Social entrepreneurship pitch contest supports next big idea

The AC’s Andrew Jackson helps select the winners of the Big Ideas Challenge

A company that uses smartphone technology to improve vision care in India was among the big winners at a pitch competition designed to elicit big ideas in health and well-being. EyeCheck, a for-profit vision-care company, won mentorship and access to AC Pathfinder, a market validation platform developed by the Accelerator Centre, at the inaugural Big Ideas Challenge for Health and Wellbeing at the University of Waterloo this week. It uses smartphone technology and proprietary hardware to provide much-needed vision assessment in India with just two pictures.

Tania Del Matto of St. Paul’s GreenHouse, Rachel Friesen of EyeCheck and Andrew Jackson of the Accelerator Centre.

The other winning pitches consisted of ways to address mental health issues among students, heart-friendly meal delivery and meaningful leisure for older adults, and support for breast cancer survivors. They each received the grand prize of a term’s stay in St. Paul’s GreenHouse, the first and only live-in campus-linked accelerator in Canada focused on social innovation and entrepreneurship.

“The Big Ideas Challenge for Health and Wellbeing was intended to encourage undergraduate students to develop innovative interventions, for which the primary purpose is to improve the quality of life of individuals or communities,” said Tania Del Matto, director of GreenHouse.

“We’re proud to partner with St’ Paul’s to encourage social innovation”, added Andrew Jackson, VP, Client Services at the Accelerator Centre. “It’s encouraging to see a group of young entrepreneurs building businesses aimed at addressing difficult challenges.”

About the winners:

• Marlena – Committed to meaningful leisure for older adults of all abilities by creating books to meet the needs of older adults with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other conditions.

• Panic, Anxiety, & Stress, Support (PASS) kit – A first aid kit for mental health and wellbeing to address the increasing incidence of mental health issues among students.

• Heart Helpers – A non-profit, heart-healthy meal delivery program that offers older adults at risk or living with cardiovascular disease a simple, inexpensive way to reduce their risk factors by modifying their diet.

• Node– Offering smart, beautifully designed, custom-fit compression sleeves for breast cancer survivors suffering from lymphedema.

The Faculty of Applied Health Sciences is hosting the program in partnership with St. Paul’s GreenHouse.

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