Blade Filters wins top startup award in York University’s LaunchYU program for entrepreneurs

A startup company that is significantly lowering the cost of indoor air filtration has taken the top prize in an annual York University competition for entrepreneurs.

The three finalist teams in the competition, whose members have all graduated from York University’s LaunchYU Accelerator program, were judged on their ability to take their venture to market and scale. The winner of this year’s $25,000 Aird & Berlis StartupSource Market Entry Award, Blade Filters, will receive $12,500 in cash and an equal amount in Aird & Berlis StartupSource legal services.

From left: Giancarlo Sessa, Aiden Fida and Joseph Fida of Blade Fitters with Innovation York director Sarah Howe and Aird & Berlis partner Randy Williamson

Blade Filters is innovating in the field of indoor air filtration by cutting the cost of carbon air filtration. The company has developed a patented replaceable cartridge design that generates savings of approximately 30 per cent for users by enabling them to replace an inner filter in an outer shell that has been fabricated to last.

The Aird & Berlis StartupSource Market Entry Award was created by the Toronto legal firm in 2017, along with Partner Randy Williamson, who is a York University alumnus and a member of York University’s Board of Governors.

“We worked with York to create the Award to celebrate a company like Blade Filters with a market-ready product or service, and help it get a legal leg up as it entered its market,” said Williamson. “More broadly, we hope the Award shows York University’s communities, the York Region and the entire venture sector the incredible services and support that are available at York to help entrepreneurs nurture and develop their ideas to get ready for the kinds of success we expect for Blade Filters.”

Innovation York’s LaunchYU supports entrepreneurs at different stages of growth. Since it was started in late 2014, it has supported more than 250 ventures and hundreds of entrepreneurs. LaunchYU ventures have raised over $12.5 million in funding and have generated over $3 million in revenues.

LaunchYU’s flagship Accelerator program is designed to support high-potential entrepreneurs as they build, launch and then scale their ventures. The Accelerator program includes four one-month sprints focussed on product-market fit, pitching, go-to-market strategy, financing and fundraising. The entrepreneurs take part in bootcamps, workshops, and Infounders Mastermind sessions with feedback from peers and investors.

“Innovation York was created to bring together researchers and entrepreneurs with industry and community organizations,” said Dr. Robert Haché, York’s vice-president research & innovation. “It is exciting and gratifying to see entrepreneurs with such a wide range of ideas taking our LaunchYU programs, testing out their ideas and working to take them to market.”

The Blade Filters team. From left: Aiden Fida, Joseph Fida and Giancarlo Sessa

The other two finalists in this year’s competition were Occutherapy and RedPine Music.

Ocutherapy is a virtual reality rehabilitation assistant. The platform, which is focused on rehabilitation from brain injury, offers patients interactive therapeutic tasks that are guided by the user, a type of personalized rehabilitation experience that bridges the gap between interactive gameplay and clinical therapy.

RedPine Music is a show-booking platform that is simplifying live music management. It is designed for musicians who are looking to book a venue, for fans who are looking for shows in their cities, and for venues that are trying to boost business.

The competition this year was judged by a panel of four, including: Jake Cassaday, Associate Partner, Relay Ventures; Jess Joss, Executive Director, York Angel Investors, and Marketing Chair, Board of Directors, NACO; Keith Loo, Co-Founder & Chief Revenue Officer, CTO Boost; and Sharon Vinderine, Founder & CEO, Parent Tested Parent Approved.