SurveillanceSurveillance tech developers capture Breakthru venture capital

Published 18 March 2011

Three academics from the University of New Brunswick were awarded $285,000 in cash, the richest entrepreneurship competition in Canada, to continue developing better surveillance camera technology

Three academics from the University of New Brunswick were awarded $285,000 in cash investments and professional services at the 2011 Breakthru awards, the richest entrepreneurship competition in Canada, to continue developing better surveillance camera technology.

Breakthru is a biennial competition that gives budding entrepreneurs the resources they need to start a business. This year, a total of $285,000 was awarded to three of the six finalists.

The New Brunswick Innovation Foundation, an independent corporation funded by the province, hopes to stimulate entrepreneurship, particularly innovation, through the Breakthrough program.

Foundation president and CEO Calvin Milbury calls the awards “a company in a box” including cash, accounting, legal services, and web services. There are welve contributing partners this year, he said.

We surround these entrepreneurs with a network of professionals and give them access to resources and improve their odds of success,” Milbury said.

The goal, he says, is to give potential entrepreneurs the push they need to get their company started.

Many aspiring entrepreneurs simply don’t have the time or resources to get their business off the ground and running. Breakthru makes that possible.”

Scene Sharp, a start-up company in Fredericton, was awarded $145,000 in venture capital investments and professional services at the Breakthru gala on Wednesday night, presented by the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation and the law firm, Cox & Palmer.

In addition, Scene Sharp’s video won the Viewers’ Choice Award, sponsored by CBC Television, which means the team will travel to Toronto to pitch their business on the set of the show, Dragons’ Den.

It will mean great things for the company,” Jordan deWinter, the fourth-year UNB business student who is handling Scene Sharp’s marketing and business development, said of the awards.

It’s a huge step forward for us. It will fast forward the development of our company.”

DeWinter and fellow business student, Pablo Alvarez, have teamed up with Zun Zhang, UNB professor of geodesy and geomatic engineering, on a project that will move surveillance cameras to the next level in terms of presenting the sharpest images possible.

The camera lens and chip technology being developed by Scene Sharp detects and identifies the 3-D location of a moving object and provides an image that is three times sharper than anything currently on the market.

This award is an amazing thing not only for us, but for New Brunswick,” Alvarez, who is originally from Ecuador, said of the Breakthru competition. “I think it will attract more people to the province.”

The two runner-up companies, Enovex of Saint John, a developer of carbon capture technology for coal plants that can filter out 90 percent of the carbon dioxide found in flue gasses, and airMe of Fredericton, a developer of technology that allows manufacturers to place electronic tags inside products detectable and identifiable by a smart phone in close proximity, each won $70,000 in prizes.

Speaking of Enovex’s technology, Scott Walton, president, said “It’s an entirely new process and if we’re able to hit the target we say we’re going to hit, it’ll completely change the game for carbon capture.”


The Enovex system consolidates carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water emitted with the goal of reusing or selling the byproducts to either reduce costs or generate revenues.

This award will expedite our development in terms of us getting our product to market.”

In the end, he says, the annual cost to coal plants using his system should be less than the taxes those plants pay on their carbon emissions.

Yan Simard from airMe said that the award “…means there are even more people who believe our idea is a good one and we can get to the next level.”

Peter Forestell, managing partner of law firm Cox and Palmer in New Brunswick, which donated money and legal advice to the contest, said his firm is keen on helping entrepreneurs by offering legal services at a time when the aspiring business people need them the most, but cannot afford to shell out.

Forestell, a practicing lawyer for more than three decades, said Breakthru helps create an environment of entrepreneurship in New Brunswick that’s “vital” to the economy.


Keynote speaker Clarissa Desjardins, the Moncton native who founded two multi-million-dollar pharmaceutical companies, told the finalists that the initial $300,000 she raised for her first company was much harder to find than the $35 million she raised for her second company.

I think all entrepreneurs go through sacrifices and struggles and people do eventually make it and it’s worth it.”

Desjardins congratulated the innovation foundation for hosting the competition.

In my day, if I’d had that first idea at New Brunswick University, I doubt it would have been able to be developed. There was no venture capital, no angel investors. Whereas now, because of the foundation, there are dozens of little startup companies just like mine and I think that’s fantastic. I really believe in it.”