Innovation awards showcase Nanaimo businesses

Nanaimo boasts plenty of technology trailblazers and forward-thinking entrepreneurs.

Nanaimo boasts plenty of technology trailblazers and forward-thinking entrepreneurs.

Of the 33 nominees for the Mid-Island Science Technology and Innovation Council’s Innovation Awards, announced last week, 11 are Harbour City businesses.

Nominees manufacture products ranging from underwater inspection-class remotely operated vehicles to a non-toxic treatment for lice and pre-fabricated micro homes that have tiny physical and environmental footprints.

“There’s a lot of [local] businesses that are competitive in world markets,” said Paris Gaudet, MISTIC executive director. “But the sector that we work with is very much a hidden sector.”

The goal of the annual awards event – set for Nov. 2 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre – is to shine a light on innovative, science and technology-based companies from Malahat North to the tip of the Island, the Sunshine Coast and the Gulf Islands, recognizing their contribution to the local economy.

Many of these companies have less than five employees and some have no visible storefront, so their names are not necessarily familiar to people, said Gaudet.

“It’s really showcasing – or demystifying – what science and technology are,” she said. “People don’t know about what’s going on in their backyard. It gets people thinking about that culture of innovation.”

The awards were created in 2006. This year’s 12 categories are: technology leadership, advanced manufacturing, agri foods, digital media, emerging product, environmental excellence, excellence in innovation, information technology, innovative start-up of the year, value added product and a new category – young innovator award.

Gaudet said the young innovator award was added this year to encourage youth to look at careers in science and technology and show them all the unique, innovative opportunities there are in these fields.

Nanaimo nominees are: Seamor Marine Ltd., iDus Controls, Qmata Technologies Inc., Ace Line Hauler, Nit Nannies, Inuktun Services Ltd., Resonance Software, Twelve Cubed, Island Daily Deals, ABC Precast & Ready Mix Ltd., and Riley Richters (young innovator).

Winners will be announced Nov. 2 at the ceremony.

Before the awards, MISTIC will run a tradeshow from 8 a.m to 2 p.m., also at the VICC, showcasing the innovative products and services manufactured on the Island.

Admission to the tradeshow is free. Tickets for the Innovation Awards are $95 and can be purchased online at www.mistic.ca.