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Five up-and-coming researchers-turned-entrepreneurs were recognized at the sixth annual Mitacs Entrepreneur Awards ceremony on June 10 for their groundbreaking discoveries that are helping to propel Canada’s economy forward.

The awards, presented by Mitacs — a national innovation organization that fosters growth by solving business challenges with research solutions from academic institutions — celebrate startup companies founded by former Mitacs interns, postdoctoral fellows, and training participants who have gone on to lead their respective fields as business owners.

According to Mitacs CEO and Scientific Director John Hepburn, “We’re thrilled that our continued investment in talent, research, and development is translating into more and more Mitacs interns successfully turning their groundbreaking research into dynamic startups.”

2021 Mitacs Entrepreneur Award winners

IC-Listicle-1Outstanding Entrepreneur 

Hossein Kamali, 32, a Mitacs post-doctoral researcher in Mechatronic Systems Engineering at Simon Fraser University and co-founder and CTO of Vancouver-based Autonopia. Kamali’s company invented a first-of-its-kind robot that mimics the behaviour of human window washers — including getting into the nooks and crannies of all types of building facades. The disruptive, patent-pending robot combines artificial intelligence, robotics, mechatronics, and motion control technology in an effort to bring the high-rise window cleaning business into the 21st century and to keep people safe.

IC-Listicle-2Global Impact Entrepreneur 

Jason Deglint, 32, a Mitacs postdoctoral researcher in Engineering at Waterloo University, and co-founder and CEO of Waterloo-based Blue Lion Labs. Deglint was honoured for helping fish farms keep their operations safe from harmful algae blooms. His smart monitoring platform uses machine learning software and a custom digital microscope to automatically identify harmful algae in water. 

IC-Listicle-3Change Agent Entrepreneur 

Negin Ashouri, 28, a Mitacs intern and master’s student in Computer Science at Concordia University, and co-founder and interim CEO of Montréal-based FemTherapeutics. With support from the Montreal-based Centech incubator, Ashouri is disrupting the health care industry with a groundbreaking medical device aimed at elevating women’s quality of life. Her company is the first to develop a made-to-measure, biodegradable, and disposable intravaginal prosthetic for women suffering from pelvic organ prolapse.

IC-Listicle-4Environmental Entrepreneur 

Ulrich Legrand, 30, a former Mitacs post- doctoral researcher in Chemical Engineering at McGill University and co-founder and CTO of Montréal-based Electro Carbon. Legrand was recognized for his company’s breakthrough system, which converts captured CO2 gas into commercial-grade formic acid — a high-value chemical used as a preservative in livestock feed, as well as in the leather tanning and rubber industries. The disruptive technology reduces global greenhouse gas emissions, while bringing to market an industrial-scale system capable of repurposing carbon after it’s successfully removed from the atmosphere.

IC-Listicle-5Environmental Entrepreneur 

Marciel Gaier, 29, a former Mitacs intern, PhD graduate in Advanced Materials Science at Dalhousie University, and co-founder and CTO of Halifax-based Graphite Innovation and Technologies. Gaier is transforming the global shipping industry with the launch of a disruptive paint, which is the first patented technology to use nanoparticles of graphite to achieve a high-performance, sustainable marine coating. The innovative coating system provides a low volatile organic compounds, non-toxic alternative that reduces the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per shipping.

Mitacs thanks its Platinum Partner, Ciena, and its Event Partner, Startup Canada, for supporting the 2021 Entrepreneur Awards. Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada along with all provinces and one territory. For more information, visit

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