Electronic Products & Technology

Hygienic Echo captures ventureLAB HardTech pitch competition

Stephen Law   

Automation / Robotics Electronics Semiconductors Wireless Engineering Medical Wearable Technology Able Innovations AI automotive Buddy-badge Canada Editor Pick HardTech Hygienic Echo Intel medtech start-ups ventureLAB York Region

Buddy Badge System cleans-up as top tech as selected by judges panel

Eight leading-edge Canadian technology firms lined up to pitch their ground-breaking ideas front of a panel of judges as part of the VentureLAB HardTech Pitch Competition last week. In the end, it was Toronto-based Hygienic Echo Inc. that cleaned-up, capturing the first place cash prize of $30,000 for its Buddy Badge System – a smart hand hygiene and infection control solution, designed for use in medical, healthcare, foodservice, and institutional environments. Essentially, the system operates as an intermittent deployment of an electronic monitoring system on hand hygiene behaviours in healthcare workers.

Accepting the award during the ventureLAB gala dinner event in Markham ON was Catharine Hancharek, COO & VP of partnerships and Majid Janidarmian, CTO & VP of engineering at Hygienic Echo.

“Winning the HardTech Pitch Competition is a tremendous honour for the Hygienic Echo team,” said Catharine Hancharek, chief operating officer at Hygienic Echo. “It is so important to connect with like minded, passionate entrepreneurs and investors in this sector and we are grateful to have had the opportunity to do so at the HardTech Summit. The ventureLAB Team is a phenomenal partner for our future success.”

Toronto-based Hygienic Echo Inc. captured the top award at this year’s VentureLAB HardTech Pitch Competition. The Toronto firm was recognized for Buddy Badge System – a smart hand hygiene and infection control solution for healthcare and institutional environments. Source: Hygienic Echo Inc.

Toronto-based medical equipment OEM, Able Innovations performed a double-dip in the winner’s circle, capturing the second-place prize of $20,000, as well as the Siemens Software Award.


Able Innovations develops advanced medical devices such as its patient transfer equipment in used in healthcare environments. The firm’s leading-edge tech is poised to replace the existing complex and physically demanding task of transfer leads to a high rate of injuries for care workers and patients.

The ALTA Platform, developed by Able Innovations, allows healthcare workers to safely and easily transfer patients via ‘smart’ and connected beds. Source: Able Innovations

The HardTech Pitch Competition is exclusively open to small and medium enterprises in Canada who are pioneering breakthrough products and innovations in hardware technology for a chance to win a collective $50,000 in cash prizes. For the very first time, ventureLAB received an impressive 46 applications from companies across the country.

Aside from the winners named above, here are the other six companies that were shortlisted to present their lead-edge projects to the judges panel:

Applied Brain Research Inc., pioneers of a new era of low-power, cloud-independent devices with groundbreaking AI processors and a proprietary, patented algorithm, the Legendre Memory Unit.

Digitho, developers of a solution that is integrated into the lithography process in semiconductor manufacturing and is the first company in the industry to bring this solution via the programmable photomask (patented).

Enertics, a Milton ON-based technology company providing Industrial IOT solutions to customers with a vision to lead the innovations in industrial asset monitoring and management technologies.

Just Vertical, developers of an indoor gardens, which fuse the cutting-edge science of vertical farming with mid-century modern design to create indoor gardens for the home, office and warehouse.

Longan Vision focuses on the design and manufacture of enhanced vision and communication devices providing engineered products to face extreme challenges to enhance communication and efficiency.

Steadiwear builds stabilization technology designed to reduce hand tremors, allowing the user to age in place while improving their quality of life & independence.

Day one summit – panels, exhibits

Day one of ventureLAB’s third annual Hardtech event – held in partnership with York Region, kicked off with an impressive lineup of impactful speakers, thought-provoking panels and cutting edge technology displayed in a trade-show style set up of technical booths. The technology and innovation focused summit is aimed at supporting hardware, semiconductor, medtech, AI and automobility. HardTech 2023 did not disappoint, as it managed to bring together more than 800 industry leaders, founders, partners, innovators, government officials and regulators virtually and in person.

CBC’s tech columnist Manjula Selvarajah hosted day one of the HardTech summit. Source: EP&T

Hosted by the CBC’s tech columnist Manjula Selvarajah, the summit started with opening remarks from ventureLAB’s CEO, Hugh Chow as well as the VP of the Hardware Catalyst Initiative, Avinash Persaud. What followed was an exciting group of speakers and panelists who shared key insights on everything from artificial intelligence to MedTech, hardware, automotive, IP, investment, talent and more.

Some highlights from HardTech 2023

The jam-packed agenda featured keynote speaker Denis Gaudreault, Canada country manager at Intel, who outlined Canada’s role in the semiconductor sector with valuable recommendations on how to leverage key partnerships to drive growth, such as capitalizing on our close relationship with the US and diversifying government funding for semiconductor start-ups. Gaudreault also welcomed guests to the term ‘Siliconomy’, coined by Intel, which describes how semiconductors are the foundation for the economy of the future.

Denis Gaudreault, Canada country manager at Intel, outlined Canada’s role in the semiconductor sector during his address at HardTech. Source: EP&T

Gaudreault’s keynote was followed by a robust discussion featuring Jay Dawani, CEO and co-founder of Lemurian Labs, Alex Qi, CEO of Pontosense and Homeira Afshar, research and insight analyst at the Ontario Vehicle Innovation Network (OVIN), moderated by Anita Balakriishnan, reporter at The Logic. Panelists outlined the automotive sector’s road to recovery in a post-pandemic world and the trends we can expect to see in the next five years.

HardTech attendees also had the privilege of learning from industry experts who shared valuable insights and salient advice for hardware start-ups raising investment. The panel titled, “Driving Investment in Canadian Hardware Start-ups: What Do VCs Consider?”, was joined by Sabrina Sasaki, principal & country manager at Monozukuri Ventures, Jim Laird, CFA, CPA, CMA, director, technology & innovation banking, risk management at Roynat Capital and Cyrille Brando, director technology partnerships and strategic business development at Bosch and moderated by Yuri Navarro, managing partner at Kanata Ventures and advisor at ventureLAB. Attendees were left with valuable recommendations on how to successfully secure investment from different types of funders at all stages of startup growth.

HardTech panelists discuss the subject of Driving Investment in Canadian Hardware Start-ups: What Do VCs Consider? Source: EP&T

Sponsored by Marvell Technology, Douglas Soltys, editor in chief at BetaKit moderated “Hardware That Powers AI”, which discussed the key trends, windows of opportunity, challenges and the impact that AI will have on functionality, performance and efficiency in the hardware ecosystem. In discussion were Arun Iyengar, CEO at Untether AI, Phil Vokins, Director – Channels, ISVs and Cloud at Intel Corporation, Ben Davies, CIO at the Vector Institute.

After an impressive showcase of student-built robots by the FIRST Robotics team, the panels came to a close as HardTech day one wrapped up with a networking cocktail reception, sponsored by the Canadian Semiconductor Council.

“ventureLAB’s HardTech Summit 2023 was a huge success making it the best attended summit we’ve hosted so far. We look forward to continuing showcasing innovation, fostering collaboration, and recognizing groundbreaking achievements in the hardtech sector locally and globally at our summit next year,” said Jane Gertner, chief growth officer.

Another panel, titled: Hardware That Powers AI, discussed the key trends, windows of opportunity, challenges and the impact that AI will have on functionality, performance and efficiency in the hardware ecosystem. Source: EP&T


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