News Release

REF NO.: 48

SUBJECT: Memorial University students win $35,000 in seed funding at business idea competition

DATE: March 29, 2019

Innovative business ideas related to ocean research, technology and health care won the top prizes at the 2019 Mel Woodward Cup (MWC) last night.

Duff: Ocean Resources, UnBound Chemicals and PolyUnity won $10,000 each during the business idea competition for student entrepreneurs. The 2019 MWC was hosted by the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship (MCE) on March 28 at the Emera Innovation Exchange at the Signal Hill Campus of Memorial University.

Duff: Ocean Resources, run by business student Colton Etheridge and biochemistry student Joycelyn Moulton, is commercializing the extraction of chitin, a carbohydrate-based polymer, from the shells of the invasive green crab species. The polymer has a variety of biomedical and biotechnology purposes, including water purification, wound healing and anti bacterial agents.

UnBound Chemicals has developed a process to extract active pharmaceutical ingredients from medications and remarket the chemicals for non-human use and research. The group, which includes master of science in management student Blaine Edwards, bachelor of engineering student Abis Abbas and Gerard Noseworthy of C-Core, targets unused and expired medication from patients and pharmacies, thereby preventing potentially dangerous chemicals from leaking into soil, groundwater and oceans once the medications have been discarded in landfills.

PolyUnity creates and distributes high-quality, validated 3D printed medical simulations. The technology can be purchased through an online database, providing medical professionals with access to the simulations anywhere in the world. The team includes medical students Michael Bartellas, Travis Pickett and Stephen Ryan, as well as Memorial alumni Tahrin Maruf (BBA ’17) and Marc-André Brien (B.Eng. ’12). The group is also behind the award-winning MUN Med 3D, the first biomedical 3D printing facility in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Med 3D Network, the first global network of rural 3D printing biomedical sites.

Two other companies received honourable mention prizes. Prospre (engineering students Jonathan Young and Colin Hunt) won $3,000 and ECHARGES (engineering students Kheya Zaman and Sadman Rhythm, business student Mohammed Nabeel Hamdan and science student Eti-Abbasi Umobong) won $2,000.

The MWC provides up to three prizes of $10,000 each to teams of Memorial University students for their innovative business ideas. Winning teams also receive in-kind prizes related to legal, marketing, tax and professional development services from Genesis, KMPG, Altitude Media, Gardiner Centre, Perfect Day, Cox & Palmer and the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Industries.

Florian Villaumé, director of MCE, says the centre has been working hard over the past year to help students discover and embrace entrepreneurship.

“We’ve had more than 300 students attend at least one of our workshops over the past two semesters, with many of them then approaching us with innovative business ideas,” he said. “We’re very encouraged and excited by the growth that’s apparent in the Memorial University entrepreneurial community.”

Entrepreneurship, he says, offers students a chance to forge their own career paths.

“The Mel Woodward Cup is an opportunity to celebrate innovative business ideas, invest in the most promising ones, and create a pathway for the most entrepreneurial students at Memorial to stay in the province and build their businesses in a great community.”

Forty-three applications were received for the competition, from which eight finalists were selected to present their business ideas to the judges.

The MWC was created from a donation in 2017 by the family of the late Dr. Mel Woodward, a well-known entrepreneur who founded the Woodward Group of Companies. Peter, Melvin and Tana Woodward collectively donated $1.13 million to Memorial’s Faculty of Business Administration, in memory of their father, to support student entrepreneurs through the MCE.

The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency also provided support for the competition and other entrepreneurship-focused initiatives at MCE.

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