Activated Biochar big winner of Innovator Idol 4

JUNE 13, 2012 – MISSISSAUGA – ON – What do you get if you cross American Idol, Dragon’s Den, and The Altitude Accelerator?  You get a new reality show aimed at giving Peel Region’s budding entrepreneurs $50,000 in prizes toward their commercialization.  

There is no singing. Nor is there dramatic music, snazzy editing, and no Kevin O’Leary—the legendary sparring, “bad boy” of the Dragon’s Den.

 This reality show is called Innovator Idol and brings together four of the best new business ideas of 2012—all clients of The Altitude Accelerator—and a panel of four judges and a live audience of about 200.  The mandate of The Altitude Accelerator, one of 14 in the Ontario Network of Excellence, is to help commercialize new products and services.  The vast majority of RIC services are free to entrepreneurs.

 “Innovator Idol is just one example of how we support start-up innovators to raise their profile to connect with motivated investors,” says Pam Banks, executive director of the Altitude Accelerator.

 This year’s Idol reality show was held on Wednesday, June 13, at the Noel Ryan Auditorium in Mississauga’s main library. This year’s title sponsor was intellectual property law firm Bereskin & Parr LLP. The 2012 winner was Andrew White, founder of CHAR Technologies. Here is White’s new reality, assisted with the lion’s share of $50,000 in prizes:  to ramp up his product, called Activated Biochar. 

 What is Activated Biochar? It’s a charcoal-based filter. It works in pretty much the same way as a Brita filter removes nasty chlorine odour from tap water, except Activated Biochar works on a much bigger scale.

And what does Activated Biochar do?  It does two things. First, it filters toxic hydrogen sulphide from biogas sources. And second, it turns that hydrogen sulphide into elemental suphur, a useful soil fertilizer. CHAR Technologies owns the patent on the process of extraction of hydrogen sulphide from biogas, a proprietary feature.

 “All the prizes such as accounting, branding, e-marketing, PR, and so on, will help us a lot. And it is great to have this support from our community,” said White.

Andrew White, CHAR Technologies

His next goal? To get $1M from investors as well as to find the right business partner who can sit on the Board and provide advice. After having crunched the numbers, White believes his business will be worth $10M in four years.

This year’s Innovator Idol finalists also included Emcara Gas Development, with a pressure release device that prevents catastrophic explosions in natural gas and hydrogen-powered vehicles;  openaxyz™ collaborative software;  and SMARTeacher, the first educational software game that uses both facial recognition and a wrist-band to respond in real-time to children’s emotions while teaching them math skills as they explore magical kingdoms.

The 2012 judging panel was comprised of financial guru, author and now TV personality Patricia Lovett- Reid from the CTV News Channel;   BillWhite, director at MaRS Innovation and retired president of Dupont Canada;  well-known contrarian investor Benj Gallander, president of Contra the Heard investment newsletter;  and Bhupinder Randhawa, a partner at Bereskin & Parr LLP and head of the firm’s Software/High Technology patent practice group.

“My background is a big bank, but in today’s economy, we all have to have an entrepreneurial mentality,” said Patricia Lovett-Reid.

Prizes for Innovator Idol 4 were provided by:  Bereskin & Parr, KPMG, RBC, PeerPoint Consulting Group, MNP, Indigo Consulting, Ernst & Young, Vengeo, Avega, BLADE Creative Branding, BiZ TV Canada, Adam Good Production, and First Principles Communication.

About Activated Biochar

Biogas is a renewable and sustainable resource, like wind and solar power. Biogas is produced by taking organic materials (such as animal waste, food scraps, garden compost) and feeding them into anaerobic digesters (think of these like big cow’s stomachs).

 Thousands of kilos of waste are diverted from going to landfill. That’s what makes biogas sustainable. As things decompose in anaerobic digesters, biogas is created. Biogas is rich in methane (the same compound found in natural gas coming out of the ground), which can be burned to create electricity and heat.

 But an unfortunate by-product of methane gas is hydrogen sulphide, an extremely toxic and corrosive material that smells like rotten eggs. In fact, hydrogen sulphide is 20 times more toxic to the earth’s atmosphere than carbon dioxide. That’s why it must be filtered out.

 Not only does the Activated Biochar filter out the hydrogen sulphide, it also reverts it to elemental sulphur. This sulphur is actually a beneficial soil fertilizer—and creates a second revenue stream. 

 There are three markets for Activated Biochar:  farms, municipalities, and landfill sites—all three produce biogas that can be captured and put to good use.

Activated Biochar has great potential for strong revenue growth, high margins, and low cost, with no by-products. It is a completely sustainable, end-to-end system.

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