Sleep apnea treatment device takes judges’ breath away at OppFest innovation competition

Mar 29, 2017

The team behind Zennea Technologies, the grand prize winners at this year’s Opportunity Fest

SFU’s brightest young entrepreneurs gathered at the university’s Surrey campus on Thursday, March 23, 2017, for the seventh annual Opportunity Fest event, showcasing their innovative ventures and competing for prizes in a number of categories. The overall grand prize winner for the venture that best exemplifies commitment to a Triple Bottom Line – taking into consideration People, Planet and Profit – was won by Zennea Technologies, which is creating a portable device to treat sleep apnea, replacing traditional unwieldy solutions. The Triple Bottom Line award and the OppFest event as a whole are sponsored by Vancity.

“Winning the prize means a lot to me,” says Nell Du, a Mechatronic Systems Engineering student and part of the Technology Entrepreneurship @ SFU program, and one of the team behind Zennea Technologies. “It showed us that we are moving forward in the right direction, and that affirmation from the judges is really important to us at this stage. Right now, we feel more confident about our product and even more motivated to push it forward.”

“It feels great for our work to be validated,” adds her teammate Rachel Chase, studying for her BBA at Beedie. “The TechE@SFU experience of seeing our idea grow into something tangible has helped me gain confidence in my decisions and entrepreneurial skills. My partners and I are excited to use this funding to push our venture forward beyond the classroom.”

This year’s event was the biggest yet, with more than 50 ventures presenting their ideas to a distinguished panel of expert judges, drawn from the world of business, entrepreneurship, the community and the University. The entrants also reflected SFU’s commitment to making a positive impact in the world; the Impact category of previous years was so oversubscribed that this year it was divided into two separate categories, Most Impact Environmental Opportunity and Most Impactful Social Opportunity. Even so, these were still the two largest categories in this year’s competition.

The event also included “junior innovators” from Fraser Heights secondary, giving local high school students the opportunity to showcase their own projects to the innovation community and SFU students, and gain advice to help them make their ideas a reality.

The full list of winners in each category is as follows:

Triple Bottom Line (sponsored by VanCity): Zennea Technologies

Zennea Technologies is creating the world’s smallest CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device to treat Sleep Apnea.

Most impactful environmental opportunity: SIM Globe

SIM Globe aims to improve honey production efficiency using 3D printed honeycombs.

Most impactful social opportunity: Zodiac

The venture’s emURGENCY app will increase hospital efficiency by providing medical information to doctors prior to the patient being diagnosed.

Most innovative technological solution: Zennea Technologies

Most investable opportunity: Open Spot

The “airBnB of parking”, facilitating the communication between private lot owners and drivers looking for a cheap parking spot

Entrepreneurs Choice: Ecoffee

Upcycling coffee grounds from coffee shops in Vancouver to optimize the use of a valuable resource.

“Junior Innovators” award: CHAAC the AstroPi

A cost effective solution that monitors and records weather parameters such as temperature, humidity and air pressure.

“Opportunity Fest is a way for us to showcase the incredible work our students do and power of aiming interdisciplinary teams at real world programs,” says Dr. Sarah Lubik, SFU’s Director of Entrepreneurship. “But perhaps more importantly, it’s a unique opportunity to have the entire innovation community, from innovation support organizations to the city to entrepreneurial alumni and more, to rally around our students and provide inspiration, guidance and encouragement to the next generation of innovators.”

See photographs from the event at the Beedie flickr page.

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