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Social Impact Showcase announces Big Ideas Challenge winners

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Winners of the Big Ideas Challenge

Above: Tim Souza (SEED), Julia Hiscock (MapleKey), the Soleful team, Indi Madar (Arawelo), and the Cultured team

St. Paul’s GreenHouse held its Winter Social Impact Showcase recently, announcing the winners of the Big Ideas Challenge and the recipients of the Social Impact Fund, as well as celebrating the successes of past Social Impact Fund recipients such as Richard Yim of Landmine Boys and Tina Chan of PASS.

The Big Ideas Challenge is a social venture competition, with winners receiving GreenHouse Fellowships during the summer months. This year, five social enterprises received Fellowships totalling $9,500 and the possibility of accessing $15,000 more through the Social Impact Fund. They are: MapleKey, a modular sleeping pod service; Soleful, a technology to reduce falls among older adults; Cultured, a plant-based approach to culturing meat; SEED, an innovative approach to burial; and Arawelo, a cross-cultural women’s health platform.

Some ventures have been years in the making. Julia Hiscock, founder of MapleKey, began thinking about her idea when she saw homeless people choosing to sleep on the lawn of a shelter. Recognizing issues of privacy and dignity needed to be taken into account, Julia began looking at different shelter models. This summer, she hopes to develop a team and to get her product market-ready.

Similarly, Soleful began with a health hackathon at UWaterloo, and led to a capstone project for this team. Team member Dhruv Guliana says, “Our team is really excited about GreenHouse. We’re all engineering students so it will be very useful for us to develop business knowledge and market analysis and receive other kinds of mentorship. We’re also looking forward to networking opportunities – even at the Social Impact Showcase event, we made many meaningful contacts.”

The Cultured team is also looking forward to developing relationships at GreenHouse. “You can get money or space anywhere,” says team member Jawad Khan. “What’s unique about GreenHouse is the people. These are the kind of people we want to work with. We’re looking forward to the culture of GreenHouse, getting connected with their network and developing friendships and partnerships that will help us grow.”

Other winners at the Showcase included the recipients of the Social Impact Fund, which provides startup support to developing GreenHouse ventures. This term, Nicole Yang and Anna Chang were the recipients of $2,500 and $1,000 respectively. Nicole’s venture, rePUBLIC, aims to create more engaging public spaces through art installations paired with an app, and Anna’s venture, Midori, will investigate how to alleviate textile waste by repurposing used textiles into eco-friendly clothing.

Nicole Yang accepting SIF award

Nicole Yang

Anna Chang accepting SIF award

Anna Chang

- with files by Susan Fish