Lisa Williams, Founder of Unicare Home Health Care, has been named Startup Canada’s 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year, one of three New Brunswickers to capture national awards from the organization this year.

The umbrella organization for entrepreneurship in Canada held its national Startup Awards gala in Ottawa on Thursday, followed Friday with its Startup Canada Day on the Hill festival at the Parliament buildings. The nominees for the national awards were the regional winners, which had been announced throughout the summer.

It’s the second year in a row that an Atlantic Canadian woman won the organization's Entrepreneur of the Year award. Last year, it went to Anne Whelan,​ ​President​ ​and​ ​CEO of ​Seafair​ ​Capital​ ​Inc. of St. John’s.

Unicare began in 2008 when Williams opened her home-care business, which helps senior citizens who need support but wish to live in their own homes. The company now has operations in Miramichi, the Acadian Peninsula, Bathurst, Campbellton, and Moncton.

“Lisa now employs 200 people, is immersed in her second venture Unicare Solutions and is now beginning her third startup,” said a tweet from Startup Canada on Thursday.

One problem that Williams encountered as she grew her business was that no digital product existed that met the specific needs of her industry. Hiring her own developers, she built a solution to handle administrative functions like payroll and scheduling, as well as an all-important communications function.

Fredericton’s Cameron Ritchie won the Young Entrepreneur Award for his company Homewurk, which offers an online tool that helps students find odd jobs from residents in their community. Homewurk has given hundreds of local students a chance to make some extra income by completing odd jobs.

Ritchie’s LinkedIn page says he is a first-year engineering student at University of New Brunswick.

Fredericton-based Plato Testing won the Social Enterprise Award. Keith McIntosh – the founder and CEO of Fredericton-based PQA Testing, which started Plato – accepted the award. Plato is building a network of Aboriginal software testers in the North and across Canada with the goal of hiring 1,000 Indigenous people.

Startup Canada also presented awards in several other categories and recognized Brett Wilson, a former dragon on CBC’s Dragons' Den show, with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

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