Grow microgreens, leafy greens, and mushrooms at home with close to zero effort

Grow microgreens, leafy greens, and mushrooms at home with close to zero effort

No green thumb or balcony needed for Tek and Grow’s Smart In-Home garden that makes gardening in urban areas simple and convenient.

Vancouver, B.C, March 10, 2021, Tek and Grow launched its Smart In-Home Garden in December and already has a growing number of pre-sales. Customers are located all over the globe living in major cities within the U.S, Canada, Australia, Singapore, and Vietnam.

The trend of rapid urbanization creates more and more densely populated cities where space for gardening is hard to find. The UN predicts that over 68 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, with approximately 2.5 billion people living in cities (UN, 2018). In the U.S. and Canada, millions of people live in apartments and condominiums with limited gardening space. Urban planners and agricultural leaders have argued that with the growing population, increasing pollution, and rising food prices, cities need to produce food locally (Kheir Al-Kodmany, 2018). Vertical farming is one solution that will help society adjust to urbanization.

“Households in busy cities often have less time and space for gardening. Tek and Grow Smart In-Home Gardens will supply fresh and nutritious vegetables and mushrooms from “farm to table”. My company is able to offer a solution that uses less time, less space, and little to no effort at an efficient cost”

— Phong Thanh Thai, Founder

Tek and Grow has developed an affordable and fully automated garden system that make it effortless to grow plants 365 days a year, even in the busiest urban households. Watering, lighting, and nutrients are all auto-regulated, so all owners have to do is collect the fresh and nutritious harvest when it is ready. Input costs are low since the system is not dependent on smart-soil. Tek and Grow gardens are also suitable for growing cordyceps militaris, a popular mushroom that is often used in Asian dishes. There is currently no other solution on the market that is able to cultivate cordyceps militaris.

The reaction to the pre-sales offer of Tek and Grow’s convenient indoor garden has been overwhelmingly positive. In response to this high demand, Tek and Grow is actively hastening the final R&D phase of the product as to ship its first Smart In-Home Gardens in January 2022.

“I like the design concept of the garden. Besides its utilitarian functions, Tek and Grow’s Smart In-Home Gardens are also environmentally friendly and easy to operate at home according to the technical specifications posted on the website. I am looking forward to it in 2022!”

— Kai-Dong Zhang, Customer

About TT Vancouver Tek and Grow Inc.

Founded in 2019, TT Vancouver Tek and Grow Inc. is focusing on developing Smart In-Home Gardens, which allow busy urban households to grow their favourite fresh and nutritious green and mushrooms in the comfort of their own home with little to no effort.

Tek and Grow Logo

Contact Information

Phong Thanh Thai – Founder & CEO
Email:              [email protected]

Address:    420-744 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC, V6C 1A5, Canada


Furnish your home not the landfill

Furnish your home not the landfill

Plenish provides Vancouver with a circular economy alternative to home furnishings with its furniture subscription service

Vancouver, B.C, December 11, 2020 – Since launching in the summer, Plenish has provided a growing number of customers the ability to update their living spaces in a way that suits their style, needs, and budget.

As more people shift towards nomadic lifestyles by working, studying, and living around the globe, owning furniture has become more complex and inconvenient. There is a growing preference for furniture rental as a no strings attached alternative to ownership. While some furniture companies provide cheaply made “fast furniture” that can be disposed at every move, these pieces lack in quality and character. Even worse is the environmental impact of all the furniture going to landfill before the end of its useful life. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 9.8 million tonnes of furniture is disposed of by U.S. households each year.

As an alternative, Plenish provides beautiful, functional furniture that suits your short or long-term rental needs. Once you choose your furniture and curate what your living space will look like, Plenish assembles the order and delivers the items right to your door. You can then swap or return the furniture at any time and if there is a piece that you love and want to keep you can buy it out.

