Regional businesses shine at 2012 KAST Sprit of Innovation Awards
The West Kootenay-Boundary’s leading innovative businesses, entrepreneurs and organizations were celebrated on stage in Nelson, and across the province this past week as the winners of the 2012 Spirit of Innovation Awards were announced. Long known for its geographical beauty, often overlooked is the region’s vast and diverse entrepreneurial talent pool. Thursday, Oct 25th was a night to celebrate the immensely creative and enterprising people we have here in the Kootenay – Boundary and a night to celebrate the courage it takes to venture in new directions, to do things different and the pursuit of a better way.
Held every four years by KAST, (Kootenay Association for Science and Technology) the awards honour local businesses, organizations and individuals in four categories: Most Promising Start-up, Most Innovative Company, Most Innovative Entrepreneur, and Most Innovative Organization. Nominees are adjudicated by a panel of experts on innovation, community impact, leadership and sound business practices. The four winners received, half-page feature profile in BC Business Magazine, promoting the Kootenay-Boundary region province-wide, as well as the coveted Spirit of Innovation trophy and plenty o’ bragging rights.
Before a lively crowd of 100 plus attendees, awards were handed out in four categories:
Most Promising Start-up Award Winner: Timely – Nelson
Sponsored by the BC Innovation Council
View nomination video for Timely HERE
Most Innovative Organization Winner: The Selkirk Geospatial Research Center – Castlegar
Supported by the Columbia Basin Trust
Most Innovative Entrepreneur Award Winner: Fiona Richards of Cartolina Cards – Nelson
Supported by Teck
View nomination video for Fiona Richards here
Most Innovative Company Winner: Thoughtstream / Fulcrum Management – Rossland
Supported by the City of Nelson
Featuring an entertaining keynote by one of North America’s leading experts in digital marketing, chief strategist at Engage-Q Digital and long-time CBC radio tech coloumnist Tod Maffin, and a number of fun games the awards celebration were a major success and celebration of the positive forces driving our region forward.
“We hold this event every four years, and each time you can’t help but walk away with a tremendous sense of optimism for the future of our region,” noted KAST executive director Kelvin Saldern. “The amazing talent expressed by all 16 of the nominees is just a small slice of the bar raising work being done right here at home that proves the Kootenay – Boundary is not just a place for business to survive, but to thrive and compete with the best in the world.”
Acting as beacons for the region, the four winners and 16 semi-finalists, more so than any advertisements, are proof to the greater provincial, national and world economy that the Kootenay-Boundary is a hot-bed of innovation.
“At KAST we are an economic development group working towards a strong, robust and diverse economic future in the West Kootenay- Boundary, through science and technology,” explained Anders Malpass, chair of KAST’s board of directors. “To that effect it is absolutely critical that we support those individuals, start-ups, organizations and companies that are putting in the hard work and long hours to come up with new and better ways to do things. KAST’s mission is to help facilitate that innovation into successful ventures.”
About the winners:
Most Promising Startup Winner: Timely – Nelson
Timely (http://time.ly/) has built the foundation of a global network that is revolutionizing how people discover, share and create events, demonstrating innovation through research, development and application of software technology. Timely’s initial All-in-One Event Calendar grew out of an existing “inthekoots” regional network, and quickly gained traction. Timely has solved the issue of isolated event calendars that don’t communicate with one another, eliminating the time lapse of webcrawler based systems, ending event posting duplication, and connecting all events with save, share and RSVP functions.
The success of Timely’s All-in-One Event Calendar is evident in its take-up: over 30,000 websites have adopted the plugin in 12 languages, and the system features more than 750,000 upcoming monthly events. 250 WordPress developers have given it a five star rating, and it has shot to the #1 most downloaded WordPress calendar plugin.
Most Innovative Organization: Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre – Castlegar
The Selkirk Geospatial Research Centre (SGRC) (http://selkirk.ca/research/sgrc/) at Selkirk College is a centre of excellence in computer mapping. Founded in 2004 on a Canadian Centre for Innovation grant, with matching funds from the BC government and significant contributions from local companies and organizations, the SGRC has grown over the last decade from a grass roots concept to a leading edge R&D facility for the Kootenay-Boundary area. The SGRC links Selkirk’s GIS teaching programs – including an Advanced Diploma in Geographic Information Systems (ADGIS) and a popular and progressive Bachelor of GIS degree – with community needs and business opportunities for geospatial research and application development.
The SGRC has led two prominent NSERC projects in partnership with industry, and works with regional governments and other organizations, using new methods of visualizing spatial digital information and interactive web map development to make spatial information more accessible, exciting, and useful in real life applications. Projects have included the development of a carbon management information web portal and prototype online decision support tools, as well as a GeoPortal environmental change analysis system that is working towards bringing the functionality of sophisticated remote sensing software to the general user.
Most Innovator Entrepreneur- Fiona Richards of Cartolina Cards – Nelson
Fiona Richards from Cartolina Cards (www.cartolina.com) has used innovative solutions, creative business management and a uniquely recognizable product to maneuver the Cartolina brand from start-up in 2007 to one of the stationery industry’s most respected and progressive independent brands. Shopping the world for distinctive art, Richards and her team have developed one of Canada’s best-selling greeting card lines. Taking the product digital and mobile launched them globally. Mashable rated Cartolina best e-card app in 2011, the New York Times has featured the app twice, and Cartolina has celebrated countless international TV and magazine appearances. Consistently picked as an Apple staff favourite, Cartolina is about to release its fourth app. Creative flair, a unique product, relentless tech savvy and a mobile & social media strategy have helped this creative company blossom into a truly innovative and international industry leader.
Most Innovative Company: Thoughtstream
Thoughtstream (www.thoughtstream.ca) is an enterprise software development company committed to building and supporting tools for community learning, engagement and collaboration. The Thoughtstream product allows diverse communities to contribute individual thoughts on an issue and then arrive at a shared understanding by collectively assigning value to those thoughts.
Thoughtstream was founded in 2009 by innovative software developer Jim Firstbrook, highly respected business leader Amos Michelson and charismatic community engagement facilitator Dave MacLeod. They shared a belief that powerful online tools could be developed to leverage the power of the internet to resolve challenges by making meaningful group interactions efficient, inclusive and insightful. With this foundation and a growing team of incredible people, Thoughtstream has grown into a trusted organization that supports leaders to engage their communities to learn together.