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The winning pitches at this year’s OPG Ignite competition

 The winning pitches at this year’s OPG Ignite competition

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12/17/2018      

 

This year’s winners of OPG’s Ignite pitch competition wowed the judges with some truly inventive ideas and techniques that promise to help advance the energy industry.

More than 25 startups, small businesses and entrepreneurs competed in the pitch stage of the annual competition on Nov. 2, with six finalists announced in the three OPG categories – Environment and Electrification Development, Inspection and Maintenance, and Darlington Refurbishment. The Spark Centre contest, now in its sixth year, seeks to inspire entrepreneurs and spark ideas for OPG’s operations and the wider energy industry.

This year's OPG Ignite winners were Evercloak, Taiga Robotics, and McMaster University's LIBS for Pressure Tubes team.
This year's OPG Ignite winners were Evercloak, Taiga Robotics, and McMaster University's LIBS for Pressure Tubes team.

​After the finalists made their final boardroom pitches to a panel of judges on Nov. 21, three winners were announced at the Ignite Gala held on Dec. 4. McMaster University’s LIBS for Pressure Tubes team won in the Inspection and Maintenance category; Evercloak was the victor in the Environment and Electrification Development category; and Taiga Robotics took home the prize in the Darlington Refurbishment category.

Each winner received $25,000 in valuable seed funding to help develop their ideas. In addition, each team received mentoring from OPG professionals to help shape their ideas and pitches along the way.

“The experience was fantastic, and it was amazing to win the competition,” said Dmitri Ignakov, Founder and CEO of Taiga Robotics. Ignakov’s firm is working on a virtual reality control system called IRIS that allows an operator to control a robot using their mind. The goal is to allow a person to use the robot avatar to quickly respond to incidents and perform work in various environments.

“I think the part I’m most excited about is that we get to continue working with OPG on developing our proposal further.”

In the Inspection and Maintenance category, McMaster University’s LIBS for Pressure Tubes team won for a tool that can measure hydrogen and deuterium concentrations in CANDU pressure tubes, which eliminates the need for samples to be removed, handled and shipped off-site for analysis.

“Using Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscopy (LIBS), we are able to measure the concentrations in situ,” said Mitchell Kurnell, an engineering research associate at McMaster University. “This would allow for cheaper and faster inspection campaigns with less worker dose.”

Kurnell says the $25,000 will be used to help fund the development of a proof-of-concept prototype.

Finally, in the Environment & Electrification Development category, Evercloak won for its technique to remove tritium from large volumes of water using graphene oxide coatings.

“By engaging with OPG from the beginning, we were able to brainstorm areas where our technology could have the biggest impact,” said Evelyn Allen, CEO of Evercloak. “That information, along with tips and tricks shared during the pitch school, helped us refine our pitch and learn along the way.”