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Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre crowns its champions

Innovation winners released in five award categories
Take A HIke (Diane Petryna)
Diane Petryna, owner of Take a Hike and Take 2 Boutique (Facebook)

The Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre in Thunder Bay sifted through more than 40 nominations to select five winners for its RBC Innovation Awards, virtually celebrated through videos on various social media channels on Oct. 20.

Innovative Company of the Year: ORIGIN

ORIGIN's current focus is its virtual reality ImmersiveLink VR system that has two sets of libraries, one for career experiences to help promote trade jobs and the benefits they offer and another to provide a space for Indigenous knowledge keepers and storytellers to archive their culture through a tool that can be shared for generations to come.

Young Innovator of the Year: Maya Saggar, Owner of MS Consulting

Saggar is the owner of MS Consulting, an educational consulting company that she started in 2020. When COVID-19 hit, Maya’s business took off as professors and teachers were coming to her to convert their content online. Her business continues to grow, and she now works with large organizations to tackle their different teaching and learning goals through various innovative approaches.

Innovation Hero of the Year: Caroline Fanti, Director of Regional Surgical Services, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

As Director of Regional Surgical Services for Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Fanti designed and implemented a unique clinical service delivery model program that ensures patients in northwestern Ontario receive care as close to home as possible, experience lower wait times, equity with access to care and assurance of nationally recognized best practice standards.

Innovative Project of the Year: Take a Hike + Take 2 Boutique

In April 2020, Diane Petryna, owner of Take a Hike and Take 2 Boutique, saw a drastic decline in sales caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Petryna decided to safely bring her store to shoppers in a new and engaging way by launching her very first live-streamed shopping show. Nearly 100 viewers joined the live “Shop with Diane Show.”

Marv Detweiler Advisor of the Year: Jared Johnson, Advisor for RegenMed

Johnson, a volunteer advisor, board member and considered an invaluable mentor with RegenMed, a not-for-profit biomedical facility providing bone and tissue bank for transplants. His tireless efforts helped push forward RegenMed’s product offerings which include assisting in the launch of Canada’s first acellular derma matrix and find new distribution deals for their tissue products among other key projects.

“I am always excited about celebrating the innovative people, projects, and companies throughout Northwestern Ontario," said Kendall Williams, the innovation centre's executive director, "but realized we needed to do it in a different way this year. We created these videos to highlight the award recipients in hopes of reaching a broader audience, to help to showcase the vibrant innovation ecosystem in our region and to let other know about the great things that are happening here."