Brock Students win National Entrepreneurial Award

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Brock Students win National Entrepreneurial Award

Published on March 31 2010

Congratulations to Brock University students Nico Verhoef and Marty Verhey who came away winners at the National Nicol Award held in Ottawa on March 30, 2010. 

Marty and Nico outgrew their competition to win first prize at the Brock based event held in February. The winning concept, Perfect Patch won out over the other five entrants who made the Brock University shortlist for the prestigious Nicol Entrepreneurial Award.  After their local win, they were selected to be one of six teams to be invited to compete for the National Nicol Award

Perfect Patch is a producer of organic strawberries.  Using an exclusive raised-platform system to grow strawberries above the ground in a tray type structure, fruit is produced in an ideal growing medium within a controlled environment that provides optimized heat retention and pest control while using less water.  The result is high quality, locally grown and organically certified berries produced at lower cost.  Working with specialty grocery retailers, Perfect Patch intends to leverage government programs to champion local produce, and to market these berries as a premium product to individuals who will value their higher quality and reduced environmental impact.

The local Nicol Entrepreneurial Competition held at Brock University was judged by three local business leaders.  Ken Fowler, who is involved in many ventures, with most of his interests held by Ken Fowler Enterprises Limited or wholly owned subsidiaries. He relies on his ability to bring good judgment and sound advice to enhance his business ventures.  As well, Angelo Nitsopoulos, who has over 35 years experience in the hospitality industry. He is in partnership with his four brothers who continue to own and operate today: Days Inn, Holiday Inn and Quality Hotel Parkway Convention Centre. Angelo is President and General Manager of the Quality Hotel, which also houses J.J.Kapps Backyard B.B.Q Steak & Grill, Timothy's World Coffee, and Parkway Lanes Sports and Entertainment Centre.  Lastly, Laura MacDonell is a graduate of Brock University and obtained her BBA in 2000 with a major in entrepreneurship.  She has since taken over her family’s purified water business, and continues to speak to the entrepreneurship classes at Brock each year and has been a judge at the Nicol Competition since its inception.  Being a past finalist in the Queens Business Plan Competition, she enjoys bringing her experience and knowledge to the Nicol finalists.

The Nicol Entrepreneurial Award, launched in 1997, is unique for its emphasis on the value of the entrepreneurial spirit and the key role it plays in the success of a business. The Nicol Entrepreneurial Award attracts the brightest students from multiple disciplines to encourage the development of the next generation of entrepreneurs who will drive the Canadian economy. No other business award offers as true-to-life an experience or is as inclusive as the Nicol Entrepreneurial Award, which welcomes entries from any undergraduate student with a solid business idea, from any program.

Teams from fourteen of Canada’s top universities compete locally for cash prizes and the opportunity to be chosen by the national selection judges to be one of six finalists to go head-to-head at the National Award Gala for the National Nicol Award.

The National Award was presented during the 6th Annual Nicol Entrepreneurial Award Gala on March 30, 2010 at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier hotel in Ottawa.   Richard L’Abbé, co-founder and former CEO of Med-Eng Systems Inc., was the keynote speaker at this year’s event. 

Nicol Competition Finalists - Nico Verhoef and Marty Verhey

National Nicol Competition Finalists - Nico Verhoef and Marty Verhey