They’re out there and they’re making Muskoka a better place to live.
The region’s innovators and inventors are getting their moment in the spotlight as part of the Impact Awards, set to take place on March 22 at the JW Marriott in Minett.
There are 13 finalists vying for $1000 prizes, and the Founders’ Circle recipients garnering $10,000.
The innovations run the gamut and come from across the Muskoka-Parry Sound region.
In Huntsville, Dezarae Aldridge-Earl of Dental Hygiene with Dezerea is nominated for her unique approach to promoting dental hygiene among area youth. Aldridge has been visiting schools in the Huntsville region to help promote preventative dental health among students.
Recently she decided to recruit 17 dental assistant students from Georgian College to help her spread the word at Pine Glen Public School in Huntsville. In just one morning the group was able to split up and speak with the entire school – not to mention giving every student a free toothbrush to boot. She plans to do more outreach work in the future.
“The students were super excited to share what they’d learned with their parents when they got home,” said Aldridge-Earl in her nomination video. “Not only are you teaching kids positive oral hygiene for life but you can prevent decay.”
At Muskoka Fire Pits, located on Winhara Road midway between Bracebridge and Gravenhurst, Pascal Garrido couldn’t find the right machine to do the job so he invented one. He had noticed a high number of propane cylinders headed for landfills. His elegant solution was to transform them into fire pits with creative artwork on the side – there was just one hitch.
“Typically fire pits are made using CNC plasma cutting but those machines use flat sheets of metal and then roll them to make a circular fire pit,” says the founder of Muskoka Fire Pits. “In our case we were using a cylinder so we had to design a brand new machine – one of a kind – to be able to rotate the tank to cut it.”
In Sundridge, two longtime friends are putting hemp to use in a new and exciting way to create animal bedding and mulch.
“We did the R&D, we planted five acres, harvested it and then we ground it up and found that with the right ratio we could create an animal bedding that was the absolute best of the best,” says Trevor Kendall, one of the co-founders of Ontario Hemp Materials.
The awards are being put on by Parry Sound Muskoka Community Network (PMCN) and The Founders Circle.
“We were stunned at the calibre of submissions we received, not only from a very diverse group of organizations but also from organizations throughout our community,” says Stuart Morley, the executive director of PMCN. “We are hoping this will become an annual event, plus we are investigating the potential of showcasing a group of our innovators to the Canadian innovation eco-system at the OCE Discovery Conference in Toronto in 2019.”
There are regional innovation centres in North Bay, Sudbury and Markham with significant resources for innovators, says Morley, but not much going on locally.
“We have little to no coverage for innovators in Muskoka, Parry Sound or Almaguin,” he said. “We want to connect our innovators and showcase the incredible innovation going on in our community so we can attract more support and resources for our innovators.”