Last Thursday evening in Winnipeg the traveling road show known as Startup Canada Awards made a grand stop in our city for the first time.
This segment of the national awards, described as “the hallmark events celebrating outstanding achievement in Canada’s entrepreneurship and innovation community,” recognized regional innovators and entrepreneurs from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Previously the ceremony was held exclusively in Alberta for prairie recipients. The winners announced in Winnipeg will move on to the National Competition held in Ottawa and scheduled this year for Oct. 19 at Shaw Centre.
The awards recognize accomplishments and achievements in the fast growing and economically diverse areas of entrepreneurship and innovation comprising both early stage and large scale global enterprises.
Main categories represent ‘Advancing the Environment and Culture for Entrepreneurship in Canada’, ‘Entrepreneur-Led Business Demonstrating Excellence’, ‘Exemplifying the Spirit of Canadian Entrepreneurship’ and ‘Outstanding Impact in Canadian Entrepreneurship’.
Each of the main categories was divided into a number of classified awards with 13 individual trophies for each region of the country (nine were awarded for the Prairie Region) and four National Only awards to be presented in Ottawa.
The province of Alberta was well represented at last week’s gala with a number of winners attending from the province as well as those who provided video acceptance speeches. Alberta has produced some exceptional technology driven enterprises as highlighted by just some of the recipients;
Young Entrepreneur of the Year winner, Alex Villeneuve (@alexvilleneuve7), who started his dream by growing mushrooms in his college dorm closet using recycled brewing waste by product.
Women of the Year winner, Kim Orlesky (@kimorlesky), sales coach and speaker with @INBOUND.
Entrepreneur Promotion Award winner, Carey Houston (@CareyHouston), 321 Sales Academy.
Senior Entrepreneur Award 55+, Nancy Knowlton (@NancyKnowlton) and David Martin, of Nureva Education. (Collaborators and creators of Smart Board Technology).
Innovation Award Winner, Tevosol (@tevosol) organ transplant technology which beat out local VR Gurus Bit Space Development (@BitSpaceDevelop) amongst other companies showing an incredible future for innovation potential on the Prairies.
Saskatchewan based Neechie Gear (@NeechieGear) founded by Kendal Netmaker, won for Social Enterprise, “Awarded to a social enterprise exhibiting excellence in its approach to the environment, ethics, community interaction, and corporate social responsibility.”
Manitoba was well represented in a number of categories with Ag technology leader Farmers Edge (@faremers_edge) and Chris Johnson (@TheJohnsonCorp), co-founder of Permission Click accepting the engraved glass trophies for Global Entrepreneurship and Entrepreneur of the Year, respectively, on behalf of the active and growing Manitoba contingent.
Keynote speaker Joshua Simair, co-founder of @skipTheDishes provided passion and encouragement in his remarks supporting business startups in his home province of Saskatchewan and adopted province of Manitoba with a shout out to how vibrant and amazing Winnipeg is right now for entrepreneurs.
Successes and challenges for women in business was highlighted by the BDC representative with the observation, “Many women operate specialized boutique-sized business, and grow them organically.” The federal bank is emphasizing its support for women entrepreneurs.
A highlight of the evening came from local bright light and entrepreneur aficionado, Joelle Foster (@Joellefoster) affectionately called “Startup Mom” in her capacity of regional manager for FuturpreneurMB (@FuturpreneurMB) with encouraging words for small business owners and start-up concept procrastinators who need the push and resources provided by her organization and other incubators locating throughout the West.
Emcee for the evening was local former Blue Bomber and successful restaurateur Obby Khan (@obbykhan60), who handled his duties with aplomb and a flair for self deprecation.
His passionate plea for voices to be raised against federal government tax changes affecting innovators and family small business owners came at a critical time with the Federal Government seemingly committed to its latest attempt at tax reform. Obby implored the crowd to call their MP and the Finance Minister with their personal and national concerns about this proposed tax grab.
Coincidentally, the Startup Canada event in Ottawa will include, as part of the “Day on the Hill” events, the effort to “Contribute YOUR voice to the Government of Canada on creating the best conditions for entrepreneurial success.”
The City of Winnipeg was represented by Councillor Marty Morantz as Mayor Brian Bowman was a late scratch due to other commitments. At least the city was in attendance, but the province of Manitoba was a no-show. This seems counter intuitive for a government promoting Manitoba as an innovation friendly, business and politically supportive climate to invest in.
A full list of the Winners and Nominees can be found @Startup_Canada.