Ideas with Impact
UNB Faculty of Management

Students Win 145 000 with their Business Plan

Author: Liz Lemon-Mitchell

Posted on Jul 12, 2011

Category: IBEC

Have you ever seen footage from a security camera? Usually it is pretty difficult to make anything out in great detail because the video has a grainy, low resolution picture due to the fact there is a trade off between image quality and data storage space. At least that’s been the case until now. A team from the University of New Brunswick has found a solution to this problem, and their innovative idea won them top prize in the 2011 New Brunswick Innovation Foundation's (NBIF) Breakthru Business Plan Competition.

The team, composed of 4th year undergraduate business students Jordan DeWinter and Pablo Alvarez,won the competition's grand prize, raising more than $145,000 for their company, Scene Sharp. In addition to the $145,000, their video (click to watch) won the Viewer's Choice Award, receiving almost 70% of all votes. This award, sponsored by CBC television, means they will be heading to Toronto for the set of CBC's Dragon's Den to pitch their idea. Watch for them on the show airing next fall.

DeWinter and Alvarez became part of this project through the International Business and Entrepreneurship Center's (IBEC) Activator program, which matched them with Scene Sharp's founder, Dr. Yun Zhang. Dr. Zhang is a UNB professor of geodesy and geomatic engineering, and has been with the university for over 11 years. Dr. Zhang’s experience is extensive. He is the inventor and developer of 11 patented and commercially licensed technologies, which are being used by leading industry, government, academic and military organizations globally across the five continents, including NASA, US Department of Agriculture, Google Earth, Natural Resources Canada and Department of National Defence, Canada.

The lens and chip technology behind Scene Sharp is the latest innovation of Dr. Zhang and it has worldwide implications for a camera's effectiveness.  It can detect the 3-D location of a moving object and provide an image that is three times sharper than anything currently on the market. A sharper image isn't the only benefit, though. The chip technology also records only when motion is detected, meaning a lot less storage space is wasted on uneventful video.

Alvarez certainly got it right when he commented, "this award is an amazing thing not only for us, but for New Brunswick as well". The continued success of UNB students and faculty as well as organizations such as NBIF can only make the province's future brighter. Most people don't realize it, but New Brunswick has come a long way in raising the level of innovation and the calibre of small businesses. In fact, the NBIF Breakthru competition is the richest entrepreneurship competition in Canada.

The competition fosters entrepreneurial efforts not only in New Brunswick, but throughout Canada as well. Year after year there is stiff competition vying for the $285,000 cash and in-kind professional services that are available to be won. Thanks to this competition a UNB team has received funding to give their company a head start, and potentially make New Brunswick and the world a safer place.