Problem Pitch Finalists Announced

Friday, March 6, 2020

Winter 2020 Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch Competition Finalists

To be a successful entrepreneur, it is essential that you find an important problem to solve, and thoroughly understand its scope, scale, and history. The larger the problem, the larger your profit could be. That’s why the Problem Lab is once again to host this semester’s Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch Competition, where teams of students were tasked with the challenge of identifying important industry problems and conducting research, before pitching their findings for the chance to win a share of up to $30,000 in funding.

This term’s competition will see the student teams competing in two different categories: Open Problems and Billion Dollar Problems.

Six teams were selected as finalists from thirty-five applicants, and they will each make a five-minute pitch on their research to a panel of judges on Thursday, March 12, competing for $7,500 of funding and 1st place in their respective categories. Teams will also have the opportunity to double their funding following the event, as they work with the Problem Lab to develop a solution to the problem identified. This term, the finalists have identified problems ranging from non-lethal weapons to the management of plastic waste. Below are the finalists and the problems they’ve identified:


Communicate AI: High quality communications training is not scalable and available to everyone.

Cybin: Cyber insurance providers are finding it increasingly difficult to price their premiums.

Olnair: There is no effective tool present for women to protect themselves against sexual violence.


A Friendlier Company: Plastic waste management is a global problem costing government and industry and causing mass pollution.

EyeSpec: The lack of accessible and accurate early stage diagnosis in eye care.

Scope: Smartphone cameras are unable to optically zoom.

The panel of judges this term will be drawing on their developed industry knowledge and their own entrepreneurial experience:

Michael Litt

Michael is the co-founder and CEO of the video platform for business, Vidyard. While he's not bringing leading video-based technologies to market, he serves as a general partner of Garage Capital, a seed-stage fund focused on Super-Cluster companies looking to expand their networks into Silicon Valley.

Margaret Dalziel

Margaret Dalziel is an Associate Professor with the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business at the University of Waterloo, and co-founder and VP Research of The Evidence Network.  She is an active researcher and a member of the governing council of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.  An authority on the evaluation of business support programs, Margaret has served on expert panels for the Treasury Board of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and the Council of Canadian Academies. 

Eric Blondeel

Eric Blondeel is the CEO and Co-Founder of Jelponics Inc., a new cleantech venture in algae farming. He previously cofounded ExVivo, a medtech startup building improved allergy testing technology. Eric has a PhD in chemical engineering from UWaterloo, where he researched anti-cancer drugs. He's also an alumni of YCombinator (S16).

The Winter 2020 Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch finals will be held from 7:00pm – 10:00pm on Thursday, March 12 in the Engineering 7 (E7), 2nd floor Pitch Space, on the University of Waterloo campus. Attendees from the university and the broader community are all welcome to watch the pitches. Please register to attend.

The Quantum Valley Investments® Problem Pitch Competition is made possible by $300,000 in funding from Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin, principals of Quantum Valley Investments® and founders of Blackberry. 

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