The organizers of the second annual InnovateNB Awards, which will be presented at a celebratory event in Fredericton Oct. 12, have announced their finalists.
The list includes contenders across nine different categories, ranging from Diversity and Inclusion Champion to Productivity Improvement by Adapting Technology. The awards will be part of a full day of activities, including a range of industry workshops.
Some companies, like Fredericton agtech startup Picketa Systems and building materials-maker PLAEX are finalists in multiple categories.
Tickets are available here, with the awards ceremony slated to be held at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.
Here’s a look at the finalists:
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION CHAMPION
Professor of Economics, University of New Brunswick/New Brunswick Multicultural Council
Passaris has served on the Economic Council of Canada, chaired the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission and advised UNESCO, or the The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. He is also the founding president emeritus of the New Brunswick Multicultural Council, a professor of economics at the University of New Brunswick and affiliated with institutions like the Onassis Foundation and the Prentice Institute for Global Population and Economy.
Owuor is an anti-racism advocate and founder of the non-profit Uzima Network, as well as director of organizational development at Cohesia, which aims to foster social cohesion across Canada. She is also on the board of directors for Black Mental Health Canada. Her work uses data to help inform policy analysis.
Jenna’s Nut-Free Dessertery
White is the CEO of Jenna's Nut-Free Dessertery, which caters to people with allergies. She is also an Activator at Coralus (formally known as SheEO), where she collaborates with a global community of women and non-binary people to promote social equity and environmental sustainability.
ECONOMIC IMPACT THROUGH INNOVATION
SmartSkin Technologies, led by CTO Kumaran Thillainadarajah and CEO Evan Justason, uses industrial internet-of-things technology to improve the efficiency of production lines in the bottling industry
The brainchild of CEO Natasha Dhayagude and COO David Brown, Chinova “upcycles” castoff mushroom stems collected from farmers into a range of natural, white label food ingredients, including its flagship offering, which is a preservative called Chiber.
JEDI (Joint Economic Development Initiative)
JEDI is an Indigenous business development organization that offers First Nations entrepreneurs a range of services, including training, pitch competitions and access to an e-commerce marketplace.
Kennedy is the co-founder of Symbodi, the Fredericton startup best known for its Vertiball product — a portable tool that can be attached to most walls and used to massage the user’s back to ease muscle pain.
Richard is co-founder and chief operating officer of Saltwinds, which is an environmentally-friendly coffee company based in Fredericton.
Rankin is fintech business lead at Fredericton startup Profitual, which uses artificial intelligence to automate some aspects of financial analysis. She helps startups simplify the financial modelling process and communicate their potential to investors.
INNOVATION IN ACADEMIA AND RESEARCH
Yassine Bouslimani and Sid Ahmed Selouani
Université de Moncton
Bouslimani is a professor at the Université de Moncton specializing in industrial robotics, machine vision, the internet-of-things and smart homes. He heads up the university’s Laboratoire de Robotique, Électronique et Industrie 4.0.
Selouani is also a professor, but with a focus on information management. He specializes in human-system interactions, language, artificial intelligence and technologies for people with special needs.
Julia Woodhall-Melnik and Dr. Tobin LeBlanc Hayley
HOME-RL (University of New Brunswick)
Led by PhDs Julia Woodhall-Melnik and Tobin LeBlanc Haley, the Housing, Mobilization, Engagement and Resiliency Lab, or HOME-RL, is a social science laboratory on the UNB Saint John campus. Its efforts are focused on reducing housing and health inequities in Atlantic Canada.
UNB Faculty of Computer Science/Research Institute in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence
Cook is an associate professor and the interim director of UNB’s Research Institute in Data Science. His work focuses on natural language processing and computational linguistics, as well as applying those techniques to the field of lexicography — the study of words, their role in language and how they evolve.
ShiftFlow Innovation & Design
Scott is the CEO of ShiftFlow, a Fredericton-based industry group that provides services like accelerators and assistance with strategic planning to young companies.
J. Herbert Smith Centre, with special recognition to Energia Ventures
Located at the University of New Brunswick’s faculty of engineering, the J. Herbert Smith Centre for Technology Management and Entrepreneurship provides a range of accelerator and incubator programs for startups, as well as entrepreneurship training and degree programs.
Howe, CEO and co-founder of Mariner, has spent three decades championing innovation in the field of information technology, first as chief technical officer for Bell Aliant and then backing high-tech companies at Mariner, which has business interests in fields ranging from angel investing to cleantech.
MOST INNOVATIVE PRODUCT OR SERVICE
PLAEX Building Systems
PLAEX, founded by CEO Dustin Bowers, produces sustainable construction materials made from recycled waste that has been formed into specially shaped, interlocking blocks.
Picketa’s LENS platform, which stands for Leaf Evaluated-Nutrient System, is a hardware and software suite that allows agricultural professionals to perform plant tissue analysis in real-time via an optical sensor and cloud-computing system.
Four Eyes Financial
Four Eyes makes regulatory compliance software for wealth managers, including via its Intelligent Compliance Platform, which simplifies audits by digitizing communication records.
MOST INNOVATIVE STARTUP
PLAEX Building Systems
Gray Wolf Analytics
Gray Wolf Analytics provides threat intelligence for cryptocurrency-related security and forensics works. The company offers both blockchain analysis technology and advisory services and has worked on major cybercrime investigations for clients like the city of Fredericton.
PUBLIC SECTOR AWARD FOR INNOVATION
Université de Moncton
Dupuis-Blanchard is a researcher in the field of aging at the Université de Moncton, where she holds the Research Chair in Aging and directs the Centre on Aging. She holds a PhD in nursing and her research focuses on home support for seniors, age-friendly communities, and aging in official language minority communities.
Loch Lomond Villa
Donovan is senior executive officer at Loch Lomond Villa, a senior-care facility in Saint John, New Brunswick. Loch Lomond itself is the world’s largest Planetree Designated continuing care organization — an international patient care certification.
Safety First Collaborators
The Safety First Collaborators are a quartet of pro-social NGOs in Saint John, including the Teen Resource Centre, the SJ Learning Exchange, HOME-RL (mentioned above) and Housing Alternatives Inc.
PRODUCTIVITY IMPROVEMENT BY ADAPTING TECHNOLOGY
Based in Notre Dame, New Brunswick, Sparta specializes in upgrading aging recycling systems and recently launched its new Olympus Accelerated Ballistic Separator at WasteExpo 2023, which is a machine for sorting recycling faster than existing market options.
Toner Outdoor Signs
Toner is the largest highway billboard company in New Brunswick, with more than 200 locations across major highways.
Imperial Manufacturing Group
Based in Richibucto, New Brunswick, Imperial Group is one of the largest North American makers of HVAC — climate control — equipment and building materials. The company also has interests in air filtration systems, automotive service centres and commercial real estate.