Top students of SLC Innovate and Elevate to attend European Innovation Academy

Top students of SLC Innovate and Elevate to attend European Innovation Academy
Left to right: Breanne Johnson, Andrea Fernanda Venegas Espina, Mike Collins, Elisse Aislene Aban, Brandon Morales Casimiro, Krystal O’Neill, Shivani Shivaji Lade, Elli Parsons, Thomas Lantz, Bhargesh Patel, Steve Janssens. (Photo : SLC)

The SLC Centre for Innovation is pleased to announce the winners of the Innovate and Elevate – Student Entrepreneurship Challenge who will attend the European Innovation Academy in Porto, Portugal in July 2024, donated by SLC Global Partnerships and Innovation and Business Engagement departments. The three-week program will bring students together with peers from around the globe to work together on social innovation and entrepreneurial business ideas.    


The Innovate and Elevate program paired sixteen competitive student participants with entrepreneurial mentors in Kingston, Cornwall, and Brockville in a three-month co-curricular program. The program kicked off with an in-person community entrepreneurial panel and networking event, and included regular in-person workshops, guest speakers, and facilitators throughout. Participants moved through a process of defining and validating entrepreneurial ideas and solutions, moving on to articulate them in a Business Model Canvas and pitch competition.  

Semi-final pitches took place in late-March in Kingston, and eight students were selected by a panel of faculty judges to move on to the finals on the evening of Wednesday, April 3.  

Final pitch judges included Craig Desjardin, Director, Strategy, Innovation and Partnerships with City of Kingston, Melissa Eapen of Improbable Escapes, Judith Pineault, CEPA and Business Advisor, Aba Mortley, Owner of Cher Mere, and Rob Tamblyn, Business Development Manager with Kingston Economic Development Corporation. The evening closed out with an awards presentation and networking event. 

The winning students are: 
 First prize: Thomas Lantz of Orange Glove Waste Management who demonstrated their innovative solution to help make waste collection more accessible in the Six Nations of the Grand River.  
Second prize: Krystal O’Neill, creator of The Poo Pouch, a convenient canine cleanup tool.   
Third prize: Elli Parsons of EGL Graphics for customizable event swag.  

The judges had a difficult choice ahead of them with such strong ideas presented throughout the night. In the end the three victors were chosen.  

“I’m so proud of every student that participated in this program! The first of its kind at SLC, the students took a chance, worked around their core course requirements, work and home life demands, and proved how college innovation can take on many forms. It was a transformational experience for many, including myself. It was a pleasure to help the students pursue their dreams of entrepreneurship and I look forward to the next cohort which we’ll be opening applications for in the fall,” said Breanne Johnson, Associate Director of the Centre for Innovation at SLC. 

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