On December 1, 2021, we at Spring Activator hosted the Finale of our 3rd annual British Columbia Impact Investor Challenge, an investor and entrepreneur training program designed to accelerate impactful innovation.
This particular Impact Investor Challenge Finale marked a number of milestones and firsts. The program, which has thus far run five times with various regional focuses, was won for the fifth time straight by a woman-led venture.
Selecting the winner from the five incredible purpose-driven startups was by no means an easy task for the graduating impact investor cohort. This is where the biggest surprise of the evening took place—for the first time ever, the newly trained impact investors decided to support not one but two impact ventures! In addition to choosing Viridis Research as the recipient of the $100,000 grand prize, the cohort rallied to also collectively award a special investment to Brave Technology Coop, the first-ever coop to be selected into the program.
For Viridis Research, a cleantech company working on preventing microplastics from entering our water systems, the investment will be catalytic to getting their prototype to market and to drive strategic partnerships. Brave Technology Coop, on the other hand, is a company focused on preventing accidental overdose deaths, and the funding will help them to scale their production and geographic reach.
Learn more about the problems our latest Impact Investor Challenge winners are focusing on solving along with the impact being made below!
Viridis Research Inc.
Clean water is crucial not only to human health, but also to that of the natural ecosystems that sustain life on this planet. However, it is projected that by 2050, the seas will contain more plastic than fish.
Microplastics are a significant contributor to this growing problem. Already, humans ingest over 50 thousand microplastic particles per year. The chemicals released from these cause cancer, infertility, and other genetic mutations. Microplastic contamination also disrupts ecosystem services, negatively impacting revenue generation for millions of people worldwide and resulting in annual losses of at least $8 billion per year.
60% of microplastics found in our oceans come from greywater released from laundry and textile washing facilities. The synthetic fibres that are the source of this pollution also represent the main types of plastic polymers found within our bodies. This is where Viridis Research has chosen to begin their work towards building a world where clean water is accessible by all.
Fuelled by globally renowned expertise and inspired by personal experience, a love for water, and a belief in equitable access to fundamental resources, Viridis Research was founded to help ensure communities around the world can get safe, clean and sufficient water through electrochemical water treatment technologies.
Viridis has developed a patented technology—VEOX—to capture and destroy plastic microfibres at the primary source where they break off from synthetic materials and into laundry water when being washed. The VEOX device easily connects to washing machines, captures microplastic particles from the water, and degrades them into safe, non-toxic atmospheric gases. All of this is done with one device without the use of any disposable plastic cartridges or filters. The device is easy to use, requires zero maintenance, and uses no chemicals in the process, and is self-regenerating.
VEOX removes 99% of microplastics smaller than 4mm from greywater upon treatment. With regulations arriving in North America and Europe to eliminate the release of synthetic fibres from washing machines, the time for this technology is now! In North America alone, 100M+ washing machines will need to be retrofitted.
Viridis is projecting that by 2030, the VEOX system will prevent 130 tons of microplastics from entering the oceans, and it will also prevent the use of 350 tons of plastic cartridges and the emission of 2100 tons of CO₂. What’s more, the filtration system also has the potential to address the presence of bacteria, viruses, and persistent organics that contaminate water.
As a company, Viridis Research is committed not only to making a positive impact on the environment and health through its products, but also on communities, responsible urban development, and inequality reduction through how they build their team and develop partnerships towards fulfilling their mission.
Brave Technology Coop
Overdose is the largest public health crisis in North America where in 2020 alone over 100,000 people died of accidental overdose. After COVID-19, it is the most prevalent cause of unnatural death.
Where do most overdose deaths occur? In Vancouver, British Columbia, Brave found that 50% of overdose deaths happen in supportive housing. Not only is addressing an overdose death traumatic for those involved, it also incurs economic costs related to compulsory leave for staff and legal fees related to long-term staff turnover in supportive housing facilities.
While an overdose reversal drug—Naloxone—exists, it is not effective if it cannot be administered in time. Additionally, existing solutions such as physically supervised consumption services and drug use prevention have not proven effective for 99% of people at risk. Detection is therefore the missing tool in the fight against overdose death.
To solve this problem, Brave has spent over four years engaging deeply with communities most impacted by overdose: individuals who use drugs, those who respond to overdose, and those who serve individuals at risk of overdose.
Founded on principles of design justice to bring the right overdose detection tools to the right people, Brave Technology Coop is on a mission to prevent accidental overdose death and envisions a word where every overdose is reversed and their tools are available to individuals who use drugs and the various entities that serve them. Brave designs interventions that detect overdose so that anyone using drugs anywhere can be confident that if they overdose, someone will come to revive them.
Consisting of the Brave App, Brave Button, and Brave Sensor, the tools are technological versions of existing systems of care. They allow drug users access to crucial communication channels and they assist supportive housing facilities in detecting lack of motion in spaces where overdose deaths frequently. All of the tools are free to the end user and cheap to install and integrate, ensuring maximum reach and scale.
To date in British Columbia, Canada, Brave has detected and reversed 107 overdoses. 4,300+ calls have been made via the Brave App, there have been 3,500+ Brave Button presses, and 174 Brave Sensors have been sold.
With 39,000 organizations serving nearly 1 million individuals suffering from homelessness across the United States and Canada each year, Brave is poised to have a significant, positive impact on this public health crisis, also reducing personal and financial costs associated with overdose deaths.
Proven success in British Columbia means Brave’s system of technologies will soon be seen in England and Scotland and further investment can help fuel expansion in other cities across Canada and the United States.
Help us share the news through our press release.
While not all companies selected into the venture cohort of an Impact Investor Challenge receive investment directly through the program, they are all winners in their own right, progressing immensely through the rigorous due diligence process with the investor cohort and often securing investment soon after program completion. A big congratulations also go to Cascadia Seaweed, Difinity Solutions, and Nyoka Design Labs who delivered fantastic pitches at the Finale. We can’t wait to see your impact grow.
A large thank you also goes to our program partners, sponsors, and supporters—DLA Piper, INK LLP, Genus Capital Management, Tandem Innovation Group, Active Impact Investments, and Karl Jung Financial Services—without which the Impact Investor Challenge would not be possible!
Interested in learning more about our Impact Investor Challenge programming or in applying for a future intake?