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)

Empowered Startups Welcomes Gokhan Basaran to the Team

Empowered Startups Welcomes Gokhan Basaran to the Team

We are excited to welcome Gokhan Basaran to the Empowered Startups team as a Startup Leader. Gokhan brings with him a wealth of experience as an entrepreneur, a startup mentor and advisor, as well as international business development, and sales and marketing leadership. “Gokhan’s diverse experience in international markets will add great value to our entrepreneurs building Canadian businesses to compete on a global scale,” says Chris Lennon Empowered Startups’ President and General Counsel.

Gökhan is a marketing leader with 11+ years’ international business development and product marketing experience managing portfolios ranging from $15-$60M and leading sales and marketing teams. He is known for developing go-to-market and expansion strategies with hands-on experience in building and launching new brands in international markets. He has a proven track record as a brand builder and product marketer.

Before his role at Empowered Startups, he worked as a venture advisor at the Creative Destruction Lab – West in Vancouver. He mentored various scale-up companies on business development and establishing go-to-market strategies. He has over 11 years of experience in the electrical home appliances industry, where he held several roles in different business units like sales, marketing, brand and product management.

Gokhan is a mechanical engineer and has an MBA degree from the UBC Sauder School of Business.


Empowered Startups Partners with LetzConnect to Introduce Online Entrepreneurial Learning in India

Empowered Startups Partners with LetzConnect to Introduce Online Entrepreneurial Learning in India

LetzConnect Technologies, based in Chennai, India, has recently announced its association with Empowered Startups, a global innovative business incubator headquartered in Canada, with presence in several countries across North America, Europe, and Asia. Their partnership will bring an international online program in Entrepreneurial Learning for university and college students in India. The program is 100% digitally delivered with online mentorship and learning activities. It provides an advanced and innovative approach to entrepreneurial learning that students can use to understand, participate and excel in setting up a business venture in a globalized world.

Using this anytime, anywhere online learning program, students will be guided through transforming an idea into a market ready business. Along this guided entrepreneurial journey, students will build skills, connections and mind-shifts that enable them to remain relevant to the future, become the change makers of tomorrow, build remarkable personal profiles, and become job creators instead of job seekers.

While India is considered today as the land of rising entrepreneurship, the youth of the country is yet to be empowered with the tools and techniques to validate their ideas in a zero-risk sandbox environment before launching a venture. The partnership will allow LetzConnect to extend entrepreneurial learning across its expansive network of college and university students, enhancing the students’ ability to launch viable business ventures. LetzConnect would hold distribution rights via its flagship platform and help reach this unique program out to academic institutions in the country.

Speaking on the partnership, Naheed Henderson, CEO of Global Startup Accelerator program at Empowered Startups, commented, “As a leader in global Startup incubation, we are excited to partner with LetzConnect to bring our state-of-the-art and globally recognized Young Empowered Startuppers (YES) entrepreneurial learning program to students in India and beyond. Working together, our online learning innovations will bring immediate and globally relevant opportunities to students in India.”

“LetzConnect focuses on digitizing college and university campuses, providing students with a platform for academic learning and advanced skill development towards enhanced employability outcomes. With the Empowered Startup partnership, our students can now go through great upskilling opportunities in entrepreneurial development, following which there will be a world of possibilities awaiting them.”, says Praveen Ganesh, Founder and CEO, LetzConnect Technologies.

Research Project Between Solar Adventure Ltd. and the University of British Columbia Receives Two-Year Grant

Research Project Between Solar Adventure Ltd. and the University of British Columbia Receives Two-Year Grant

VANCOUVER, Feb. 21, 2020 – Solar Adventure Ltd, a startup in incubation at Empowered Startups, has initiated a solar research project with the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) School of Engineering located on the Okanagan campus. The purpose of this research project is to develop form-compliant solar modules that can be fabricated onto any type of underlying structure and still convert the Sun’s rays into useable electricity. When realized, Solar Adventure envisions that their products will find use in the commercial, industrial, and residential sectors. The two-year research project is being partially supported through a $90,000 Mitacs Accelerate grant.

About the Solar Adventure / UBC partnership

Ms. Thi Xuan Bui, CEO of Solar Adventure Ltd, has identified solar energy as a sustainable means to supply future energy demands. She has noted that there are many places in which traditional rooftop solar systems are inadequate and ineffective, such as in the increasingly urban developing world. In order to further the interests of a solar future, Ms. Bui has committed Solar Adventure Ltd. to develop a new generation of solar products that are form-compliant with whatever underlying structure that is available. Initially, Solar Adventure is developing solar blinds that can be easily installed on any window with other form-compliant solar products in the pipeline for development.

“I believe that the cooperation with researchers from the University of British Columbia’s School of Engineering, aided with funding from Mitacs, will help to turn scientific ideas into real solar products” – Thi Xuan Bui, CEO of Solar Adventure

The Okanagan campus of the University of British Columbia has identified collaborating and forging links with local BC-based companies as being a key priority. A doctoral student will be conducting this research under the guidance of Dr. Stephen K. O’Leary. As a researcher, Dr. O’Leary has found that such collaborations have provided him, and the other members of his group, with new perspectives and alternate points of view. This has led to greater research productivity and increased innovation. Accordingly, the members of Dr. O’Leary’s group look forward to the opportunities that they will explore with Solar Adventure Ltd. The opportunity to explore fundamentals within the scope of an important applied industrial problem, such as the ones being offered by Solar Adventure Ltd., will further contribute to Canada’s economic vitality and help it remain a global center for scientific and technological innovation.

