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TotalPave Wins NBIF’s Breakthru Prize

TotalPave, a Fredericton startup founded by brothers Drew and Coady Cameron, has won the New Brunswick Innovation Foundation’s 2013 Breakthru business plan competition for its system to help cities and towns assess road conditions.

The company, whose smartphone app and analytics system help municipalities determine which roads need repairs, walked away with the top prize of $192,000, consisting of $160,000 in cash and $32,000 in professional services.

The Breakthru contest is held every second year to find the best business plan in New Brunswick. The foundation’s chief executive, Calvin Milbury, said the contest targets business plans because it wants to boost young companies and help get entrepreneurs started.

The first runner-up prize, worth $137,000 in cash and services, went to Store It Squirrel, a Saint John company that helps link people looking for short-term room for storage with householders who want to rent out space.

The $77,000 second runner-up prize went to Black Magic, also of Fredericton. Black Magic has manufactured a two-step, non-toxic solution with no abrasives that helps people wash any oil-based substance, even dried paint, from their skin.

TotalPave solves the problem of using expensive equipment in a special van to assess whether roads need repair. The solution is an app for a smartphone strapped to standard municipal vehicles; the app records road conditions as these cars and trucks drive around on their customary routes. The data is relayed to a central facility that automatically assesses it and reports on which roads most need repair.

Getting such data is critical because once a roadway starts to break down, it will do so quickly and dramatically. If a municipality detects the deterioration at the right time, it can make minor, inexpensive repairs promptly rather than paying a lot of money later for repaving.

The Cameron brothers, both students at the University of New Brunswick, are on a roll with their project, which last year won a national Nicol Entrepreneurial Award for new technology coming from a Canadian university.

Black Magic was also the winner of the CBC Viewers’ Choice award, selected by people who watch CBC in New Brunswick, where profiles of each competing team were shown. The winner of the Viewers’ Choice award will get a chance to pitch their product on CBC’s Dragons’ Den in Toronto.

In all, 47 teams sent in a one-minute video pitch last fall to enter the Breakthru competition. The winner of the best video pitch award was Jean-Philippe Olivier of Produits Pilou, which proposes erecting nets on beaches to catch red jellyfish.

The other two finalists were the RTV Group, which is developing predictive analytics software that can help police identify people who are likely to drink and drive, and CeteX, which is designing a system to help businesses clean up waste water from their factories without a massive investment in infrastructure.