New Ventures BC Competition crowns its 2021 winners

Car auction platform TrafficDriven took the top prize in the 21st New Ventures BC Competition.

Credit: New Ventures BC

The team from TrafficDriven Technologies celebrate their victory with representatives of New Ventures BC and Innovate BC

Car auction platform TrafficDriven took the top prize at the 21st annual awards, which also honoured biotech player AbCellera for alumni impact

The awards may have been partly virtual, but the money was very real.

The 21st New Ventures BC Competition honoured eight winners last night during a hybrid ceremony at Vancouver’s Roundhouse Community Centre. Crown agency Innovate BC presented the awards, which bestowed $250,000 in cash and prizes.

The big winner, collecting the $110,000 first-prize package: Vancouver-based TrafficDriven Technologies, developer of an AI-powered auction platform for buying, selling and trading cars.  This online marketplace aims to make the purchasing experience better for consumers while also letting bricks-and-mortar auto dealers compete with digital upstarts.

“It’s a huge honour to be crowned the winner of the 2021 New Ventures BC Competition,” said TrafficDriven co-founder and CEO Mike Wood. “We’ve extracted huge value out of the competition, and being recognized as the province’s top startup will significantly accelerate our growth. We’re very appreciative of all the support we’ve received and look forward to building and scaling our company right here in B.C.”

Taking second place and $60,000 was Train Fitness International, a Vancouver-based startup whose wearable tracker automatically detects sets and reps during a strength-based workout. On the strength of its energy storage and battery management systems, Surrey-headquartered Moment Energy claimed the $35,000 third prize.

“Every year, the competition showcases our province’s next generation of innovators that are bringing bold and courageous solutions to market,” said Angie Schick, executive director of NVBC. “Whether it’s leveraging AI to connect companies to capital or repurposing EV batteries to enable a circular economy, B.C. startups are positively changing the way we live, work and play in a post-pandemic world.”

The 2021 competition also gave out four specialty awards, two of them new. The winners:

BinBreeze (Victoria) – $10,000 Innovate BC Regional Start-up Prize
Rootd (Victoria) – $10,000 Innovate BC Social Venture Prize
Rootd (Victoria) – $10,000 Innovate BC Woman-Led Venture Award (new)
Sarcomere Dynamics (Abbotsford) – $7,000 Luminaries Diamond-in-the-Rough Award (new)

Ania Wysocka, founder of the popular Rootd app, which helps people suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, was one of our 30 Under 30 competition winners last year.

And here’s a name you might recognize: AbCellera Biologics, which received the inaugural NBVC Alumni Impact Award, presented by Beanworks. A New Ventures BC Competition finalist in 2013, Vancouver-based AbCellera took that honour for work that led to the development of the first COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment authorized for use in North America.

“For more than 20 years, this competition has celebrated homegrown innovation and helped shape some of B.C.’s most successful tech companies,” said Raghwa Gopal, president and CEO of Innovate BC. “It’s so encouraging to see hundreds of local entrepreneurs enter the New Ventures BC Competition every year, showing just how much potential there is in our tech sector. I look forward to seeing our sector continue to grow and create high-paying jobs in all corners of the province.”

A nonprofit, NVBC was launched in 2000 to help early-stage startups grow. So far, the New Ventures BC Competition has supported 2,000-plus companies that have created some 8,600 jobs and raised more than $1 billion in financing in B.C.

To meet this year’s top 10 finalists, click here. You can find a list of past winners here.