On Wednesday, November 10th during Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Penny Appeal Social Accelerator Fund Pitch Competition was virtually held. Over a period of three-hours, six high-potential social enterprise finalists pitched, and then participated in a question-and-answer period with the panel of esteemed judges.
The judging panel was made up of Janie Goldstein (Co-Founder of the Upside Foundation), Keith Kwan (Partner and CEO of Legasus Advisors), and Ralph E. Lean (Vice Chairman of Hampton Financial Corporation).
Following an intense deliberation period, the judges selected Decomp as one of the winners – awarding the biotechnology start-up with $7,000 for research and development, $6,000 in funds to support a student intern, as well as exclusive support from the Social Ventures Zone (SVZ).
25-year-old Turks and Caicos Islander and Founder of Decomp, Gabriel Saunders, successfully pitched for the biotechnology start-up that seeks to tackle plastic waste pollution through utilizing proprietary plastic-degrading microbes.
“It was an honour to have been selected as one of the finalists – and even more so to be selected from among such impactful start-ups, as one of the winners. The funds will be utilized for in-lab testing and a small-scale pilot project with a material recovery facility (MRF), and our student intern will receive hands-on experience in business development” said Saunders.
To be eligible, ventures had to either come from within the Ryerson University Zone Learning or SVZ networks, and follow an application process, which required: (i) a letter of recommendation, (ii) a job posting, as well as (iii) a project budget.
Since January 2021, Decomp has been incubated at the SVZ. The SVZ is one of Ryerson University’s 10 incubator zones – specifically the one that seeks to hone the next generation of innovative and sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges. The SVZ has their own stringent admissions process, evaluating social enterprises requesting admission by: (i) potential impact – how the venture will impact people and/or the environment, (ii) degree of innovation – the degree to which the venture presents a new or innovative approach with potential for disruptive change, (iii) potential of sustainability – how the venture will be viable, and (iv) personal capacity – how well equipped the team is to tackle the social challenge.
Earlier this year, in September, Saunders presented Decomp to North America’s most senior environmental officials at the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s (CEC’s) 28th Council Session. Following this, in October, Saunders was invited to be a panelist at the European Union’s Delegation (EUDEL) to Mexico’s Climate Action Conference.