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OCE recognizes excellence in entrepreneurship and research collaboration with annual awards

October 28, 2016

AGM brings together over 275 guests from Ontario’s innovation community to celebrate record-breaking year for OCE

From left: Michael Nobrega, Chair of the Board, OCE; Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO, OCE; Erik Lankin, son of Robert Lankin, CEO, ASi; Chekema Prince, co-founder, Pression; The Hon. Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science

Last night, Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) awarded its prestigious Mind to Market and Martin Walmsley awards, worth $25,000 each, recognizing the achievements of two Waterloo-region entrepreneurs for their innovations in battery and hybrid-based vehicles and advanced health technology. The awards were presented as part of OCE’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Design Exchange in Toronto, attended by over 275 guests from Ontario’s innovation community. The Hon. Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science, presented the awards with OCE President and CEO Dr. Tom Corr and OCE Board Chair Michael Nobrega.

The Martin Walmsley Award for Entrepreneurship, which supports the development of an Ontario student to create an innovative start-up with an economic impact in Ontario, went to Chekema Prince, co-founder of Pression. She received the award for a groundbreaking compression therapy for vascular disease treatment and increased muscle performance, developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Accelerated Systems Inc. (ASi) was announced the winner of OCE’s Mind to Market Award for the company’s collaboration with McMaster University. The OCE project developed unique drivetrain features that can be turned into market-leading products for battery and hybrid-based vehicles. The award, which recognizes an outstanding achievement in OCE-supported research collaboration and commercialization, was accepted on CEO Robert Lankin’s behalf by his son, Erik Lankin.

The AGM celebrated another extraordinary year of growth and achievement for OCE with the release of its 2015/16 Annual Report. As noted by Tom Corr in the President’s Report, OCE broke last year’s records in several key performance measurements.

Highlights of 2015/16 include:

  • A significant increase in the number of jobs that were created or retained as a direct result of OCE-funded projects – 6,071 jobs – an 11 per cent increase over last year;
  • A record amount of follow-on investment from angel investors and venture capitalists. At $563 million, it was the highest in OCE history and a 50 per cent increase over last year;
  • A record $165 million of incremental sales by client companies as a direct result of OCE-funded projects – almost four times that of last year;
  • Reduced operating costs for OCE as a percentage of funds deployed, decreasing from 16.6 per cent in fiscal 2010 to 9.5 per cent in fiscal 2016.

“It has been a year of substantial growth and, more importantly, a year that has taken us to a new plateau in terms of the impact we are able to have on Ontario’s innovation system and economy,” said Dr. Tom Corr in his AGM President’s address. “Guided by the strategic vision of our provincial government, OCE finds itself increasingly focused on large-scale programs in sectors where Ontario already has great strength, where the potential for economic impact and global competitiveness is significant, and where the need for solutions is urgent.”  

Of course, one of the best ways to understand OCE’s impact on Ontario innovation is through the creative and high-potential technologies being developed by OCE-supported entrepreneurs, researchers and students. We were proud to have 24 OCE-supported companies showcase at this year’s AGM, including:

  • Analytics 4 Life (A4L), an OCE/IBM/SOSCIP-supported eHealth company using advanced phase signal processing techniques and machine learning for identifying and assessing coronary artery disease.
  • Peekapak, which received funding from the Market Readiness and Voucher for Innovation and Productivity (VIP) programs to help develop its digital platform for teaching social emotional learning concepts to young students.
  • Textbooks for Change, a SmartStart- and Ontario Social Impact Voucher (OSIV)-supported social venture that provides affordable and accessible educational material to students both locally and abroad.
  • Sober Steering, which received Connected Vehicle/Automated Vehicle (CVAV) Program and TalentEdge support to help develop the world’s first and only touch-based alcohol interlock to prevent drunk driving.

The showcase also featured three winners from the fourth edition of Young Entrepreneurs, Make Your Pitch, a competition for Ontario high school students presented by OCE and the Ministry of Economic Development and Growth (MEDG).

For full details on OCE’s achievements in 2015/16, read our Annual Report