Ignite Student Entrepreneur Winner and Final Five


Photo Credit: Jason Chow Photography

Spark Innovation Centre is pleased to announce the Ignite Student Entrepreneur Winner as well as the Young Entrepreneur and General Entrepreneur finalists.

The Student Entrepreneur award is a new category for Ignite this year which celebrated student entrepreneurs currently attending a post-secondary institute in Durham Region.

Congratulations to Turnkey Aquaponics who was selected by the Power Panel as our $5,000 Student Entrepreneur Winner.

Turnkey Aquaponics designs, manufactures and installs scalable aquaponics systems for rural and industrial applications. Aquaponics is a system that combines aquaculture and hydroponics into a controlled symbiotic self-filtering, closed system. Turnkey uses innovative designs that allow for reduced water and energy consumption and year round growing in any environment.

“We are very excited to be the Ignite 2014 Student Entrepreneur Winners. Moving forward we will use the money to further proto-type our designs.” says Michael Veneziano, Co-Founder of Turnkey. “We will continue to explore the market and make contacts working to develop our business. We are extremely grateful for all the support from Spark and the Durham community for helping us grow.”

“Congratulations to UOIT students Turnkey Aquaponics as well as all of the student entrepreneurs who competed in Ignite.” said Steve Rose, Associate Dean, University of Ontario Institute of Technology: Faculty of Business and IT. “On behalf of UOIT, we are very proud of the bright, young leaders emerging from our institution.”

“Ignite is a great opportunity for student entrepreneurs to network with their peers, business leaders and industry professionals,” says Debbie McKee Demczyk, Director, Office of Research Services and Innovation at Durham College. “It provides a great opportunity for them to work toward taking their ideas to the next level. Durham College is looking forward to participating next year and seeing more great ideas from the bright minds of our community.”  

Congratulations also go out to the Ignite Final Five selected by the Power Panel to move onto the next phase.

Young Entrepreneur Finalists:

National Prostaff – National ProStaff (“NPS”), located in Ajax, is a social commerce platform for fishing enthusiasts which connects consumers with brand experts. Fishing brands are able to manage, recruit, and highlight all brand ambassadors in one place while consumers gain a great resource to make smarter buying decisions.

Zambah – Zambah is located in Oshawa and is a free music discovery platform dedicated to exposing and growing the reach of independent music across the world. Zambah has evolved into a functional app that is currently available for Android and PC.

General Entrepreneur Finalists:

Blanclink Inc. – The creators of BlancRide, a mobile app that evolves carpooling into the modern age. Using GPS and smartphone technology, BlancRide matches passengers and drivers based on similar routes. Passengers save time, drivers save money and everyone saves the environment. Blanclink is located in Oshawa.

Prometheus Healthcare* – is an Ajax-based consultancy and solutions company. Their goal is to help architect novel approaches to overcome the complex challenges facing healthcare systems today. They believe that the best solutions will make use of emerging technologies to enrich rather than replace the patient-doctor relationship.

Tiko 3D – Tiko 3D an Oshawa-based company has created an affordable and easy to use 3D printer. By continually reducing the cost and complexity of 3D printers, they hope to empower innovators and young entrepreneurs around the world.

The Final Five will participate in the Boardroom Competition on November 13th at the Whitby Council Chambers which will be the last step in their journey to $25,000. The Boardroom Competition will have all five finalists presenting their company for 20 minutes, followed by a 10 minute Q&A with the Power Panel.

After the Boardroom Competition, the Power Panel will head into deliberations where they will choose one Young Entrepreneur and one General Entrepreneur to win $25,000 each. The two winners will be announced at the Durham Region Art of Transition Creative Awards happening on November 27th at Heydenshore Pavilion in Whitby.

*Due to a technical result, GeoSight Inc., an original finalist has been eliminated from the Ignite competition. We are very pleased to have Prometheus Healthcare take the fifth spot as the next placed company chosen by the Ignite Power Panel. Spark Centre looks forward to working with GeoSight in the near future.

