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FREDsense wins grand prize in Perfect Pitch competition

Emily Hicks’ business pitch at Innovate Calgary Tech Showcase wins $35,000 in prizes
September 15, 2014
FREDsense director Emily Hicks won the grand prize for her 90-second business pitch at Innovate Calgary Tech Showcase Sept. 11. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

FREDsense director Emily Hicks won the grand prize for her 90-second business pitch at Innovate Calgary Tech Showcase Sept. 11. Photo by Riley Brandt, University of Calgary

With her compelling 90-second business pitch, Emily Hicks, director of FREDsense Technologies, won the grand prize in the Perfect Pitch competition held Sept. 11 during the 15th annual Innovate Calgary Tech Showcase.

Part of Beakerhead week, Tech Showcase is one of Calgary’s largest tech sector events. The Perfect Pitch prize, worth more than $35,000 in cash and in-kind prizes, was awarded following a busy afternoon of innovation, interactive displays and competition between more than 20 local startup companies participating in the 90-second business pitch competition.

Judges, including accredited investors, chose the three finalists who then moved on to pitch to the crowd. The winning pitch was chosen by votes from the startup and tech community.

“At FREDsense, we make portable sensors for toxins in water, mostly petroleum‐based compounds. What makes us unique is that we have a really fast, onsite technology that can tell you if there’s one of these toxins present,” says Hicks.

Comprised of a group of young entrepreneurs, FREDsense is developing a unique biosensor system that provides real‐time detection and identification of toxins in water, primarily targeted to be used in the oil and gas industry to aid in water remediation.

Current methods of testing water require longer lengths of time, are labour intensive or do not accurately report the relative toxicity.

FRED (which stands for Field Ready Electrochemical Detector) harnesses the power of genetically-modified environmental bacteria to be able to quickly and accurately detect petroleum‐related toxins. Users of the technology will have the potential to have results in‐hand quickly.

FREDsense is in the process of getting their product to market. “Today, we are asking for $500,000, which is what we think we need to bring our product to market and get a field version ready,” says Hicks.

Innovate Calgary aims to accelerate, facilitate, and support innovation in the technology sector, and Tech Showcase is a venue for Calgary’s advanced tech sector to gain exposure and build key relationships that have the potential to lead to opportunities.

"Tech Showcase and the Perfect Pitch competition are a unique opportunity for Calgary’s early‐stage, technology companies to interact not only with the advanced tech community but with the general public, and to showcase the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit that lives here," says Peter Garrett, president of Innovate Calgary.

“We’re very excited to win. There were a lot of great competitors out there so we’re very honoured to be chosen as the winner today,” says Hicks.