, environment and water. OCE is a key partner in delivering Ontario's Innovation Agenda as a member of the province's Ontario Network of Excellence (ONE). Funded by the Government of Ontario, the ONE is made up of regional and sector-focused organizations and helps Ontario-based entrepreneurs rapidly grow their company and create jobs.

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For further information, please contact:

Stuart Green
Manager, Media Relations
Ontario Centres of Excellence
416-861-1092 ext. 1022
stuart.green@oce-ontario.org