Spark Centre Client Update: New Music Discovery App “Zambah” Announces Public Beta

Spark Centre client, Zambah announced that public beta for their new application has begun. No longer, will the general public have to wait for an invitation because they can now instantly create a Zambah account directly from the main website.

The Zambah platform provides independent artists with the most important tools needed to gain valuable exposure to their musical content, as well as leverage their existing fan base for further expansion. Early beta users will have the opportunity to become contributors to a growing independent music community within the platform. Zambah’s objectives during public beta are to utilize early adopters for guidance during development, collect valuable feedback to improve the platform and target specific thought leaders that can help fuel its growth.

“Public beta is an important milestone for Zambah because we’ll finally be able to start the process of building a community of music lovers that value the creative offerings provided by independent artists.” says Kenneth Asafo, CEO of Zambah, “Our main goal is to be a reliable platform that focuses on the basic essentials needed to promote and expose the independent music scene to a wider audience.”

Zambah’s features are unique because of their minimalistic approach to music sharing and discovery. Their platform focuses on the fundamental needs of an independent musician, which are to seamlessly upload musical content that can be easily discovered by a new listener. Zambah chose to start a public beta stripped of the distractive bells and whistles that their competitors may have, because they believe there is much more value in focusing on and enhancing the user’s experience.

Within 3 easy steps, musicians who participate in Zambah’s beta will be to create an account, upload a song, and provide a song with 3 hashtags. After completing these steps, the listener community on Zambah can easily discover and share the song. The app’s “Discover” feature builds on the idea of making the process of finding new music as efficient as possible for the listener. This is accomplished by utilizing artist submitted hashtags based on genres, moods and feelings that are used to create a random playlist of 30 second song snippets. The listener is able to quickly swipe through songs until they find something they like and with a simple tap of a button, songs can be saved in the “Likes” section for access to the full length song.

About Zambah: Zambah is a free music discovery platform dedicated to exposing and growing the reach of independent music across the world. Starting as an idea by three students with a passion for music, Zambah has now evolved into a functional app that is now available for Android and PC. Founded in October 2013, Zambah is headquartered in Oshawa, Ontario. Visit http://zambah.com for more information.


For further information:
Kenneth Asafo, CEO and Co-Founder, Zambah

Spark Innovation Centre Partners with Durham Art of Transition Creative Awards


Spark Innovation Centre is pleased to announce their partnership with The Regional Municipality of Durham, Planning and Economic Development and Tourism Division to present the Durham Art of Transition Creative Awards (DATCA) on November 27th at the Heydenshore Pavilion in Whitby.

“We are always pleased to partner with Spark Centre on our events in the Region,” says Kerri King, Tourism Manager for Region of Durham.  “It is the perfect fit as both DATCA and Spark Centre work to support a strong creative economy and promote Durham Region’s innovative culture.”

The partnership has brought forth a new category for 2014 – The Lifetime Innovator.  This new award is given to a respected leader in the world of technology and innovation in Durham Region.  This individual has shown success in business, has given significant contributions and has inspired innovation in their community.

“We are honoured to be able to partner to present The Lifetime Innovator Award this year,” says Dennis Croft, Executive Director of Spark Centre.  “Spark Centre works with several innovative business leaders and look to them as our champions and inspiration for innovation in Durham. What a great opportunity to share their stories with the rest of the community.”

The Durham Art of Transition Creative Awards on November 27th will also be where Spark Centre’s 2014 Ignite winners will be announced.  The Ignite competition has been an ongoing program which saw over 60 startup companies pitch their business idea in a series of competitions.  One Young Entrepreneur winner and one General Entrepreneur winner will be awarded $25,000 each to use towards their business.  For more information on the Ignite competition, visit www.ignitedurham.ca

Nominations are open until 4:00pm on October 31.  To submit a nomination, visit the Creative Awards section at www.artoftransition.ca.

For information on the DATCA awards program, eligibility criteria, nominations and the judging process, visit www.artoftransition.ca.