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Medical tech startup takes home top SFU entrepreneurship competition award
By Joelle Lee
ODEN Health Solutions Inc. has been named Top Venture in SFU’s 11th annual Coast Capital Venture Prize competition, taking home a $30K prize package. ODEN is a medical device company committed to providing life-saving assistance for everyone regardless of social or economic situation or geographical location. Its inaugural product in development is a self-contained wearable device that is capable of monitoring vital signs of users, detecting opioid overdoses, and notifying emergency services of the overdose in order for the user to receive life-saving treatment.
Founder & CEO Alex McGovern developed the idea for ODEN while completing his degree in Biomedical Engineering at SFU, and received support to develop the concept through key programs within the Charles Chang Institute for Entrepreneurship, including Mentor Meet, eCoop and ongoing support through the Coast Capital Venture Connection incubator program.
"Winning the 2022 Coast Capital Venture Prize is a big step in ODEN’s journey towards commercialization. This win provides recognition and validation of all the hard work our team has been putting in, as well as confirmation that the problem we are solving is not only important to us, but important to the whole community,” says McGovern. “The prize dollars and services will allow us to invest in further growth, attract investment, and help us prepare our product for release, adding to the momentum ODEN has already accomplished and help us to achieve our goal of healthcare equality.”
Venture Connection Mentor-in-Residence Doug Fast has been coaching ODEN since 2020. On Alex’s abilities as an entrepreneur, Fast offers, “Entrepreneurship can be somewhat of a mystery for engineers who are more accustomed to wrestling with the laws of physics than mapping the needs, wants, and desires of customers, but Alex has taken it all in stride and kept on learning and advancing. I believe he’s poised to make a significant difference in the lives of individuals suffering from substance use disorder.”
The Venture Prize competition is structured to engage a diverse group of competitors and this year was no exception. Ventures ranged from sustainable fashion accessories to window-washing robots with applications from mixed teams of students, staff, alumni and faculty founders, representing all eight of SFU’s faculties.
Reflecting the different stages of early entrepreneurship at SFU, Venture Prize applicants are sorted into two streams - Idea and Venture. Idea Stream is open to early idea and concept teams while Venture Stream is for startups with traction, up to $500K in revenue and/or $1M investment. Competitors in both streams are offered workshops, mentoring opportunities and pitch over multiple rounds to industry jurors, competing for over $75K in cash and in-kind prizes.
Two teams tied for the Top Idea Prize this year.
Fingerprint Electric Bicycles, a startup launched by Invention to Innovation (i2I) graduate Anthony King, received a top Idea Prize for its next-generation electronic bicycle innovation. Fingerprint’s e-bikes will produce zero emissions, be sustainably manufactured, and easy to balance at low or high-speeds.
One Iota Performance Inc. is founded by a team out of SFU Athletics, including SFU’s Head Coach, Men and Women’s Golf, as well as an alumnus from the School of Communication and an undergraduate in SFU Engineering Science. Matthew Steinbach, Ryan Stolys, and Kim Senecal took home a top Idea Prize for their performance software that helps golf players to track and uncover insights to improve their performance.
Since 2008, Coast Capital has been a key partner for Venture Connection, fostering entrepreneurship and innovation at SFU, and is the title sponsor for this annual competition.
“Coast Capital has invested in this partnership with Simon Fraser University since 2008 because it aligns with our purpose of “Building Better Futures Together,” says Derek Turner, senior vice president, business banking, for Coast Capital Savings. “We want to help Canadians unlock financial opportunity through access to the education, experience and mentoring they need to realize their full potential, especially in ways that positively impact people and communities.”
“SFU and its partner Coast Capital have consistently invested in early-stage incubation, realizing that programs like this are unsung heroes of the regional and national ecosystems,” adds Elicia Maine, Special Advisor on Innovation to SFU’s Vice-President, Research and International and the VanDusen Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at SFU’s Beedie School of Business.
“SFU Innovates is proud to be a platinum sponsor of Coast Capital Venture Prize. Venture Prize represents and supports the whole spectrum of entrepreneurship, innovation and changemaking that happens at SFU across all disciplines. Venture Connection plays a pivotal role in the thriving SFU Innovates ecosystem, bridging curricular and extra-curricular entrepreneurship and innovation programs, and collaborating with the many players required to unleash innovation at SFU, including 4D Labs, VentureLabs, SFU Library and more.”
The awards were announced April 12, 2022 at an online ceremony with more than 100 attendees, and with presenters and speakers representing partners and supporters from SFU’s communities; welcoming remarks were delivered by SFU President and Vice-Chancellor Joy Johnson.
WINNERS OF THE VENTURE PRIZE AWARDS ARE:
Top Venture Prize: ODEN Health Solutions Inc.
Top Idea Prize [TIE]: Fingerprint Electric Bicycles and One Iota Performance Inc.
Local to Global Category Prize: Tires 2 Go
Digital Platform Category Prize: AdvisorFlow
Research & Development Category Prize: NANOSentinel Technologies Corp.
Diversity Award: MeaningfulWork
Social Impact Award: Viridis Research
SFU Alumni Founder Award: Brandon Chapman, Founder & CEO, AdvisorFlow
SFU WIL Award: MeaningfulWork
This story was originally published on SFU News.