Meet the Final Five
We are happy to announce our Five Finalists for the Muskoka 4.0 Competition.
Making student life easier
An essential part of student life, be it in high school or post-secondary studies, is connecting with classmates to share ideas, notes, and study materials.
Making that process easy and efficient to do from anywhere in the world is what Anthony Giugno set out to do with the B4Grad software.
“You can think of us as a social network for the high schoolers and undergrads out there,” says Anthony. “We started building B4Grad to make it easier to share study materials, to create them and to organize them all in one place.”
Anthony and his brother Joseph, a fellow software developer, co-founded the company.
An annual subscription to B4Grad costs $19.99.
“Students typically spend $100 to $200 on notepads, a planner – which can be between $25 and $30 – flashcard decks, and more,” says Anthony. “You can get all that for only $19.99 annually. We’re part of the planning solution.”
B4Grad is soon launching the Marketplace space in their app, which will allow students to sell their content. The idea is to incentivize high-performing students to share their study materials while making a little extra money.
B4Grad is only available on Apple devices – for now. Anthony says the Android version of their app is coming soon. A future version will also integrate with LMS (Learning Management Software) platforms such as Google Classroom, so that students can log in to Google Classroom from within the B4Grad app and import their content.
Winning the $250,000 Muskoka 4.0 prize would allow B4Grad to expand into the national, U.S., and global markets. The company also has big plans for the Muskoka market.
“We want to launch a version of B4Grad just for schools in Muskoka,” says Anthony. “We would give the app totally free, no subscription required for all students in the area indefinitely: it’s not just one year. They become our test market for now and in the future.”
Digital front door aims to improve emergency rooms
It’s a well-known fact that trips to the emergency room can result in significant hours spent waiting to be admitted, then waiting to see a doctor.
But, with a little bit of modernization in the way emergency rooms are run, the process can be much more efficient, says Ron Galaev of EmergConnect.
Ron and his team are creating the first ever centralized digital platform for patient registration, clinical triage, individualized wait time predictions and ideal care environment redirection.
“We’re creating the first ever digital front door where patients can access same-day care,” says Ron.
“We’re building a platform that lets patients – both at home and in the emergency room – put in their triage information and register on their phone and get a prediction of their individualized wait time.”
The company was founded in August 2020 by Ron and a team of primarily tech professionals who bring expertise in different areas. As well, they have been working closely with clinical experts in the healthcare field.
The initial launch and test of EmergConnect’s product will soon take place through a handful of healthcare providers in Ontario.
Ron says Muskoka-Algonquin healthcare is a prime location for their product. He says a unique value proposition exists in areas with lower population density because people tend to live further away from their emergency department.
“By moving the very first step of triage intake – which is the bottleneck for most hospitals – upstream, we can actually streamline the healthcare process for organizations like Muskoka-Algonquin Healthcare,” says Ron.
Should EmergConnect be chosen as the Muskoka 4.0 winner, they would be able to expand quickly throughout Ontario and Canada, as well as into the U.S.
“It would also speed up the process of expanding our systems to include a web version for people who don’t want to download mobile applications,” says Ron. “Really, it would help get us into as many hospitals and help as many people as we can as well as moving the product along.”
Helping make cities smart
Ontario municipalities spend millions of dollars each year collecting and analyzing data to help prioritize infrastructure investments, policies, and other operations.
Information about infrastructure – which includes roads, buildings, bridges, vehicles, and more – is often collected through manual audits and assessments done by municipal staff or contracted service providers.
IRIS R&D Group is striving to replace that slow and inefficient manual process.
IRIS R&D Group Inc. co-founder and CEO Emil Sylvester Ramos explains that the company provides AI SaaS (artificial intelligence, software as a service) services to municipalities, infrastructure owners and operators. A plug-and-play device called the irisGO detects, measures and reports on infrastructure of all kinds. It can collect pavement assessments, right-of-way data, regulatory compliance data, and more.
“The irisGO solution is placed within a municipality’s existing vehicle fleet or on static assets such as light poles, where it uses AI & Machine Vision to automatically detect objects of interest and its attributes, including type, material, class, size, quantity, and other measurements that feed into reporting and analytics dashboards,” says Emil. “This automated solution produces significantly better results at a substantially lower cost than current standard processes used by cities and municipalities today – which rely on highly manual audits and curbside inspections.”
