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Meet The Startups Competing For Big Money From NBIF

Christel Seeberger, founder of Sensory Friendly Solutions. Image: Kelly Lawson/ Submitted

FREDERICTON– The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation (NBIF) has announced the finalists for its  2018-2019 Breakthru entrepreneurship competition.

The five teams chosen will compete for Grand Prize, Second Place and the CBC Viewers Choice awards, with prizes ranging from cash investments by the NBIF and ONB to professional services from contributing sponsors like Deloitte, Cox & Palmer, Symplicity Designs, Momentum, Bonfire Communications and Amy Parrill. The finalists will vie for the prizes at the Breakthru LIVE Awards Dinner later this month.

“The teams that have made it this far in the competition have been successful in proving that they are solving real problems and demonstrating customer traction for their ideas through Letters of Intent,” said Daniel Hoyles, an investment analyst at the NBIF, in a release. “[Awards dinner attendees] can look forward to five promising ideas that have the opportunity to make a real impact on their industries and on our lives.”

NBIF  received 36 business plan submissions by the initial deadline in November. After two ‘entrepreneurship bootcamps’ that offered teams advice, mentoring and support from successful founders and operators of local and national businesses, the submissions were cut down to 10 in February and again to the five finalists earlier this month.

The finalist are:

Better Than Reality:
Virtual reality training platform for nuclear facilities and utility operators. Team members are Daniel Kane, Esther Sangodoyin, and Harpreet Kohli.

Canum Nanomaterials Inc.:
Nanomaterial manufacturing tech that produces fullerenes, which are often used in the skin-care industry for their anti-oxidant and anti-aging properties. Team members are Kyle Woods, Alex Clarkin, Francois Michaud, Jayson Brown, and Felipe Chibante.

Punch Reviews:
Web application that helps farmers capture food safety compliance and maintenance records more efficiently. Entrepreneur Ross Culberson is behind this venture.

R I D D L:
Cloud-based software that provides investment foundations with the information and data needed to make the right investment decisions. Team members are Jenelle Sobey, Vanessa Paesani, and Jess Peters.

Sensory Friendly Solutions:
Mobile app that allows people with sensory sensitivities to find, share and rate sensory friendly spaces, courtesy of entrepreneur Christel Seeberger.

Each team will have the opportunity to pitch to a selection panel of judges on March 14, and winners will be announced a week later at the awards dinner at the Fredericton Convention Centre.

For many of the finalists, the Breakthru competition is their first foray into competitive entrepreneurship.

“I’d say the biggest thing we’ve learned is how strong the support network is in New Brunswick when it comes to starting a business,” said Kyle Woods of Canum Nanomaterials, in a release. “All of our advisors and mentors have had a tremendous impact on us, and working with them has been a real game changer.”