Smart lifejacket startup LifeTrack Safety Systems has won first place in the University of New Brunswick’s MTME: NEXT virtual demo day, in which Master of Technology Management and Entrepreneurship students competed for a $1,500 prize.
LifeTrack is designing a lifejacket and radio communication system that does not inflate until it is submerged in water, making it less awkward to wear. It also broadcasts a distress signal that includes its GPS location.
The Fredericton university’s MTME program, managed under the umbrella of its J. Herbert Smith Centre, offers students specialized training in how to commercialize technological innovation.
“You've persevered in the face of some very difficult circumstances,” UNB’s academic vice-president George MacLean told the students, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic that forced the MTME program to move online. “And I know, having talked to your program leaders, that you've done exceptional work.”
LifeTrack’s management team consists of CEO Amy Andrews, COO Bridget McCloskey, CFO David Itoafa and CTO Gaurav Thakur.
The jacket’s distress signal will be sent 30 seconds after it is exposed to water, and the wearer will be able to cancel it if they are not in danger. Other boats that receive the radio signal will also be able to acknowledge the request for help.
The life jackets will also feature a quick-release system, allowing wearers to remove the jacket if it constricts their movement in a dangerous situation. The team said during its video pitch that the feature is rare in commercial flotation gear.
The company is pursuing a $500,000 funding raise via grants, startup competitions and investment to help take its product to market in 2021. The commercialization process will initially centre on an early adopter program targeting large Atlantic Canadian fishing fleets.
The team plans to release the inflatable life jacket first because the regulatory approval process will be less onerous, with the radio system to follow later.
The federal government plans to mandate that marine workers wear flotation devices, complementing similar laws already in effect in Nova Scotia, Quebec and British Columbia.
In addition to LifeTrack’s $1,500 prize, two teams won $1,000 each as runners-up. They were:
Logan Carr, CEO
Jarvis is creating a hardware and software suite that will use artificial intelligence to make boardroom meetings more convenient, such as with the use of digital whiteboards. The AI will document meeting discussions, offering participants an accurate record of their conversations. The company is attempting to raise $1.3 million, including $550,000 of equity investment.
Parados Cerebral Solutions
Pascal McCarthy, CEO
Parados is developing a mouth guard with sensors that will allow athletes to know whether they have sustained a head injury that is likely to lead to a concussion. Later, they will release a spine-mounted device using similar technology. Over time, an artificial intelligence system will be able to offer insights into the cumulative effects athletes face when they suffer repeated brain injuries.
Six other companies also pitched:
Alexander Debley, CEO
MEPtivity is developing a connector device for pre-cast concrete panels that will allow electrical wiring to be connected to pre-made panels at construction sites. The connectors will be placed in the concrete panels when they are cured at a factory, allowing them to be installed in buildings via a “plug-and-play” process.
Rillwan Shokunbi and Bushra Siraj
MD-Flap is developing digital healthcare software that will allow patients to log their symptoms and pain levels. The platform will offer patients automated advice on how to manage their health, as well as allow them to communicate with their doctors via video, audio and text.
Ajibola Oluwatosin, CEO
Welkom-U is developing a software platform to help new and prospective immigrants navigate issues such as currency exchanges, finding housing and job-hunting. The system will consolidate offerings from other providers, giving immigrants a “one-stop-shop” to help them assimilate.
Samson Okpara, CEO
Pique Analytics is designing a device that will be connected to buildings’ power meters so offering utility companies, cities and other organizations “granular” information about a structure’s electricity usage. A specialized software suite will offer suggestions on how to reduce consumption, and eventually, it will be possible to control smart appliances via the platform.
M. Safwaan Hossain, CEO
PhysicaAll Fitness is a mobile app that builds customized workout plans for users, offers a database of healthy recipes appropriate for different workout regimens, and matches users with personal trainers. The trainers can set their own prices, but payment happens on PhysicAll’s platform to help ensure user retention.