At its annual Open Innovation Gala, Desjardins announced the 16 winners of its 2021 Cooperathon competition, awarding more than $150,000 in prizes and grants.
In September, more than 650 people across Canada registered for the 6th edition of the pan Canadian program with one goal in mind, to leverage collaboration and innovation to make a difference in society. Following four weeks of training and mentorship, eight Open Innovation challenges were presented to address real socio-economic issues faced in society.
60 teams participated in the two-week pitch competition to create solutions relevant to the theme: Lead the change and reboot together.
The difference with this year’s initiative is that it featured a personalized program based on the maturity stage of the entrepreneurial teams and startups with more than 50 tailored training and support activities and over 400 hours of mentoring.
"What makes Cooperathon so special is the way it connects individuals, communities, entrepreneurs and researchers so they can create a socially responsible future together. This platform for creating impact entrepreneurship is that perfect overlap of solidarity, mutual support, and innovation,” said Guy Cormier, President and CEO, Desjardins.
The Grand Prize winners
There were two grand prizes; one for Beta teams who are startups already in development and working on their prototype, and another for Alpha teams who have an idea but are still in the beginning stages without a prototype.
The Beta prize was awarded to Vope meDical who developed an AI-driven software to address the unmet needs for clear vision in minimally invasive surgery. Currently, contamination obstructs the surgical site for 37 per cent of the procedure. With Vope meDical’s solution the lens cleaning process is optimized to reduce the number of cleanings to allow surgeons to stay focused by eliminating distractions.
Announced as the Alpha winner was DeepBlue Greens. While indoor farming has been identified as a solution to tackle food security, it tends to be inefficient. To boost productivity DeepBlue Greens developed Voltaponics™, an innovative plant nutrient delivery system.
Another big winner of the night was Lup who took home the Ontario-Atlantic-West Impact prize. The team developed a waste recovery solution that uses a cloud-based software for tech manufactures to reduce their quotation process with customers.
Open Innovation challenges
Throughout the program, over 50 partners partook in the event to help with recruitment and to provide mentorship and training support. Additionally, the 8 Open Innovation challenges were presented by our partners which awarded a total of $80,000 in grants.
44 startups responded to the challenges which were focused on the environment and climate change, city and regions of the future, and the impact of technologies. Some highlights include:
- Eventboo – a double winner of Hydro-Québec’s prize for reducing the energy footprint and Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence Climate & Zero Waste award
- OXIA Initiative – winner of KPMG’s challenge of measuring greenhouse gases
- myLaminin – winner of Deloitte’s Cybersecurity award
See the complete list of winners on the Cooperathon’s official site.
Desjardins firmly believes in partnership and collaboration as the best tool to develop innovative solutions to our societal challenges. Desjardins would like to congratulate all the participants and thank the organizations who proposed the challenges and shared their expertise throughout the program. To see the complete list of partners, visit this section of the site.