Liz DeMattia

Nanaimo science society vying for social enterprise award

NANAIMO – Event will award more than $50,000 in cash and in-kind support to one of three organizations.

The Nanaimo Science and Sustainability Society is looking to emerge victorious in a Dragon’s Den-style competition Wednesday (May 20).

The society, which aims to inspire children to take an interest in science and sustainability, is one of three social enterprise finalists from Vancouver Island selected to take part in the 2015 Social Enterprise Catalyst Gala. According to Liz DeMattia, society executive director, it stands to win cash and in-kind support totalling $50,000-plus, if successful.

DeMattia said a coach, Jill Doucette, has been provided to assist with working on the pitch. She didn’t want to give away too much information on the presentation and how the money would be spent if the society won, as the two are related.

She said the presentation relates to “stepping stones” to get to the society’s long-term goal of a science centre in Nanaimo. It currently operates a science studio at Departure Bay Elementary School.

“I will discuss where [the society] started from, where we are currently and where we hope to go, with their help,” DeMattia said.

CBC show Dragon’s Den sees entrepreneurs making a proposal to a panel of judges in the hopes of securing money and they can be subject to intense scrutiny. DeMattia is hopeful she will be able stand firm under cross-examination.

“Our pitch coach has been working with us on how to answer questions and be ready for the hard questions of the judges, so hopefully I’m prepared … My understanding is that it will be similar to Dragon’s Den, but they might not be as mean,” said DeMattia.

The society will be up against Skookum Food and Coffee and Tofino Ucluelet Culinary Guild. Michelle Stilwell, B.C. Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation, will be among the adjudicators.

The gala will be held at Nanaimo’s Port Theatre. For information on attending the event, please visit

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