SFU start-up wins third place in global sustainability competition
By Pauline Leoncio
The SFU student founders of technology start-up Novion have won third place in the global Enzen Hackathon after competing against more than 650 companies. The three-phase hackathon sought solutions for tackling worldwide energy, water and environmental challenges
Novion grew out of the Tech e@SFU program, where Devpreet Bhullar, who graduates this month from mechatronic systems engineering, mechatronic alumnus Refayet Siam, and John Nguyen, who is graduating from SFU’s Beedie School of Business, teamed up to develop an intelligent water-monitoring system. The system informs managers and tenants of their water usage, and improves cost-efficiency, life-cycle planning and asset protection.
While completing their studies, the team members qualified for the Tech e@SFU team eCoop.
Each semester the eCoop program awards a stipend to a Tech e@SFU team, allowing team members to work on their start-up full-time while remaining on track to complete their degree. Acceptance into the eCoop program also granted Novion incubation and office space at SFU’s early-stage incubator, Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection, where today the team remains as a part-time client.
Driven by a strong mission and an optimistic outlook, Novion braved new waters to participate in the international competition. The almost-year-long hackathon began with team members submitting an online prototype and report, followed by an in-person pitch in Bangalore, India and then a final presentation to water sustainability professionals in London, U.K.
“While we are developing water-management solutions for B.C., our plan is to learn about the different ways we can make a global impact on managing water use in the far future,” says Nguyen. “Attending the hackathon helped us expand our network of global connections and better understand the magnitude of water-related challenges around the world.”
Novion’s third place win earned its members a $2,000 cash prize. As well, the team developed a formal partnership with Enzen, a technology firm operating in the energy and water sector. In this new partnership, Novion will share its expertise in data analytics, internet of things, and facilities management while Enzen will share its global expertise and connections. Together, the two companies plan to tackle one of the world’s largest environmental challenges—water sustainability.