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article imageWomen in CleanTech Challenge selects 10 semifinalists

By Karen Graham     Sep 12, 2018 in Technology
Toronto - After a lengthy summer selection process, the review committee for the Women in Cleantech Challenge has picked 10 inspiring women for the competition’s semifinal round, being held on Sept. 18 at MaRS Discovery District in downtown Toronto.
The women represent diverse ethnicities, ages, provinces and technologies. More importantly, the aspiring cleantech entrepreneurs and innovators will be filling a void in Canada's innovation economy, where right now, women are underrepresented.
Only five percent of Canadian tech companies have a sole woman founder or CEO, and only 13 percent of companies have a woman co-founder.
The top ten
The competition's 10 exceptional innovators must now pitch their ideas in front of a live audience, as well as the jury made up of a prestigious group of five technical experts, all women, who will be joined by Canadian author, poet and inventor Margaret Atwood.
Five women will be chosen to go on to participate in an intensive 30-month company-building program at MaRS, where they will receive support valued at over $800,000. MaRS’ business incubator support is valued at $300,000, while the opportunity to work with federal labs to develop their technologies is valued at $300,000. An annual $115,000 stipend for living and travel expenses will also be provided.
A really tough choice
Competition officials note it was difficult to narrow down 147 applicants to the group of 10 women finally chosen to be semifinalists. After an initial screening, the group was whittled down to 50 applicants by the review committee.
The 50 applicants then went through a second round of screening, diving deeper into each remaining application, consulting with outside experts and conducting secondary research as necessary. And even with this added screening, there were still 33 very qualified applicants.
Each of the top ten competitors represent a big step forward for CleanTech, and each brings a unique idea to the table.
Canada is looking to increase the opportunities for women in cleantech.
Canada is looking to increase the opportunities for women in cleantech.
Karen Graham
Evelyn Allen (Ontario)
Evelyn is working on an additive manufacturing platform for printing large-area nanofilms made of graphene and other 2D “wonder” materials. These films are being used in a number of cleantech applications, like water purification, energy storage, corrosion prevention, sensing, and smart packaging.
Julie Angus (British Columbia)
Julie is leading the development of autonomous energy-harvesting boats that will transform oceanographic research, marine transportation, oil and gas, and defense. The boats will have sensors, cameras, and communication devices that will allow them to do oceanographic observations, act as communication gateways for sub-sea sensors and detect environmental accidents or anomalies that could go unnoticed.
Nasim Arianpoo (British Columbia)
Nasim is building an AI-enabled platform for industry that provides process manufacturers with real-time data monitoring and process failure prediction to reduce waste and fuel consumption while increasing production by a remarkable margin.
Nivatha Balendra (Quebec)
Nivatha is focusing on developing a sustainable way of remediating oil contamination, such as spills or tailing ponds, using biodegradable lipids produced by a specific strain of bacteria. The lipids act as a surfactant capable of breaking down hydrocarbons in a sustainable manner, unlike conventional approaches that rely on chemical detergents that are harmful to the environment.
Bethany Deshpande (New Brunswick)
Bethany is using deep-learning technology to keep cows healthy, reduce waste in the supply chain, and help farmers run more profitable operations. Her methodology uses proprietary sensors and artificial intelligence. The technology can identify disease and other sources of contamination in milk before extraction so that farmers can take preventative measures to reduce the volume of “spoiled” product, ultimately improving farm efficiency.
Amanda Hall (Alberta)
Amanda is developing an economical process for extracting lithium from produced brine waters. Amanda wants to create an inexpensive and sustainable source of green lithium for batteries used in electric vehicles, portable devices, and mobile gadgets, all of which are fast-growing, multibillion-dollar markets.
Sidney Omelon (Quebec)
Sidney is working on a better, more sustainable way to capture phosphorus, an essential non-renewable resource, from municipal wastewater treatment and agriculture operations. By reclaiming phosphorus nutrients from waste, this innovation reduces the need to mine and process phosphate rock to produce phosphorus fertilizer for agriculture.
Gem Shoute (Alberta)
Gem is looking to reduces the consumption of energy and raw materials in research and development and manufacturing using predictive algorithms. She is developing a way to simulate the growth of materials and discover ways to optimize product development and the overall manufacturing of advanced materials essential to many clean technologies.
Alexandra Tavasoli (Ontario)
Alexandra is advancing a GHG-to-fuel technology that converts waste CO2 or methane into syngas using solar energy and novel, nanostructured, light-activated materials known as “photocatalysts.” This could very well be a powerful, energy-efficient way to turn CO2 captured from power plants or the atmosphere into clean chemicals and fuels.
Luna Yu (Ontario)
Luna uses a novel blend of microorganisms to economically convert organic waste into a type of bioplastics called polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA). PHA bioplastics are fully biodegradable in marine and terrestrial environments. A lot of products are made from PHA bioplastics, including packaging films, bags, containers, utensils, and 3D printer filament.
Even though only five women will go on to the final round, all 147 women are sure to go on to do great things.
More about women in cleantech challenge, Mars, Toronto, finalists, Women in tech