VoxCell BioInnovation wins top prize at YSpace Technology Accelerator Demo Day

YSpace Markham's Makerspace

YSpace, York University’s entrepreneurship hub, held one of its flagship events, the YSpace Technology Accelerator Demo Day, on the evening of Oct. 6. At the invitation-only event, the top three startups in the accelerator program were awarded $30,000 in prize money between them, with biotechnology startup VoxCell BioInnovation securing the winning spot.

“At York University, we are committed to supporting not only startup ventures, but the entrepreneurs behind those organizations,” said Sarah Howe, former assistant vice-president of innovation and research partnerships at Innovation York. “Individual leadership and well-being has been key to the success of the YSpace Technology Accelerator and, in turn, the continued success we see in our startup ventures. The technology accelerator is only the beginning for many of the ventures we watched pitch this past week – we’re excited to see what the future holds.”

VoxCell BioInnovation founder Karolina Valente and chief operating officer Christine Whiteside
VoxCell BioInnovation founder Karolina Valente (left) and chief operating officer Christine Whiteside (right)

The YSpace Technology Accelerator program helps tech startups execute their go-to-market strategies and acquire traction for scale and growth. The program had all 15 participating ventures working tirelessly over the past four months, immersing themselves in the process with dedicated mentors, workshops, office hours with investors and industry experts, and leadership coaching sessions.

The private Demo Day event was attended by valued partners, mentors and investors, who gathered to celebrate entrepreneurship at York University and the top graduating entrepreneurs and their ventures. Amir Asif, York’s vice-president of research and innovation, gave the event’s opening remarks. Then, each venture pitched for five minutes, followed by a 10-minute Q-and-A session led by the judges, investors and partners. This year’s judges were: Snita Balsara, senior investment manager and head of community at the MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund; Eva Lau, founding partner of Two Small Fish Ventures; and Nabeela Merchant, investor in the TELUS Pollinator Fund for Good.

The evening’s winners left with a lot more than bragging rights. The first-place venture, VoxCell BioInnovation – the biotech startup that is disrupting the drug development industry and the field of oncology research by creating 3D vascularized cancer tissue models with its unique 3D bioprinter – earned a $15,000 cash prize.

“The YSpace Tech Accelerator program was a great experience and provided education workshops, resources, connections, support, and mentorship both in marketing and strategically for our venture – that’s two mentors,” said VoxCell founder Karolina Valente. “The mastermind sessions were invaluable and connecting with like-minded entrepreneurs was inspiring.

“Winning the grand prize is such an honour,” she continued. “The prize money will allow us to file our first patent application and continue the development of our technologies, getting us one step closer to our goal of improving cancer research and getting therapies into the hands of people who need them.”

Placing second and taking home a $10,000 cash prize was Honeybee Hub, a software as a service (SaaS) company providing an online platform that serves as a marketplace for research studies requiring participants.

The third-place venture, receiving $5,000 in prize money, was Huex Labs, which has developed a product called AIDA, a voice-enabled, conversational artificial intelligence technology enabling brands to better serve their customers in live business environments.

The top five ventures will receive three months of continued support from YSpace to further their growth.

Applications for the next round of the YSpace Technology Accelerator will open in January 2022. To subscribe to the YSpace mailing list, visit bit.ly/3AVgI9j. To learn more about the accelerator program’s class of 2021, visit bit.ly/3vcfYve.