Emil and CAO David Keaney co-founded IRIS R&D Group Inc. in 2018. They see the need for rural economies and infrastructure to be prepared for the future and plan accordingly. He notes that the pandemic highlighted the need for sustainable, practical technologies that help build better, more resilient infrastructure and proactively maintain existing assets.
A finalist in the Muskoka 4.0 contest, Emil says should they be selected as the winner, the $250,000 prize funding would be put to good use – including potential investment in a Muskoka office and staffing, expansion of their services, and more.
“The District of Muskoka is responsible for 730 kilometers of roads, 52 bridges and thousands of right-of-way assets not including infrastructure owned and operated by the individual townships,” says Emil.
“The District and its six townships represent a unique opportunity for IRIS to measure the economic, social and environmental impact of our solution in rural and diverse environmental settings.”
Ask almost anyone if they want to save money on fuel while lowering their environmental impact and their answer will likely be, “where do I sign up?”
One business has been successful in achieving this goal by using their own Hydrogen Converter to turn existing cars and trucks into hydrogen hybrids.
Teznic Inc. co-founder Tom Ross explains that the fuel in our vehicles contains hydrocarbons. “We add small amounts of hydrogen and oxygen to the combustion process, allowing existing engines to get more energy out of the fuel they are using,” he says.
The system is designed to retrofit engines. “We are a solution for existing vehicles today, to lower their fuel cost and environmental impact.”
While the technology has been around for over 15 years, Teznic has made significant improvements to the technology since it was established in 2016.
Transport drivers who converted to hydrogen hybrids saw a return on investment within one year from fuel savings alone. Teznic’s current client list includes the City of Kawartha Lakes, which has been converting its fleet vehicles.
Now, Teznic is a finalist in this year’s Muskoka 4.0 Start Up competition. The winner will receive a $250,000 investment and other supports to help them set up operations in Muskoka.
Along with Ross, who is an entrepreneur and community-builder, Teznic’s partners include John Fiorini, who holds a master’s degree in chemical engineering and is a renowned Six Sigma Black Belt Engineer, as well as Alex Logie, who brings 30 years of experience in the financial services sector and expertise as a leader in business.
Teznic’s ability to reduce the environmental impact of fuel consumption while simultaneously providing cost savings has earned them a place among the Muskoka 4.0 finalists.
Tom says with a team that is passionate for the environment, having a location in Muskoka is ideal as it allows them to live and work around nature.
Should they win the competition and the $250,000 in prize funding, Teznic plans to scale up their manufacturing by establishing a location in Muskoka.
“Our facility can only handle current demand and by establishing a small manufacturing facility in Muskoka we can increase our manufacturing capacity to 100 systems per month,” says Tom. “It will also allow us to start a marketing campaign and to brand our hydrogen converters with a wrap for better visibility. It will allow us to convert more city vehicles such as snowplows and buses, like we have done for the City of Kawartha Lakes.”
Feel the Wrmth
There are few things in life more relaxing than sitting back in a Muskoka chair on a dock or deck with your favourite beverage and just taking in the scenery.
But one company strives to make the experience even better with heated outdoor Muskoka chairs. Aptly named, Wrmth has the goal of extending the enjoyment of sitting outdoors to include cooler temperatures.
Wrmth is a finalist in this year’s Muskoka 4.0 Start Up competition. The winner will receive a $250,000 investment and other supports to help them set up operations in Muskoka.
While the Ontario company’s flagship product is a Muskoka chair, they plan to expand and create other heated outdoor furniture.
Sally Daub, who along with partner John Pomeroy started Wrmth around a year ago, says they started the business when they saw an opportunity to offer a new line of outdoor furniture.
The lifestyle brand is geared towards filling a void for consumers through quality design, materials and manufacturing.
“We saw an opportunity using automation and robotics to bring scaled fabrication back to Ontario to target one of the largest consumer markets with an innovation that solves a well-known problem: how to provide comfortable outdoor seating year-round,” says Sally.
With a commitment to building and selling 100% Canadian-made products, Wrmth feels Muskoka is the ideal place to operate their business.
Sally says the reasons the region would make a good home for their company include access to skilled personnel through training programs with northern based colleges and universities; partnership opportunities with local government support programs; access to land to expand; and Muskoka’s worldwide brand for beauty and the outdoors.
Sally says Wrmth’s innovative technology and products would get a great boost should they be chosen by the judges.
“Wrmth is investing heavily in advanced automated and robotic fabrication, as well as sales and marketing for our initial flagship product – the heated outdoor Muskoka chair.”