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The Three Coolest Companies Who Pitched at BCTechSummit’s Innovation Showcase

One of the most interesting things in the lineup for day one at #BCTECHSummit was IBM’s Innovation Showcase. All I was told in the pre-show itinerary was “Rapid Fire pitches by pre-selected BC companies representing each of the regions. The audience will use mobile voting to determine the winner.”

Wait. Winner of what? I was intrigued.

Turns out, they would be the winners of $5,000 cash and $120,000 in tools, both provided by IBM. Woah! Now that’s something worth the effort of a four-minute pitch, and a few hours slogging over every inch of your short slideshow.

The group of pitchers ranged in fields, but included in them were the likes of idea innovators and sharers at Thoughtexchange, Quantum Computer engineers from D-Wave, Robotics professionals at Inuktun, and Zymeworks whom are progressing the engineering of protein-based drugs for cancer treatment.

After a short introduction by IBM where a man spoke with the absolute least amount of enthusiasm in regards to artificial intelligence anyone could neglect to muster, each company sent a representative onstage to pitch their business in four minutes at the #BCTechSummit in downtown Vancouver.

Here are my top three, in no particular order.

General Fusion

This brilliant BC company is looking for the solution to the idea of “clean energy,” one which has eluded the energy sector on a full-scale since the inception of power.

The bright minds at General Fusion have brushed off the normal attempts at other forms of clean energy, instead “looking to nature for inspiration on energy science, namely, the Sun,” using top-tier scientists to create Magnified Target Fusion.

Neurio

A electrical intelligence and innovation company that is looking to change the way we (as consumers of electricity) procure information that will both help us find better ways to save money on our bills, and make life-changing and world-changing decisions based on our consumption of modern in-home electricity.

Neurio makes a node, that when plugged into your house, can gather information on all of your appliances/electronics.

Cloudhead Games

What a wonderful place for tech and gaming we live in! One where, during a tech summit, a video game company comprised of a few people from the attic of a home in Victoria BC could stand among the peak of innovations. Granted, they’re not helping cure cancer….yet. But I didn’t pick this list out of pure advancement in human health, although the brilliance in health tech at the summit is amazing.

Cloudhead has taken the design/interaction of VR and done two major things with it: one, they designed tools in-house that support players movements, making for almost 0% chance of motion sickness (which is a huge problem in VR development); and two, taking their technical innovations and applying them to other entertainment industries.

Chief among the processes changed by Cloudhead is motion-capture acting. Whether for video games, or animated movies, actors strapped with bulbs and surrounded by cameras are forced to imagine their environment, until now. Cloudhead looks to put actors directly in the scenes at which they are to virtual exist. Immediately my mind did a funny thing where it repeated the phrase “how did no one else think of this” over and over again.

When all was said and done, the votes were “literally a few percentages different” and much to the joyous quips of Dave MacLeod, the CEO of Thoughtexchange accepted their prize in the form of an over-sized cheque as winners of the Innovation Showcase.

Thoughtexchange is using innovation to adapt the way we share and curate opinions. Unlike conventional communication tools used to provide spaces for groups to interact, Thoughtexchange has an adaptive solution that can be scaled to groups as big as 50,000. People share their opinions, as usual, and have the opinions of others at their disposal, as usual. Except in order to facilitate properly adaptive decision making, each user gets a set amount of stars, which they use to rate other people’s opinions. Which leads to the quickly accessible opinions within large groups being those of greater worth, as voted on by other people with opinions!

What Thoughtexchange have found out is that narrow single-track thinking (which the majority of us are guilty of) is often changed when people read the valuable opinions of others. In many cases, it’s as easy as seeing things from another point-of-view. In others, it’s a matter of not ever thinking of subject X like others might.

So given more information and other’s opinion, people make more educated decisions. MacLeod aptly illustrated this concept with only two photos. One of people’s vote on school district spending, where about 50% wanted a new football field, and the other half did not. After putting the same group through Thoughtexchange, the group FOR the stadium shrunk by nearly half, as those against must have put forth thought provoking ideas/opinions. This left those looking to put the people’s voice into action, with a clearer winner.

Best of luck to all those who took part in the showcase, as their relentless pursuit of technological innovation will most likely see no end.

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