New Ventures BC 2022: Meet the winners of $250k in cash and prizes

Ovou has taken the first-place prize in the province’s annual business technology competition.

Ovou were crowned champions of the 22nd annual New Ventures BC Competition.

Awards season is in full swing across B.C.’s tech ecosystem. The latest to dish out accolades is New Ventures BC, with Ovou taking home the $110,000 Innovate BC First Place Prize Package in its 2022 competition.

The podium

This year’s winner is a Vancouver-based smart business card outfit. By tapping an Ovou card on any smartphone, users can instantly share a curated professional profile and contact information — furthering networking while reducing paper waste. Ovou bootstrapped its way to profitability, and has seen impressive user adoption, including the U.S. Army Recruiting Operation, Insight Global, and RE/MAX. The platform currently facilitates over 4,000 new connections daily.

“It’s an honour to receive this award at the 2022 New Ventures BC Competition and be recognized for all of our achievements to date,” said founder Reza Varzidehkar. “We are very grateful for all of the guidance and support we’ve received, and look forward to using the winnings to accelerate our next stage of growth.”

If you’re an avid reader of Vancouver Tech Journal, you would have had good reason to believe that Ovou would come out on top. We predicted as much last month: “The company has benefited from the sweat and tears of its founder. From trading cards in his native Iran to car dealerships in Surrey (some of Ovou’s first customers), Varzidehkar has always been hustling.”

Elsewhere on the podium, Vancouver’s Beam Commerce claimed the $60,000 Innovate BC Second Place Prize Package for software that helps boost sales for eCommerce stores. Victoria-based biotech startup VoxCell Bioinnovation rounded out the top three and walked away with $35,000 for its 3D-printed, human-like tissues.

New Ventures BC kept the proceedings hybrid for the 2022 competition, announcing the winners on October 3 both online and in person at UBC Robson Square. “Every year, it’s inspiring to see the innovation and calibre of entrepreneurs take part in the competition,” said Angie Schick, executive director of New Ventures BC. “B.C. startups continue to play an important role in shaping the future of key sectors, from renewable energy to eCommerce and medtech, and we are looking forward to supporting each company in their journey.”

The specialty prizes

In addition to these top three prizes, five additional companies were recognized for their achievements across a range of categories:

  • $10,000 Innovate BC Sustainability Prize: Acel Power, a cleantech manufacturing company providing boat drive systems that use renewable energy.

  • $10,000 Innovate BC Regional Startup Prize: Nyoka, a company creating non-toxic, biodegradable glow sticks, which also appeared in the competition’s top 25.

  • $10,000 Innovate BC Woman-Led Venture Award: Yvette Wu, CEO of Yield Exchange, a B2B SaaS platform helping organizations access competitive Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs).

  • $7,000 Luminaries Diamond-in-the-Rough Award: Immfinity, a biotech company revolutionizing cancer immunotherapy treatments.

  • Alumni Impact Award: Semios, a precision-farming agtech platform helping farmers produce better crops and save money. The award recognizes competition alumni that have made a significant contribution to B.C. tech. Semios participated in the competition in 2011, and has since gone on to make several acquisitions, raise over $225 million in capital, and make major contributions to the local Canadian economy and in job growth.

The big picture

“We are proud to see such an outstanding group of entrepreneurs participate and compete in the New Ventures BC Competition, presented by Innovate BC, year after year,” said Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO of Innovate BC. “B.C. is home to a thriving group of entrepreneurs who continue to break new ground and positively impact the social, environmental, and economic climate in our communities. We’re looking forward to following the continued contributions of these homegrown pioneers.”

Helping B.C.’s tech companies find talent and scale up is key to supporting our fast-evolving economy and creating new opportunities for British Columbians,” said Ravi Kahlon, minister of jobs, economic recovery and innovation. “The New Ventures BC awards are an exciting way to recognize and celebrate the entrepreneurship and innovation that fuel our resilient tech sector.”

Since 2000, the New Ventures BC Competition finalists have gone on to raise over $1 billion in financing and create over 8,600 new jobs. Notable past alumni include MintList, Certn, and UrbanLogiq.

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