On February 3, 2021, the Jack Rosen Memorial Pitch Competition was hosted virtually by the University of Waterloo’s Environmental Faculty and St. Paul’s GreenHouse – the university’s social impact incubator.
A total of 11 teams presented their innovative projects aimed at solving, mitigating or preventing environmental problems and answered questions from judges to win the grand prize of $ 3,000.
Decomp, co-founded by 24-year-old Turks and Caicos Islander Gabriel Saunders, presented its solution to tackle plastic pollution. The biotechnology startup is trying to use plastic-degrading microbes and bioreactor technology to organically dispose of plastic waste in weeks, as opposed to the hundreds of years it takes for it to break down in landfills.
The judges should evaluate the parking spaces based on the following criteria: (1) the innovative strength of the solution, (2) its effectiveness in solving the identified environmental problem, (3) the commercialization and scaling potential of the solution, (4) the way it is inexpensive; and (5) how well the idea was articulated.
After the eleven pitches, judges Paul Neto (Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Measure Protocol), Tania Del Matto (Director of GreenHouse) and Dr. Georgina O’Farrill (Environmental Cooperation Commission Outreach and Partnership Officer) honored Decomp First prize of $ 3,000 for research and development. Prokaryo and Circular Harvest Farm Co. Ltd, who are working on leatherless “leather” made using bacteria and vertical hydroponics technology, both received honorable mentions.
The Jack Rosen Memorial Pitch competition was created in honor of the late Jack Rosen who made his family business one of the leading recycling companies in Ontario.
One of his greatest accomplishments was leading the world’s first “blue box” recycling program, which began in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Today, this is an essential element of roadside recycling programs for millions of households around the world. In 1995 Jack Rosen received the first Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recycling Council of Ontario.
“It is an honor for Decomp to be the winner of the Jack Rosen Memorial Pitch 2021 and to be associated with them. Jack Rosen has had an impact on waste management around the world, and we’re trying to do the same, ”Saunders said.
“I would like to thank the Rosen family, the judges, the UW Department of the Environment, and St. Paul’s GreenHouse for hosting a well-run competition during a global pandemic. I would also like to thank Team Decomp for all the effort that has been put into moving our start-up forward. Special greetings to Isabella Daneyko, Munira Lakdawala and Haya EL-Merheby for their great work and answering the judges’ questions. “
Decomp is also the winner of the University of Waterloo’s 2019 Hult Prize Final and the 2020 Pandemic Challenge. The University of Waterloo is consistently the most innovative university in Canada and is located in Waterloo, Ontario, which, together with Toronto, forms the Toronto-Waterloo Corridor forms – a technology center commonly referred to as the “Silicon Valley of the North”.
Gabriel Saunders is a Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (MBET) and a graduate of the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business at the University of Waterloo.