Edmonton Entrepreneurs: Take the novaNAIT Challenge

NAIT The novaNAIT Centre for Applied Research and Technology Transfer is running a new competition for local entrepreneurs. The novaNAIT Technology Commercialization Challenge aims to introduce and generate interest around applied research. Any Edmonton-area resident 18 years of age and older can submit a business idea for the chance to win up to $10,000 worth of services.

NovaNAIT is the new technology transfer arm of NAIT, much like TEC Edmonton is the technology transfer arm of the U of A. The goal is to help inventors and entrepreneurs get their ideas into the marketplace. The challenge is novaNAIT’s way of introducing itself to the community, and was inspired by an internal challenge held for NAIT staff in December 2006.

When I first came across the challenge, I noted that it seemed similar to TEC Edmonton’s VenturePrize. I asked David Burry, Coordinator of novaNAIT’s Prototype Development Program, about the similarity and he told me that he feels the competition compliments VenturePrize. The prizes for the novaNAIT Challenge aren’t quite as big, but they are tailored to the specific needs of the winner. Also, the competition is open to everyone whereas VenturePrize focuses on high-tech and fast-growth sectors. Burry said both competitions share the goal of “assisting in small business development and enhancing the entrepreneurial culture” in Edmonton.

If you’d like to participate in the novaNAIT Challenge, you need to submit an entry form (pdf) no later than 4pm MST on November 21st, 2008 (a week from today). Those entries will be judged and successful entrants will be invited to give a five minute presentation on their idea to a panel of judges on December 11th, 2008. The winner will be chosen and announced the following day.

The judges will evaluate entries on how innovative they are, the commercial and technical viability of the idea, the marketability of the solution, and the potential for economic impact in Alberta. The initial submission should not contain confidential details, but the presentations in phase two can (judges will sign a non-disclosure agreement). Entrepreneurs who choose to participate retain full ownership of their ideas.

I think we could use more competitions such as this one. Having participated in VenturePrize myself, I know how much work goes into a submission, and I think it turns many people away. The novaNAIT Challenge seems more accessible, and is a good way for local entrepreneurs to get some practice articulating their ideas to others in the community.

For more information on the novaNAIT Challenge, visit the website or contact David Burry via email or at 780.378.6187. If you’re planning to participate, I’d love to hear about it!