A startup bio-technology company that has found an innovative way to boost the quality of production in various industries, from paint and textile to winemaking and water filtration, has taken the top prize in an annual competition for entrepreneurs.
A panel of judges were tasked with choosing the venture with the highest potential for commercial success and judged each team on their ability to take their venture to market and scale. The winner receives the $25,000 Aird & Berlis StartupSource Market Entry Award, including $12,500 cash and an equal amount in legal services from Aird & Berlis StartupSource legal services.
BIOSA Technologies was founded by Nicholas Ledra, who grew up in Markham and came from five generations of entrepreneurs. While creating a business was initially far from his mind, he eventually realized it was a natural calling for him.
Ledra’s company has found a way to optimize enzymes. Different industries use various types of enzymes, including food, beverage and pharmaceutical companies, but enzymes have limited shelf life and need to be frozen in order to be kept longer and then thawed. While many enzymes fail to survive this expensive process, BIOSA Technologies uses a technology which stabilizes the enzymes, resulting in a shelf life lasting more than one year and no requirement of freezing.
Since 2016, BIOSA Technologies has had successful experimental trials and collaboration with industrial and educational partners where their technology was used to extend the shelf life and efficacy of modified enzymes.
The Aird & Berlis StartupSource Market Entry Award was created by the Toronto legal firm in 2017, along with Partner Randy Williamson, who is a York University alumnus and a member of York University’s Board of Governors. He previously chaired York’s Pension Fund Board and the Endowment and Treasury Funds’ Investment Committee, along with chairing the York University Alumni Board.
Williamson is being honoured with Innovation York’s inaugural Partner of the Year Award which recognizes the outstanding contributions of an individual or organization to Innovation York and the growth of innovation at the university.
“We worked with York University to create the Aird & Berlis StartupSource Market Entry Award precisely to acknowledge companies like BIOSA, and York`s support for entrepreneurs like Nicholas Ledra,” said Williamson. “Nick and his team at BIOSA are ready to make a significant mark in their industry, and we’re delighted that the cash award and our ongoing legal support will help them do it. York University has been a wonderful partner to work with these last three years and I’m honoured to receive Innovation York’s first Partner of the Year award on behalf of my colleagues at Aird & Berlis LLP.”
Innovation York’s LaunchYU supports entrepreneurs at different stages of growth. Since it was started in late 2014, it has supported more than 250 ventures and hundreds of entrepreneurs. LaunchYU ventures have raised more than $12.5 million in funding and have generated more than $3 million in revenue.
LaunchYU’s Accelerator program is designed to help high-potential entrepreneurs build, launch, and scale their for-profit and non-profit ventures. The Accelerator training program is four months focused on product-market fit, pitching, go-to-market strategy, financing and fundraising. The entrepreneurs participate in bootcamps, workshops and InFounders Mastermind sessions with feedback from investors.
“BIOSA Technologies was chosen as the winner of this award because of its solid market traction and the high number of possible applications related to enzyme stabilization is massive,” said York University’s interim vice-president of research & innovation, Rui Wang. “It is gratifying to see entrepreneurs taking Innovation York’s LaunchYU program, testing their ideas out and working to take them to market.”
The other two finalists in this year’s competition were Ayd Cares and SUKU Vitamins.
Ayd Cares helps more Canadians live independently with dignity and respect. This company offers in-home seniors care to those on the wait lists of retirement homes. Their unique platform allows retirement homes to serve a larger market and support seniors in need.
SUKU Vitamins is a health and wellness company offering an innovative line of supplements. Their company strives to innovate and provide the best products in terms of quality, efficacy and safety, which includes sugar-free, alcohol free, and plant-based vitamins.
This year’s competition was judged by a four-member panel including: Snita Balsara, investor with MaRS IAF and StandUp Ventures; Trevor Coleman, co-founder of InteraXon / Muse; Sunny Verma, founder of TutorBright; and Sharon Vinderine, founder & CEO of Parent Tested Parent Approved.