RBC Innovation Awards Winners

Blog- 11th Annual RBC Innovation Awards

This year marked our 11th annual RBC Innovation awards, celebrating 11 years of great Innovations across Northwestern Ontario.

Each year the awards seem to get bigger and better! This year we had over 35 nominations in 5 different categories: Innovation Hero, Young Innovator, Innovative Project, Innovative Company, and Innovation Advisor.

This past year, the Innovation Centre opened its doors to a Kenora office, allowing us to better serve the region, and leading to this year’s Innovation Awards theme - Celebrating the Best of Innovation in Northwestern Ontario. A sold-out crowd of 160-plus helped us showcase innovators from our region, different landmarks from throughout the Northwest, and highlighted a product from one of the many different communities within: Dryden, Sioux Lookout, Nipigon, Wabigoon, Kenora, Fort Frances, Atikokan, and many more!

There is no place quite like Northwestern Ontario and this was our way to celebrate that and let people know the great things happening here! This year’s nominee list seem to anticipate our awards theme with many being represented. In fact, three of the award winner recipients were from the region.

Of course, these awards are not possible without our great partners and sponsors who believe in supporting entrepreneurs in the North as much as we do. A BIG thank you to RBC, the Thunder Bay CEDC and Entrepreneur Centre, Confederation College, Lakehead University Economic Development and Innovation Office, Northern Ontario Angels, Cheadles LLP, and Digital Engineering!

This year’s award winners were:

The 2019 Winners are:

Innovative Company of the Year
FSET Inc. is an Information Technology and Service provider offering a wide range of IT solutions. Based out of Kenora Ontario, FSET specializes in progressive technology based solutions within the public sector including Law Enforcement and Healthcare. The company now has the first and only fully hosted solution to allow Canadian law enforcement to bring their office to their mobile screen.

dsc00781David and Nicole Brown are presented the award from Ryan Moore with CEDC

Young Innovator of the Year:  
Brian Kaden Kanakakeesic
Brian Kaden is a self-taught blacksmith working out of Sioux Lookout forging specialty knives right in his own garage. At the age of 16, Kaden took it upon himself to learn knife geometry and the trade. Kaden often utilizes spare parts and scrap materials to make his creations – including making his own tools, such as his knife grinder. He now sells custom-made knives using a variety of steels.   

Marvin Detweiler Advisor of the Year:

Kevin Kalyta 
Kevin holds years of experiences starting and scaling business in the food and hospitality sector. In the past year, Kevin has come in and graciously volunteered his time coaching and mentoring several Innovation Centre’s clients. He has been an incredible wealth of knowledge for entrepreneurs and staff – who have also been learning from Kevin’s financial acumen.

Innovation Hero of the Year: 
Taras Manzie, President & CEO of Lake of The Woods Brewing Company. 
Taras has built a business on “putting people and employees first.” Ever since the beginning in 2013, when Lake of the Woods started a Charity Pints program, they have been community minded. They have been leaders in Northwestern Ontario by being the first business in their community to eliminate plastic straws; they use team-building events to plant trees; and they offer free staff meals. Lake of the Woods has grown exponentially since its beginnings, has built a business that now employs over 125 people and has a community development record second to none.

dsc00872Bill Maloney from Lakhead University - EDI presents the award to Taras Manzie

Innovative Project of the Year: 

Spring Drain - TBT Engineering
TBT Engineering was approached by CP Rail to provide an innovative solution to a problem that was occurring as trains traveled over areas where the track was laid on peat bogs. The product they created, called ‘Spring Drain’ is an engineered perforated, reinforced flexible pipe filled with crushed rock. This system provides a significant reduction in ground water pressure and increases the stability of the railway. To date TBT Engineering has treated 7 peat boils and installed approximately 450 ‘Spring Drain(s).’
Rosa Carlino from Cheadles presents the award to Gord Mak
2019 Winners: From Left to Right:
Kevin Kalyta, Kaden Kanakakaeesic, David Brown, Nicole Brown,Taras Manzie and Gord Maki.

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