Curtis Kennedy, centre, won $15,000 at this year's CBMC

Curtis Kennedy, centre, won $15,000 at this year's CBMC

Curtis Kennedy, a mechanical engineering student at the University of New Brunswick, was the winner at the sixth annual Canada's Business Model Competition this weekend.

Kennedy took home $15,000 for Vertiball, a wall-mounted roller ball for back-pain relief. His design has a suction cup so users can mount the ball to any height on a wall and roll out hard-to-reach muscle knots. He’s going to use the newly acquired funds to grow his team.

“Right now I’m very limited on how fast I can bring the company to market,” said Kennedy in an interview after his win.  “I’m really excited about having the opportunity to create a consumer product company, so the first step in that is building a team and the template necessary to do it on a consistent basis.”

Kennedy took UNB’s Technology, Management and Entrepreneurship course in his first year. The TME program helps engineers become familiar with the fundamentals of starting a business so they can take their inventions, like the Vertiball, to market.

“It got me so excited to become a part of the entrepreneurship in New Brunswick, it all started from UNB and doing things like this,” said Kennedy, who secured a spot at the International Business Model Competition in Utah this May. The win comes two months after Vertiball was a co-winner at the Apex  Business Plan Competition in Fredericton, where it won $5,000.

UNB's win in the CBMC was part of a successful weekend for the Fredericton university in Halifax. Its teams also won the Canadian edition of the Venture Capital Investment Competition at St. Mary's University, and won the AUS Basketball Championships. 

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The CBMC is put on through Dalhousie University’s Norman Newman Centre for Entrepreneurship. Organizers said the event this year had the most applications to date, with over 90 submissions from 19 universities across Canada. 

“That’s the highest we’ve ever had,” said organizer Ehsan Lavasani. “In 2013, when we started, we only accepted 12 applications and this year we accepted 35 teams.”

Lavasani, who was a finalist in last year’s CBMC, said the organizers made changes to the criteria and also looked at the traction the companies were gaining to help determine the winners.

Lavasani assured all the finalists that whether or not they took home prize money, the CBMC is mostly about bringing the community together.

“Although it’s a competition it’s also a great platform to connect with people,” said Lavasani. “I encouraged all the students to make connections to move forward with their projects.”

The other finalists who presented on Saturday were:

Monetta Tech: This team from Queen's University won the $10,000 second-place prize for its AI system that can record and store notes from meetings via voice recognition technology.

1Mentor: Took the third-place prize worth $5,000. This company built an online platform for students in Latin America to find job opportunities and internships worldwide.

Giraffe: A team from the University of Waterloo developed a platform for companies to meet diversity requirements by connecting them with employees with disabilities.

Farmers Online: With a goal to reduce food waste for Nigerian farmers, Farmers Online would organize the chaos of real-life markets online.

SheLeads: SheLeads provides intelligence assessments through a web-based game to help girls realize their capacity for leadership roles.

Artistocrat: This team created a social platform, paired with a monthly magazine, to help promote and showcase artists’ work.