“Furniture shopping can be stressful, complicated, and expensive. We want to change that in a way that better suits peoples’ lifestyles. ”

– Jian Cheng, Co-Founder

Launching a furniture subscription service during a pandemic has been a challenge but Plenish has put in modified in-home delivery guidelines and added contactless delivery to help protect employees, delivery assistants, clients, and community against COVID-19. In addition, Plenish has enhanced its refurbishment and sanitation procedures to ensure that all surfaces are meticulously disinfected and steam cleaned once they are returned.

Since its launch, the response to Plenish has been overwhelmingly positive. Customers are really enjoying the hassle-free service delivered through its website, flexible terms, and home delivery. Customers can shop online without the risk of being tied to the cost of buying quality furnishings without trying the piece in their homes. Customers have also enjoyed the ability to swap items as their tastes and needs change.

“Awesome service and a great way to get the furniture you want that you can afford right away, plus it gives you the flexibility to change and keep your home with the latest designs. I got a coffee table and leather chair. Their website is easy to use and the customer service is great. I fully recommend this alternative to update your home. “

– Thomas, Plenish Customer

It looks like 2021 will be an exciting year for Plenish, as with the global rollout of COVID-19 immunization programs, people will be able to return to the nomadic lifestyles that we love and work, study, and live overseas.

About Plenish

Plenish, founded in 2019, is a hassle-free and flexible furniture subscription service. We provide a wide selection of finely crafted contemporary furniture pieces for your home. Your pieces will be delivered and assembled at a convenient time for you. Swap or return any items that you feel aren’t working for you or convert all monthly payments into a buyout plan to own the ones you love.

Contact Information

Jian Cheng – Co-founder
Email:              [email protected]
Address:    420-744 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC, V6C 1A5



Empowered’s Learning Platform Receives Prestigious Awards

Empowered’s Learning Platform Receives Prestigious Awards

Our Entrepreneurship learning and workplace platform was just awarded two Silver 2020 LearnX Awards! The first award was for the “Best Shift In Online,” and the second was for “Best Learning and Capability.” A huge congratulations to the entire Empowered Startups Team and our partner, who worked diligently over the past two years to imagine, build and deploy this state-of-the-art online learning opportunity.  

“Our innovative and dynamic learning platform allows us to bring Startup to everyone – including transnational entrepreneurs, secondary students, indigenous communities and many more.  It is especially relevant during these ever-changing times when on-site learning is not always an option, and when entrepreneurship and change-making is front and centre to societal goals, “ says Naheed Henderson – CEO at Empowered Startups Global Startup Accelerator. 

The LearnX Live! Awards are an international awards program that recognizes multiple fields within learning, development and talent management across the corporate, education and public-service sectors worldwide. Each year the Awards uncover incredible projects and solutions that deliver best practice and business value. It is a complete honour to be listed among previous winners to the likes of Pepsi, Volkswagen, Shell, McDonalds and Toyota. 

Innovative Technology to Monitor Concrete Health Receives Two-Year Mitacs Research Grant

Innovative Technology to Monitor Concrete Health Receives Two-Year Mitacs Research Grant

VANCOUVER, Jul.15, 2020 – Canada Concrete MRI Inc. (Concrete MRI), a startup in incubation at Empowered Startups Ltd, is honoured to announce that its collaborative research project with Simon Fraser University (SFU) – School of Mechatronics Systems Engineering – is being partially supported through a $160,000 two-year grant from the Mitacs Accelerate Program. This grant enables Concrete MRI to conduct further research supporting the development of an intelligent device to monitor concrete quality.

About Concrete MRI

Concrete MRI is committed to offering the best solution in monitoring concrete quality in buildings and infrastructure by developing a revolutionary device based on an Intelligent Piezoelectric Transduction system that allows real time monitoring. It provides a time and cost advantage for structural engineers, real estate developers, and civil and infrastructure maintenance services. A key feature of the innovative new Piezoelectric system is that it does not require any direct access to concrete sites.