“The problems tackled by Solar Adventure Ltd. offer bountiful opportunities for scientific and technological advances within the scope of applied industrial problems. The members of my group look forward to navigating through these previously unexplored solar opportunities.” – Stephen O’Leary, Professor of Engineering, UBC – Okanagan Campus

Research will increase the potential for solar generation without prohibitive space requirements

Renewable power capacity is set to expand by 50% between 2019 and 2024, led by solar photovoltaic (PV) energy. This increase of 1200 GW is equivalent to the total installed power capacity of the United States today. Solar PV alone accounts for almost 60% of the expected growth.

The success of this research project will help to fill the gaps of the renewable energy supply that current solutions are leaving behind. The most popular solution to the current consumer and commercial needs is the traditional solar system installed on the roof. The biggest drawback of such a system is that it is not applicable to buildings or houses with limited roof area, especially high-rise buildings, where there is only a small amount of roof compared to the total area of the building. Smart solar blinds, and other form-compliant solar products, will create new opportunities for solar generation through windows or glass walls. 

About Solar Adventure Ltd.

Founded in 2019, with a mission to support the global movement towards alternative and sustainable energy use, Solar Adventure Ltd. develops solar technologies for densely populated urban areas. Its initial product in development, the 3 in 1 smart blind, is a vertical photovoltaic system for high-rise buildings that does not require expensive alterations to a building’s façade.

Contact information

CEO: Thi Xuan Bui

Email: [email protected]

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


Building the dream – Dream Cantec Systems receives two-year grant

Building the dream – Dream Cantec Systems receives two-year grant

Building the dream – Dream Cantec Systems receives two-year grant from Mitacs Accelerate Program

VANCOUVER, Jan. 30, 2020 – Dream Cantec Systems Inc. (DCS), a startup in incubation at Empowered Startups Ltd, is pleased to report that its collaborative research project with Simon Fraser University’s School of Mechatronics Systems Engineering has been approved for a $60,000 two-year grant from the Mitacs Accelerate Program. The partnership will research the impact of the ambient sleep environment on sleep quality and experiment with a proof of concept to help users to optimize their sleep environment. This grant enables Dream Cantec Systems Inc. to conduct further research in support of developing its DREAM device.

About the Dream Cantec Systems / SFU partnership

Dream Cantec Systems is committed to bringing users the best in sleep quality, mental clarity, and focus by developing revolutionary sleep support technologies through integration with smart home technology. DCS leverages smart home and IoT technology to automate the sleep environment and improve sleep quality.

“This partnership accelerates the development of Dream Cantec Systems’ DREAM device by leveraging our R&D capital and providing the skilled-talent and research that will enable us to help our customers get the critical sleep they need to live healthy, productive, and happy lives.” – Tuyen Do Nang, CEO of Dream Cantec Systems Inc.

SFU is consistently ranked as one of Canada’s top comprehensive universities. Its School of Mechatronics Systems Engineering has an esteemed reputation in its field for providing research and development with a strong focus on practical, product-oriented solutions. The faculty and students are also deeply collaborative with industry with a hands-on entrepreneurial spirit.

“We are very excited about this research partnership with Dream Cantec Systems through Mitacs. Our expertise in sleep studies and cutting-edge IoT technologies will help the company’s DREAM device to have a competitive advantage on the world stage. And, for SFU researchers, it provides the chance to develop a product that will have positive effects in the real world.” – Dr. Edward Park, Director, SFU School of Mechatronic Systems Engineering.

 Research can help break dependence on sedatives to aid sleep

This research partnership will help broaden the understanding of how wearables and environmental sensors can provide consumers with better control over their sleep environment and sleep quality without dependence on sedatives to aid sleep onset and sleep. There is a tremendous opportunity for IoT-based sleep monitoring and machine learning to not only assess sleep quality but also provide insights as to how an individual can improve their sleep.

Specifically, the project will contribute to a better understanding the impact of ambient environment on sleep patterns, develop algorithms to detect and classify the relationship between sleep patterns and environment, and create a proof of concept to test improvements in sleep quality through changes in sleep schedule and environment.

Current solutions to aid in sleep are not working

Consumers are increasingly including sleep in their definition of healthy lifestyles, along with diet and exercise. However, sleep satisfaction is at a markedly low level. The National Sleep Foundation found that 19% of older adults report being “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with their sleep. Statistics Canada found that 43% of men and 55% of women reported trouble going to sleep or staying asleep “sometimes/most of the time/all of the time.”

Current reliance on the long-term use of sedatives can result in tolerance and cause side effects of chronic fatigue, vision problems, mood swings, slowed reflexes, breathing problems, and liver damage. In Canada 12% of the adult population has used prescription sedatives in the past year. In the U.S, 4% of the adult population has used prescription sleep aids in the past month.

The multibillion-dollar sleep-health economy is a response to this growing problem and opens a wide range of attractive market opportunities for both private equity investors and consumer-oriented companies. By helping consumers to better manage their sleep without risks from side effects, we can ensure that people are able to enjoy and perform better during their day to day activities.

About Dream Cantec Systems Inc.

Dream Cantec Systems Inc, founded in 2019, is the perfect dream maker to everyone. We use emerging sleep science to design smart technologies for home use and travel that enable users to get a good night’s rest without becoming dependent on sleep medications.

Contact information

Tuyen Do Nang – CEO

Email:               [email protected]

Address:           420-744 West Hastings Street

Vancouver, BC, V6C 1A5, Canada