And the winner is . . .

By Tony Patterson

You know before a half dozen sentences pass his lips that Peter Popplewell and his sidekick Victor Karam will walk away with the $10K prize. It’s almost as if they are ringers in the 8th annual Technology Venture Challenge (TVC). Popplewell-Karam-322X349.jpgAs if they are pros brought in to kick butt as the final presentations take place at a gala event last night at Ben Franklin Place. Not that the runners-up have poor ideas or are unprepared. They each get five grand for showing up, if only to give the feel of a competition. But they are the 67s against the Senators. Popplewell (left in the photo by Hyung Cheol Park) stickhandles the plan like Alfie-in-a-suit, his presentation that polished, as Karam sits silently by, running the slide show. They’re both PhD candidates at Carleton and you sense that there will be other occasions when Karam will do the talking. They are a potent team and they have a big dream — to tackle the immense commercial RFID market through a soft underbelly they’ve identified in medical sensors. As their way in they’ve already designed and patented and formed a company to sell a sensor completely integrated, battery and antenna and all, on a single chip — a feat, they claim, never before accomplished. The confidence with which this is said makes one a believer. More astonishing, even, than the confidence, is the track record. Popplewell has been named OCRI Student Researcher of the Year, Karam has published a number of papers in important journals, and they have already raised more than $40,000 for their enterprise, including $25,000 from Carleton’s innovative Foundry Program. The other TVC finalists: an innovative, non-invasive approach to delivering insulin-on-nanochips (DNA-based nanochips no less) to diabetics, and a better way to lighten skin colour. The crowd of 250 there to applaud these academic entrepreneurs (TVC is open to post-secondary students in eastern Ontario), learn that 40% of the $11 billion spent on cosmetics in the Asia-Pacific region is spent for products to lighten the skin. There are smart young people right here in Ottawa who have drawn a bead on this market. Makes one proud.

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