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SFU student innovation and interdisciplinary collaboration highlighted at Opportunity Fest

Apr 11, 2014

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Undergraduate student entrepreneurs from across Simon Fraser University gathered to celebrate innovation at the fourth annual Opportunity Fest, a marketplace-style showcase of student creativity, entrepreneurship and innovation. 

This year the event, held on March 31 at SFU’s Surrey campus, included innovators and opportunity-seizers from across the university. In addition to business, students also came from disciplines as varied as Communications, Interactive Arts and Technologies (IAT), International Studies, Mechatronics (MSE), and Psychology, and several working with cutting-edge SFU researchers in areas like 3D printing and realistic avatars.

The event underscored the Beedie School of Business’ engagement with the wider business community, with a total of 30 guest judges from academia and industry on hand to give feedback on the student entrepreneurs’ projects.

“Part of the importance of the event is student empowerment through innovation,” says Eric Gedajlovic, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the Beedie School of Business and founder of Opportunity Fest. “The exhibits on display represent not only the fruits of the students’ intellectual efforts – they also represent their interests and concerns, and relate to topics and issues that they feel passionate about.”

The event featured a number of categories, including Most Innovative Technological Opportunity, Most Impactful Opportunity, Most Investable Opportunity, the Entrepreneur’s Choice Award, and Mr. and Ms. Opportunity, awarded to the most engaging student presenters.

The Opportunity Fest grand prize, the Charles Chang Student Entrepreneurship Award, went to two teams: Noushin Emami, Anne Bedry & Anne Semeriai, for their designer shower head that changes colour to warn of excess water use; and to Amandine Subias, Mark Anthony Wijaya, Yann Chevalier & Noémie Frohn, who presented a hand-crafted chutney made with ‘rescued’ fruit and vegetables. The teams shared a prize of $1000, donated by Beedie BBA alumnus Charles Chang, founder of nutrition company Vega.

The winner of both Most Innovative Technological Opportunity and the Entrepreneur’s Choice award was EveryWare, a cloud-based software development platform that is the brainchild of Rizwan Qaiser, Karen Aflalo, Caroline Prax & Sarah Viala.

The award for Most Impactful Opportunity went to Aavis Bhindi, Raymond Kaila & Helen Shi for their work on Brain Shield, a safety patch developed in the MSE department for football athletes that can be applied to the outer shell of any helmet to reduce concussions and head trauma upon impact.

First prize for Most Investable Opportunity was a tie between Maxime Pautet, Morgane Auffret, Louis Vagogne & Carole Attia’s venture, La Tartine, a food truck specializing in authentic French food, and Synergy Solutions, Tim Samarasinghe, Carmen Javier, Kevin Kumar & Noelia Brillante’s car control system which provides smart phone users real time control and reports from their vehicle.

This year’s event invited students from Surrey’s Fraser Heights Secondary who excelled in their own innovation week, with an award category designed exclusively for them. The Junior Innovators award was presented to Jay Dhanju, Jayce Dinza and Shaan Sidhu for their interchangeable shoe soles venture, K-Sliders. Their prize package included SFU sweatshirts and a networking lunch with current SFU students.

“It is important that we make these students aware of the all of the options available to them at SFU and that they can be innovators no matter which discipline they choose,” said Sarah Sarah Lubik, Director of Technology Entrepreneurship@SFU. “The most impactful and revolutionary innovations often happen when disciplines collide.”

For more information on Opportunity Fest 2014, visit beedie.sfu.ca/oppfest/overview/

View photos from Opportunity Fest on the Beedie School of Business Flickr page.

Opportunity Fest 2014 was held on the mezzanine level of SFU's Surrey campus.

Opportunity Fest 2014 was held on the mezzanine level of SFU’s Surrey campus.