Ontario Water News

Six Entrepreneurs Advance in Women in Cleantech Challenge

Six women have been selected to compete in the finals for a $1-million grand prize in the Women in Cleantech Challenge, a national competition which is jointly supported by MaRS and Natural Resources Canada.

Four of the women competing for title of Canada’s most promising female cleantech entrepreneur have direct applications to water:

  • Evelyn Allen (Ontario) has developed a manufacturing platform for producing large-area nanofilms, which are ultra-thin layers made of graphene and other advanced materials. These films can be used in a wide range of applications, including water purification, energy storage, corrosion prevention, sensing, and smart packaging. Allen’s process is more energy-efficient and less costly than existing nanofilm manufacturing techniques. Allen will also be speaking as part of the “Ideas to Action” session at Water Innovation in Action.
  • Julie Angus (British Columbia) has developed automated boats that will transform oceanographic research, marine transportation, oil and gas exploration, and defence. The boats will carry environmental sensors, cameras and communication devices that will allow them to make oceanographic observations, act as communication gateways for sub-sea sensors, and more.
  • Nivatha Balendra (Quebec) has developed a sustainable way of remediating oil contamination, such as spills or tailing ponds, using biodegradable lipids produced by a specific strain of bacteria. The lipids are capable of breaking down hydrocarbons in a sustainable manner, unlike conventional approaches that rely on chemical detergents that are harmful to the environment.
  • Amanda Hall (Alberta) has developed an improved method of lithium-ion resource extraction from brine water. The approach has the potential to create an inexpensive and sustainable source of lithium for batteries used in electric vehicles and mobile devices, which are fast-growing, multibillion-dollar markets.

The six finalists in the Women in Cleantech Challenge were selected at a live pitch competition at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto in September by a panel of five judges that included author Margaret Atwood, who is a prominent advocate for the advancement of women, as well as experts in clean technology, STEM, business and environmental issues.

The finalists will now participate in an intensive 30-month business accelerator program before competing for the $1-million prize to invest in their business.

Each of the winners will receive support including:

  • Business incubator support (valued at $300,000) from MaRS;
  • The opportunity to work with federal labs to develop their technology (up to $250,000 in value);
  • An annual $115,000 stipend for living and travel expenses for the two-and-a-half-year duration of the challenge.

The Women in Cleantech Challenge is jointly supported by MaRS and Natural Resources Canada. It received 150 applications from across Canada. Ten semi-finalists were invited to pitch their ideas before a live audience of more than 400 attendees.

The Challenge is the first of five challenges under Natural Resources Canada’s Cleantech Impact program, a $75-million initiative to introduce the use of prize challenges aimed at greater impacts from cleantech investments.