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The Forge Student Startup Competition awards 9 McMaster Engineering startupsApril 1, 2020

On March 30, winners of the annual Forge Student Startup Competition were announced. Of the 12 finalists, 9 McMaster Engineering startups received prizes, 4 took home top prizes.

The event was originally set to take place on April 2, but organizers acted quickly amid the COVID-19 crisis and held the competition virtually.

Finalists pitched online to a judging panel that included Wayne Purboo, SVP Strategy at New Relic Inc.; Nav Kaur, Digital Strategy Innovation & Partnerships Team Lead, Canadian Tire Financial Services; Elaine Kunda, Founder, Managing Partner at Disruption Ventures; David Zeleny, Manager, Bravado, Universal Music Group; and Mike Thompson, Associate Dean, Graduate Studies, Faculty of Engineering.

Each finalist pitched for two minutes followed by a 13-minute question and answer period with the judges.

"Although I had missed the nerve-racking and exhilarating feeling of being on stage, The Forge had done an incredible job of organizing and implementing the virtual competition," said Lianna Genovese, iBioMed & mechanical engineering student and second place winner for her startup, ImaginAble Solutions.    

Lianna's startup specializes in creating assistive devices for people living with accessibility challenges. Her company started as a first year iBioMed project

"I had received excellent feedback from the judges and had made connections that will help ImaginAble Solutions grow," she added. 

All the finalists received a guaranteed spot in the Forge’s Summer Startup Academy, an opportunity to bring their business ideas together with experienced entrepreneurs and business professionals.

"Winning [the award] means that we can continue to focus on commercializing and furthering our technology without having to worry about financial restrictions," said Andrew Singh, chemical engineering PhD student and winner of the Engineering SummerTech Entrepreneur Fellowship. 

Singh developed Pharmasonica, a medical device that uses ultrasound to trigger drug release resulting in improved treatment efficacy, reduced side-effects and visits to a specialist.

"McMaster has provided me with an environment that fosters innovation and commercialization, which really made me comfortable giving this a shot."

The Forge is a business incubator for the Hamilton Region and McMaster University that works hands-on with early-stage entrepreneurs to help them build successful startups. 

Here are the winners from the Faculty of Engineering:

Dawson Lucier and Danny Visekruna
Grand Prize Winner of $15,000
Programs: Lucier is a Kinesiology graduate and Visekruna is a Computer Science graduate          
Startup: PULSE Lifesaving is a training solution for business managers of remotely located industries and distributed workforces who struggle with delivering government-mandated first aid training to their employees. PULSE Lifesaving delivers training remotely using augmented reality headsets making it a convenient, economical and efficient solution. 

Andrew Singh
Engineering SummerTech Entrepreneur Fellowship Winner of $15,000
Program: Chemical Engineering PhD student
Startup: Pharmasonica is a medical device that uses ultrasound to trigger drug release resulting in improved treatment efficacy, reduced side-effects, and reduced visits to a specialist. Pharmasonica provides clinicians with enhanced control over a patient’s treatment while providing patients with a significantly higher standard of care.

Lianna Genovese  
Second Place Winner of $11,000
Program: iBioMed & Mechanical Engineering undergraduate
Startup: ImaginAble Solutions is a biomedical engineering company specialized in creating assistive devices for people living with accessibility issues. The company’s first product, Guided Hands, is an assistive device designed to help people experiencing limited hand mobility in writing, painting, drawing and using a tablet/computer. Guided Hands improves their mobility and quality of life.

Will Douglas, Akil Hamilton and Stefan Janovjak
Third Place Winner of $9,000

Programs: Douglas, Health Sciences undergraduate; Akil Hamilton, Software Engineering & iBioMed undergraduate and Janovjak, Compter Science and iBioMed undergraduate
Startup: CheckUp! aims to provide post-secondary institutions with a tailored mobile application to improve the health and wellness habits of their student bodies. In addition to providing a suite of customizable functionalities that promote healthy habits, the platform can be integrated into university resources (e.g appointment scheduling, information) to help students access the resources they need.

Finalist Awards $5,000

Shreyas Gangwani   
Program: Mechanical Engineering and Management undergraduate
Startup: National Design League is a recruitment platform highlighting skills that traditional hiring fails to disclose; problem-solving, creative thinking and communication. The process results in a better candidate fit, while making hiring more efficient and cost effective for recruiters. The platform gives an opportunity to learn new skills, apply knowledge, work on real-world problems and build your portfolio.

Michael Jobity
Program: Engineering Physics & Management undergraduate
Startup: 2unify is the world's first hands-free robotic guitar tuning stand, tuning any 6-string guitar in under 20 seconds with an accuracy of 2 cents. Musicians are now able to have a trusted sidekick that can accurately tune their guitars for them and lower the stresses associated with performing or practicing. 2unify will also target music stores as a retail sales channel to reach a larger target audience.

Arthur Chen
Program: Computational Science and Engineering, PhD student
Startup: Hummer uses a combination of artificial intelligence and intelligent agent-based modeling to provide a platform-as-a-service to help business and government leaders make better decisions, particularly when data is scarce and there is high uncertainty in the environment. Initial target market is the financial sector, wherein Hummer is actively working with banks and hedge funds to simulate the stock market to manage risk.

Karan Sabharwal
Program: Computer Engineering undergraduate
Startup: Remember2Love is a digital assistant for older adults with symptoms of dementia. Providing visual cues for recognizing loved ones, recalling memories, and tracking daily life, it prolongs autonomy, relieves anxiety and sustains social ties. By providing vitals monitoring and video receipts, the doctor and family are assured of medical/dietary adherence and patient safety in their independence.

Rohan Barooah        
Program: Mechanical Engineering alumnus
Startup: AIYogi is an AI-based yoga trainer for individuals with motor disabilities as well as healthy yoga practitioners. Real-time motion tracking of guided yoga exercises is performed with a phone’s camera, and the virtual trainer provides instant feedback for posture correction. The app allows users to benefit from yoga’s healing properties in the comfort of their own home while maintaining a flexible schedule, without the need for an expensive personal trainer.