It was a highly successful evening of pitches, networking, and a new award announcement for Innovation York’s entrepreneurship unit, LaunchYU on Sept. 19.
The LaunchYU Graduation and Launch Day was a culmination of an intensive four month program, AccelerateUP, which is offered as a part of LaunchYU, and provides support to budding entrepreneurs as they build, launch, and scale their venture. Aimed at celebrating graduating entrepreneurs, the event showcased 13 venture pitches to an encouraging network of fellow graduates, investors, mentors, and university officials.
Attendees of the event were welcomed by York University President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda Lenton; Vice-President of Research and Innovation Robert Haché; and Innovation York Director Sarah Howe. Each spoke about the growth and innovation of entrepreneurship at York University. The event also featured an inspiring keynote presentation by serial entrepreneur, Sean Neville, founder & CEO of Britnell Ventures.
During the event, Innovation York announced three venture winners of a $5,000 cash award to: CellFace, a company that develops 3D cell culture technology; ?KPI Ninja, a cloud-based healthcare analytics firm; and Lyofresh Technologies, a company that has developed new freeze drying technology. These winners will continue to receive mentorship in the fall and a final winner will be selected in January to win the new Aird & Berlis StartupSource Market Entry Award.
This new award, spearheaded by York University alumni and Aird & Berlis partner, Randy Williamson, will award the top startup with $12,500 and provide an equal amount of Aird & Berlis’s StartupSource legal services. Williamson and Aird & Berlis have generously committed to provide a total value of $100,000 over the next four years through this new award.
“The Aird & Berlis StartupSource Market Entry Award will have a huge impact on LaunchYU startup ventures, enabling them to reach the market faster,” said Innovation York Director Sarah Howe. “The partnership with Aird & Berlis will also have a positive impact on the LaunchYU program, allowing us to support our ventures in an increasingly comprehensive manner, and attract even more high quality entrepreneurs and ventures to the program in the future. It is a huge stepping stone for growth for us and we could not be more excited.”
The success of the LaunchYU program is clear. The program has supported more than 1,850 entrepreneurs and 90 ventures. The ventures supported by LaunchYU have raised more than $2 million in external funding.
This year, the AccelerateUP program received 87 venture applications and successfully graduated 17 ventures providing $30,000 in cash awards throughout the year. Through partnerships with ventureLAB and YEDInstitute, participants of the program attended 24 workshops, were provided with one-on-one mentorship services, and had access to a number of helpful resources such as collaborative working space. From custom colour cosmetics, to an online platform that helps seniors find appropriate care options, to a not-for-profit organization that is addressing the issues of workplace bullying; the ideas have been diverse but the level of passion and commitment have been the same.
“Every year we run the AccelerateUP program, I am blown away by the courage and passion of these young entrepreneurs as they work against the odds to make their venture a success,” said Nilay Goyal, LaunchYU entrepreneurship manager.
The LaunchYU Graduation and Launch Day truly showcased the success of the program, the growth of its entrepreneurs and the promise of its future success.
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