../Morning Post
Posted May 26 , 2010
Emerging Entrepreneurs

Waterloo students and graduates sweep Young Entrepreneur Start-up Awards

WATERLOO - Young student entrepreneurs and graduates from the University of Waterloo swept the top awards at Ontario's Next Top Young Entrepreneur Start-Up Pitch Competition. The competition was held recently as part of Discovery 2010, organized by Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.

The pitch competition is organized by the Impact Entrepreneurship Group on behalf of OCE's Centre for Commercialization of Research.

“It is not a coincidence that the winning entrepreneurs are students and graduates of Canada’s most innovative university - the University of Waterloo," said Tim Jackson, associate vice-president (commercialization) and CEO of the Accelerator Centre on the uWaterloo campus. "The entrepreneurial culture at Waterloo has been showcased by these outstanding students."

First prize winner: Avenir Medical, a company that has developed a technology to greatly enhance hip replacement surgery. The heart of Avenir Medical is PelvAssist (trademarked), an intra-operative guidance tool which aids orthopaedic surgeons in the proper placement of the acetabular prosthetic component during Total Hip Arthroplasty.

Avenir's team members are:

* Armen Bakirtzian, bachelor of applied science (B.A.Sc.), honours mechatronics engineering, biomechanics option (with distinction), University of Waterloo. Bakirtzian is a master of health science (M.H.Sc.) candidate in clinical engineering at the University of Toronto.

* Andre Hladio, B.A.Sc., honours mechatronics engineering (with distinction), uWaterloo. Hladio is a master of applied science (M.A.Sc.) candidate in electrical and computer engineering, Systems and Control Group, uWaterloo.

* Richard Fanson, B.A.Sc., mechatronics engineering (with distinction), uWaterloo. Fanson is an M.A.Sc. candidate in electrical engineering, McMaster University.

* Ara Hasserjian, B.A.Sc, honours mechatronics engineering, management sciences option, uWaterloo. Hasserjian is an MBA candidate, Schulich School of Business, York University.

Second prize winner: Glass Telepresence, which offers revolutionary telepresence communications technology that enables life-size, high-definition, face-to-face visual and spoken communication between remote locations. Team Members: Teresa Thomas, master of business, entrepreneurship and technology (MBET), uWaterloo; Gabriel Tomescu, MBET, uWaterloo; David Farr, MBET, uWaterloo.

Third prize winner: TalkMesh, which provides a multi-platform, dedicated application to allow close friends to keep in touch. Team Members: Anton Lopyrev, software engineering student, uWaterloo; Francis Ian Mendiola, software engineering, uWaterloo; Prabhdeep Gill, software engineering, uWaterloo; and Artem Lopyrev, mathematics and business, uWaterloo.

"I'm delighted, but not surprised, by the these results. It is a further indication of the strength of the University of Waterloo student body to recognize opportunities, assess market conditions and build new ventures to capitalize on these creative initiatives," said Howard Armitage, executive director of the Conrad Centre for Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (CBET) on the Waterloo campus. "I'm also pleased with the excellent relationship we have been able to forge with OCE's Centre for Commercialization of Research."

Avenir Medical, which started at uWaterloo, received an $18,000 loan to launch their business venture over the next six months. The second place team was awarded $5,000 of advisory services courtesy of Deloitte Consulting. The third place team will have lunch with Robert Koturbash, managing director of Maple Leaf Angels.

The competition attracted submissions from colleges and universities across the province and was narrowed down to five finalists. The winners were announced and presented their prizes by Colin Anderson, president and CEO, Ontario Power Authority. The pitch competition is organized by the Impact Entrepreneurship Group on behalf of OCE's Centre for Commercialization of Research (CCR).

"The calibre of this year's finalists was outstanding," said Dr. Mario Thomas, who moderated the judging panel. "Avenir Medical's technology has the potential to greatly improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs because it improves the precision of hip replacement surgical techniques. Winning this competition will give these students the much-needed financial support to help take this exciting venture to market."

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc.drives commercialization of cutting-edge research across key market sectors to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario's global competitiveness. OCE is funded by the government of Ontario and is a key partner in delivering Ontario's Innovation Agenda. OCE through its Centre of Commercialization of Research (CCR), an initiative supported by the federal government, also acts as a catalyst which allows innovative business to grow and achieve sustainable, commercial success and global.

The Impact Entrepreneurship Group is Canada's largest non-profit, student-run organization dedicated to encouraging the entrepreneurial spirit amongst youth in Canada and becoming a starting point and catalyst for youth interested in entrepreneurship and leadership. More information is available online at www.impact.org.

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