New Ventures BC Competition reveals winners of $250k in cash and prizes

TrafficDriven Technologies Inc. has taken the first-place prize in BC's largest annual business technology competition.

The province’s largest business technology competition has revealed its 2021 winners.

Vancouver’s TrafficDriven Technologies Inc. has been announced as the winner of the 2021 New Ventures BC Competition, taking home the $110,000 Innovate BC First Place Prize Package.

Vancouver’s Train Fitness claimed the $60,000 Innovate BC Second Place Prize Package for their wearable workout tracker capable of automatically detecting sets and reps during a strength-based workout. Cleantech startup Moment Energy rounded out the top three and walked away with $35,000 for their energy storage and battery management systems.

TrafficDriven is building an AI-powered auction platform that enables the buying, selling, and trading of cars. Their dealer-fueled online marketplace ensures trust for consumers and allows brick and mortar dealers to compete with digital disruptors.

In August, Vancouver Tech Journal projected a potential TrafficDriven win, noting that while the startup “is tackling a sector ripe for major disruption, their biggest advantage might be the fact that within their ranks, they already have someone who’s won the whole darn competition.” Indeed, this will be the second time TrafficDriven co-founder and COO Mehrsa Raeiszadeh will taste NVBC victory. She won the competition in 2016 as vice president of technology at Microdermics.

In total, over $250,000 in cash and prizes have been awarded in the 2021 competition. The awardees were announced Monday evening (October 4) at a hybrid ceremony that took place at Roundhouse Community Centre in downtown Vancouver. “Every year, the competition showcases our province’s next generation of innovators that are bringing bold and courageous solutions to market,” said Angie Schick, executive director at New Ventures BC. “Whether it’s leveraging AI to connect companies to capital or repurposing EV batteries to enable a circular economy, BC startups are positively changing the way we live, work, and play in a post-pandemic world.”

Specialty prizes spotlight regional and women-led ventures

In addition to the top three prize packages, the competition finalists also competed for four specialty prizes, including two newly added awards. This year’s winners include:

— BinBreeze (Victoria) — $10,000 Innovate BC Regional Start-up Prize
— Rootd (Victoria) — $10,000 Innovate BC Social Venture Prize and $10,000 Innovate BC Woman-Led Venture Award [NEW]
— Sarcomere Dynamics (Abbotsford) — $7,000 Luminaries Diamond-in-the-Rough Award 
— AbCellera, the BC-based biotech giant and 2013 competition finalist, was also recognized as the recipient of the first-ever NVBC Alumni Impact Award.

The prize — which goes to the alumni that has made a significant economic, social, or community-based impact on BC's technology sector — was awarded to the company for its breakthrough R&D work in antibody therapeutics. They developed the first COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment to be authorized in North America and are building a first-of-its-kind GMP manufacturing facility in Mount Pleasant.

“For more than 20 years, this competition has celebrated homegrown innovation and helped shape some of BC’s most successful tech companies,” said Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO at Innovate BC. “It’s so encouraging to see hundreds of local entrepreneurs enter the New Ventures BC Competition every year, showing just how much potential there is in our tech sector.”

Since 2000, the Top 25 competition finalists have gone on to raise over $1 billion in financing and create over 8,600 new jobs. Notable past alumni include Aspect Biosystems, Lumen5 and Jane Software.

”BC entrepreneurs have stepped up to face the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic and deliver the innovative solutions people need,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation. “This year’s winners are creating positive social, environmental and economic change in communities throughout our province and beyond.”