“Many civil infrastructure projects and buildings globally would benefit from having a state-of-the-art device that can identify anomalies in concrete on a real-time basis. This will significantly reduce costs and workforce requirements to monitor concrete quality. We have been searching for a suitable partner to help design and improve this idea. Fortunately, we have found this valuable partner at Simon Fraser University – School of Mechatronics Systems Engineering. I believe that through collaboration with SFU’s School of Mechatronics System Engineering and Mitacs, we will be able to reach our fullest potential to develop an innovative solution to the global concrete monitoring problem.” – Hoang Nhan Nguyen, CEO/Founder Concrete MRI.

“This project is a great example of utilizing modern technology to develop smart civil structures that outperform existing ones in terms of safety and performance. Current civil structures are mainly passive, requiring regular manual inspections that can miss certain catastrophic structural failures. Concrete MRI utilizes advanced signal processing and intelligent algorithms (machine intelligence), along with reliable sensor and actuator technologies, to develop innovative civil structures that are empowered with real-time self-monitoring and fault diagnostics features.” – Dr. Mehrdad Moallem, Professor, SFU – School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering

The research will create an intelligent monitoring device that is expected to have a significant role in improving the safety of future building structures and infrastructure systems.

Concrete has the highest consumption rate among all manufactured materials, which is even higher than any other artificial content. Concrete is the material of choice for many critical civil structures and infrastructure, such as dams, bridges, tunnels, skyscrapers, hospitals, schools, public buildings and concrete-based transport infrastructure, due to its affordability, flexibility and energy efficiency. Many desirable properties of concrete, such as the ability to cast into virtually any shape or form, allow design liberty and almost infinite variety of applications, low production cost, relatively high compression strength. It is a crucial material widely used in the civil/ infrastructure field; therefore, control of its quality is highly critical.

However, it is not a simple job to check the concrete quality at the joint areas between beams, columns, slabs, and foundation areas backfilled by soil. Furthermore, in various situations, one would like to check the concrete quality in foundation areas after disasters happen, for example, after earthquakes or fires. Monitoring concrete quality in real-time is a significant concern.

The project goal is to develop a smart concrete testing mechanism, based on piezoelectric transduction devices embedded in critical points in a concrete structure at the time of construction. Another attractive feature of the innovation will be its capability to transfer all data to an end-user in real-time through Wi-Fi, 3G/4G signals. Therefore, the user is able to check concrete quality in real-time, anytime, and anywhere, without the requirement of direct access to the construction site area.

About Concrete MRI

Concrete MRI, founded in 2019, is a pioneer for technical innovation in concrete quality monitoring for civil, industrial and infrastructure systems. We create and develop smart, cost-effective, and human power-saving solutions to monitor concrete quality. We imagine and build technology to enable users to monitor concrete quality in real-time anytime, anywhere, without the requirement of direct access to the construction site area.

Contact information

CEO/Founder: Hoang Nhan Nguyen (Jerome)

Email:  [email protected], [email protected]

Address:  Suite 420-744 West Hastings Street, Vancouver, BC, V6C 1A5, Canada

BMTT Fresh Technologies Inc. Receives Two-Year Mitacs Research Grant

BMTT Fresh Technologies Inc. Receives Two-Year Mitacs Research Grant

BMTT Fresh Technologies Inc. receives two-year Mitacs research grant to develop packaging for waterless shipping of shrimp

 VANCOUVER, Jun. 1, 2020 – BMTT Fresh Technologies Inc. (BMTT Fresh), a startup in incubation at Empowered Startups Ltd, is excited to announce a collaborative research project with University of British Columbia’s (UBC) Faculty of Land and Food Systems has been approved for a $120,000 two-year grant from the Mitacs Accelerate Program. This grant enables BMTT Fresh to conduct further research in developing its cold anesthetization and packaging technologies for waterless transportation of commercial live shrimp.

