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Who will be the 2014 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award winner?

It’s time for Canadians to vote—9 finalists in the race for BDC Young Entrepreneur Award $100,000 Grand Prize

Montreal, May 29, 2014—Today is the day Canadians can begin casting votes for the 2014 BDC Young Entrepreneur Award contest, organized by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). Voting takes place at www.bdcyoungentrepreneuraward.ca. Nine finalist projects from across the country are competing for the $100,000 Grand Prize and a second prize of $25,000 in consulting services from BDC.

“Canadians nationwide can vote daily to support the finalist they believe deserves to win the $100,000 Grand Prize,” says Michel Bergeron, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Public Affairs at BDC. “Our finalists have proven themselves to be dedicated entrepreneurs. Each has a clear vision and a decisive action plan to capture the opportunity that will propel their business to new heights.  Your votes, Canada, have the power to carry one of these turning-point projects from the drawing board to reality.”

Learn more about each finalist and their project, and view their videos, at the contest’s website. You can vote once a day for the project of your choice, from today until the close of voting on June 12 at noon EST. The winner and the runner up will be announced on June 18.

Meet the finalists

British Columbia

Toni Desrosiers, 34, VictoriaAbeego Designs Inc.
Toni Desrosier’s business, Abeego Designs Inc., has people buzzing about food wrap. The “beeswax wrap that keeps food fresh” has resonated with consumers in search of a reusable, biodegradable and antibacterial alternative to plastic wrap. Word of mouth has put Abeego’s products in over 200 stores. Now it’s time for the next big step. Toni wants to expand into the U.S. with a distribution partner can put Abeego products on the map and give the young brand the exposure it deserves.  But she needs to invest in a new marketing and promotional strategy, and in new equipment to boost her manufacturing capacity. Vote to help Toni swarm the U.S. market and help more people “Abeego it!”


Devin Goss, 29, Calgary—BluPlanet Recycling Inc.
Devin Goss and the team at BluPlanet have created a niche recycling collection business that’s filling the gaps in the City of Calgary’s waste services and diverting an additional 1,250 tonnes of material a year from landfill. BluPlanet’s next big opportunity is with compostable organic waste, such as kitchen scraps, which can be turned into useful products. Devin wants to invest in new trucks, new staff and specialized handling equipment to boost its daily collection capacity for organic waste from 1 to 30 tonnes. Vote to help Devin prevent his city’s waste from going to waste.


Nathan Wilhelm, 30, Estevan—Wilhelm Construction Services Inc.
Nathan Wilhelm’s industrial commercial design-build construction firm is literally laying the foundations for his community’s economic future as Estevan enjoys a resource-fed economic boom. But success comes with a price—new home construction can’t keep up with the flood of new workers coming to the area for jobs that are begging to be filled. Nathan wants to expand his business into off-site constructed housing, a modular rapid-construction process that could shatter this bottleneck. Vote to help Nathan muster the resources and partnerships he needs to launch this new venture and drive Estevan’s economy forward.


Dale Overton, 34, Winnipeg—Overton Environmental Enterprises Inc.
Dale Overton’s hardest workers are his worms. His environmentally friendly composting business has used hard science and those little wigglers to overcome the quality issues that typically hinder high-volume organic compost production. Demand is growing across North America and beyond for his products as alternatives to chemical pesticides and fertilizers. To keep up and capture the opportunities before it, the company wants to build a new 25-acre composting site to double annual production. Vote to help Dale and his team help the rest of us compost our way to a cleaner future.


Shep Ysselstein, 31, Woodstock—Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese
When you’re one of five brothers on the family dairy farm, you either learn to milk cows or you chart a new path. Shep Ysselstein decided to tap into consumers’ desire for locally made products from producers they trust. Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese has quickly grown into an award-winning operation. Its premium, hand-made cheeses are in high demand at fine food shops and grocery chains across the province. Shep needs to double production to keep up, by adding a 2,000-square-foot, climate-controlled facility for aging and curing his cheeses to his existing premises. Vote to help Shep grow his business and add more zing to his community’s rural economy.


Louis-Philippe Noel, 34, Quebec City—Innvue
The Innvue team has been bringing “lights, camera, action” to hotel rooms across Canada for a decade with integrated digital television services. But Louis-Philippe Noel is taking the company beyond traditional hotel television services with his new Odyssey platform. Odyssey introduces hotel guests to an interactive smart-television experience, and creates a new marketing and e-commerce channel for hotels. Innvue wants to actively promote Odyssey to the North American hotel industry to capture a market the company believes is ripe for the taking—if it moves fast. Vote to help Louis prove a young Canadian company can go toe-to-toe and thrive against global technology giants.

New Brunswick

Pat Whalen, 33, Fredericton—LuminUltra Technologies Ltd.
Pat Whalen and the LuminUltra team have been getting their feet wet for years in places most people fear to tread. They have pioneered methods that can reduce the time it takes to test for unsafe levels of microorganisms, like bacteria, in water from days to mere minutes. The next step is to merge data analytics, GPS and mobile technology together, so that these test results can be quickly collected, interpreted and visualized on a map—enabling speedy decision-making when public health may be at risk. Vote to help Pat invest in the product development and manufacturing capacity needed for this revolutionary technology to go mobile.

Nova Scotia

Paula MacPherson, 31, Bedford South—Southgate Dentistry
Paula MacPherson is one of a rare breed—a dentist entrepreneur. With few established dental practices for sale in the Halifax area, she had little choice but to create her own from scratch. As with any startup, growing a loyal clientele takes time, and initial equipment costs can pile up high debt that hinders growth. Paula’s rapidly growing community needs more dental services and more educational outreach to help young families proactively manage their children’s oral health. Yet, to provide the high-quality service her practice prides on, she needs to equip two more treatment rooms. Vote for Paula to help her expand capacity and keep Bedford South beaming with beautiful smiles.

Northwest Territories

Nicole Redvers, 32, Yellowknife—Gaia Integrative Clinic
Bringing quality medical services to Northern communities may be a tall order, but Nicole Redvers and the team at Gaia Integrative Clinic have found the right prescription to make it happen. The clinic is the only integrated, team-based wellness centre in the Northwest Territories, and high demand for its services has left it in urgent need of expansion. Nicole hopes to add new services, serve more patients, and to staff rotating travel clinics to reach residents in remote communities where access to healthcare is limited. Vote to help Nicole and her team touch more lives for the better and provide northern communities with more healthcare options.

Keep up with the contest

Follow the contest on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Visit bdc.ca/awards to learn other ways in which BDC recognizes Canadian entrepreneurs. The BDC Young Entrepreneur Award winner and runner-up will be announced on June 18. The runner-up will receive $25,000 in consulting services offered by BDC.

About the BDC Young Entrepreneur Award contest

Created by the Business Development Bank of Canada in 1988, the BDC Young Entrepreneur Award contest pays tribute to remarkable Canadian entrepreneurs between 18 and 35.  This year, nine finalists were selected to compete for a $100,000 Grand Prize. A second prize of $25,000 in consulting services offered by BDC will be awarded to the contest runner-up. For the first time in 2014, a national committee evaluated the quality of the finalist projects and gave each finalist a ranking that will be combined with the public vote. The national committee evaluation was weighted to account for 30% of each project’s final ranking and the public vote will account for the remaining 70% of the ranking. www.bdc.ca/yea.

About BDC

Canada’s business development bank, BDC puts entrepreneurs first. With almost 2,000 employees and more than 100 business centres across the country, BDC offers financing, subordinate financing, venture capital, securitization and consulting services to more than 28,000 small and medium-sized companies. Their success is vital to Canada’s economic prosperity.

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