media release

Five advance to the 2015 Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize finals

February 03, 2015

Jesse Robson,
Marianne Meadahl, University Communications, 778.782.9017;

Five Simon Fraser University student ventures will move on to the final round of the Venture Connection Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize competition on February 11, 1-4 p.m. at SFU’s Segal Graduate School of Business in Vancouver.

This year marks the competition’s biggest to date, with a total value of over $36,000 in cash and in-kind prizes, recognizing exemplary SFU entrepreneurs and their success in growing their companies. The contest, open to all SFU student and recent alumni innovators, attracted nearly 30 entries.

These student entrepreneurs put their best pitch forward at the preliminary “pitch off” held at SFU’s Surrey campus this week. Final pitches on Feb. 11 will include a 10-minute presentation and a 10-minute question-and-answer period before a panel of industry representatives. They will be judged in five categories:  the quality of the concept, milestones met, challenges faced and met, the composition of the team and future plans. The five finalists are:

  • Adrroit Technologies (Mohammad Akhlaghi, Alex Manousiadis and Milad Haji Hassan) connects parking lots to a mobile cloud-based network to create a seamless driver-friendly parking experience through a combination of the IntelliPark and Parkalytics apps.
  • Empower Operations (Dr. Gary Wang, George Cheng and Geoff Groos). The company produces software that enables and accelerates automated design with computationally expensive simulations. Its focus is designers and manufacturers of products spanning all industries that require designs with greater quality, productivity and safety.
  • ORA Scents (Kevin Cruz, Dylan Belvedere, Yili Lou and Bryce Duyvewaardt). A mobile device company that is introducing the ORA, the world’s first app-enabled scent diffuser that allows users to create and control customized home scents in real-time.
  • TerraTap Technologies (D’Arcy Smith, Judy Hamilton, Nahum Silva and Gwen Schwartz). The team created neartuit as an affordable, easy to use content management system for curators to create, publish and manage mobile content and get real-time feedback on visitor patterns and preferences.
  • Tubegether (Rongxin Zhang, Will Liao and Salina Siu). Provides a new way to make events more interactive by allowing the audience to speak freely and empowering event organizers to create more engaging events.

“Coast Capital Savings’ community promise is to help build a richer future for youth in our communities,” says Don Coulter, President and CEO, Coast Capital Savings. “It is through partnerships such as the one that we have forged with Simon Fraser University through the Venture Connection program that help us realize that promise.

“I am always impressed with the ingenuity and innovation that these young entrepreneurs demonstrate. British Columbia’s entrepreneurial spirit is most certainly alive and well. Coast Capital Savings congratulates all of this year’s Venture Connection participants.”

The students are competing for a Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize of $3,000 for first place and $1,500 for second place. A $500 Coast Capital Savings Venture Idea Prize will also be awarded to an idea- or early- concept-phase team that shows great promise in developing an idea and bringing it closer to reality.

A first this year is a series of in-kind prizes sponsored by DeloitteMcCarthy TétraultSkyrocket DigitalLaunch Academy and the Surrey Board of Trade.

The winners of the Coast Capital Savings Venture Prizes, Idea Prize and in-kind prizes will be announced at the public awards ceremony and reception following the final pitches on Feb. 11. The keynote speaker at the event will be Dr. Marayam Saghedi, MetaOptima Technologies CEO and 2014 Coast Capital Savings Venture Prize winner.

Since 2008, Coast Capital Savings has been supporting the SFU Venture Connection program, which provides support for student ventures from initial idea to business validation. It offers an early-stage business incubator, mentorship, co-op terms, competitions, networking, speaker events, workshops, seminars, and other business resources. More than 3,200 students have participated since 2008 in its range of programs, with development services provided to more than 300 student venture teams.

As Canada's engaged university, SFU is defined by its dynamic integration of innovative education, cutting-edge research and far-reaching community engagement. SFU was founded almost 50 years ago with a mission to be a different kind of university—to bring an interdisciplinary approach to learning, embrace bold initiatives, and engage with communities near and far. Today, SFU is a leader amongst Canada's comprehensive research universities and is ranked one of the top universities in the world under 50 years of age. With campuses in British Columbia's three largest cities—Vancouver, Surrey and Burnaby—SFU has eight faculties, delivers almost 150 programs to over 30,000 students, and boasts more than 130,000 alumni in 130 countries around the world.


Simon Fraser University: Engaging Students. Engaging Research. Engaging Communities.

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