About the BMTT Fresh / UBC partnership

BMTT Fresh ensures consumers have access to fresh and healthy seafood by providing commercial processing and packaging solutions for the seafood industry. It is currently focused on developing an effective method for transporting live shrimp in a waterless environment without significant losses or the use of chemicals and preservatives in processing.

BMTT Fresh is excited to work in collaboration with the Food Science Group within the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia (UBC). UBC’s Food Science program is internationally recognized for its valuable collaborations in research related to process science, safety, and toxicology.

“Transporting live shrimp in waterless environments is still a relatively new practice in need of innovation. We have been searching for the right partner to take a science-based approach in improving our current processes. Fortunately, we have found that partner in UBC’s Food Science Group. With the skilled-researchers and modern facilities at UBC, we can work together to find solutions that will enable us to help our customers get fresh seafood at an affordable price.” – Hoang Phuong Dang, CEO of BMTT Fresh Technologies Inc.

The faculty within the UBC Food Science group is known for taking an interdisciplinary approach in addressing research problems related to a sustainable and safe food supply. BMTT Fresh sees this as an important value in developing cost-effective practical solutions.

“The outcome of this project has the potential to significantly improve the value of seafood products as well as improve the quality and shelf-life of shrimp products. By developing a new packaging technique, we aim to reduce the transportation cost of shrimp globally. Working with BMTT Fresh also enables the researchers and students in my lab to gain experiences in aquatic food industry, which has been extensively growing in Canada in the recent years.” – Dr. Xiaonan Lu, Associate Professor, Food Science; UBC Faculty of Land and Food Systems

Research will result in a more financially and environmentally sustainable seafood industry

By improving survival rates of transporting live shrimp without the costs from shipping water weight, the seafood industry will be better able to profitably meet the demand for live seafood and increase the range for which it can be shipped. This will improve profitability for the industry while simultaneously providing consumers with new choices and affordable prices.

In addition, there is an opportunity for a more sustainable fishing industry as result of less waste from improved survival rates and fewer CO2 emissions from a reduction in shipping water weight.

This applied research will serve as a bridge between lab research and industry practices. With the end benefits being a more profitable industry for small producers, lower prices for consumers, and a healthier planet.

Current solutions to transport live shrimp limit market accessibility and have low survival rates

There is a large demand for live shrimp. Typically, it sells at a premium of $5 – $15 per kilogram higher than its frozen equivalents1.

However, the present method of transporting live shrimp limits market accessibility as after 15 hours in transport a very low percentage survive. Furthermore, there is large variability in the survival rate, which makes it difficult for growers, traders, and buyers to determine order quantities. Overall, this dramatically increases industry costs and results in unmet consumer demand and high prices.

By developing a low-cost method for transporting live shrimp that still ensures high survival rates, producers will be able to expand into new markets and more consumers will be able to afford live shrimp.

About BMTT Fresh Technologies Inc.

BMTT Fresh Technologies, founded in 2019, is an innovator in processing and packaging technologies for the seafood industry. We develop cost-effective and practical solutions for the commercial shipping of seafood that benefit the whole supply chain from fishers and farmers to consumers.

Contact Information

Hoang Phuong Dang – CEO

Email:              [email protected]

Address:          420-744 West Hastings Street

Vancouver, BC, V6C 1A5



  1. Salin, K.R. (2005). Live transportation of Macrobrachium rosenbergii (De Man) in chilled sawdust. Aquaculture Research36, 300-310.
  2. Seafood Watch. (2018). Coldwater shrimp.
  3. S. International Trade Commission. (2017). Frozen warmwater shrimp from Brazil, China, India, Thailand, and Vietnam.
  4. The Voice of Vietnam. (2018). Vietnam dominates Canada’s shrimp market.
  5. (2015). Responsible sourcing guide: marine warm water prawn.

(Photo by Arina Ertman on Unsplash)