22 Jun Five Ws with the TIAs Finalists: Company of the Year – Scale Success
Ebco, Gokabu, Semios and Trulioo at the 2020 Technology Impact Awards Finalist Announcement on April 28th, 2020.
In the lead-up to the 2020 Technology Impact Awards, BC Tech is profiling all 38 finalists in 11 award categories. Today, we look at four role models in the B.C. technology industry that are growing into the next anchors of the province’s tech ecosystem. The “Company of the Year – Scale Success” award is presented in partnership with Clio.
Who: Being named a 2020 TIAs finalist “is great recognition of what we do day in day out,” says CEO and President Richard Eppich. “Our growing team is always pushing the envelope when it comes to advanced technology, starting 20 years ago when we incorporated Advanced Cyclotron Systems Inc. (ACSI) to reinvent modern particle accelerators.” (Visit Ebco’s careers page here.)
What: While Ebco provides heavy machining, heavy fabrication, light metal precision machining and precision sheet metal services to domestic and international markets including clean and traditional energy, mining, pulp and paper, and aerospace, the greatest opportunity for Ebco to scale is with ACSI and nuclear medicine. ACSI’s cyclotrons create medical isotopes that help diagnose cancer and other diseases, and with cancer rates continuing to rise the company’s products are needed more than ever.
When: Richard’s father, Helmut, co-founded Ebco in 1956 with his twin brother Hugo. The pair would go on to receive honorary degrees from Simon Fraser University and win the BC Business Entrepreneurs of the Year award in 1990 before handing the reins to Richard in 2009. “All these years later we’re still pioneering technology,” Richard says.
Where: Present in nuclear medicine departments around the world, ACSI’s cyclotrons are built in Ebco’s 240,000-square-foot facility in Richmond, B.C. In fact, 65 of these machines help with cancer diagnostics every day.
Why: “People often think of manufacturing as a legacy industry that’s fading away, but we see it as changing to become more automated,” Richard says. “We’re a proud high-tech manufacturer that’s in it for the long haul, with everything from design and development to fabrication and service being 100-percent pure B.C.”
Speaking of automation, the next generation of ACSI cyclotrons will be smaller, more cost-effective and more automated than anything else on the market, Richard says. This presents a major opportunity for mid-sized hospitals in Canada and emerging markets such as India and China, where lower purchase and operating costs are huge advantages. “That’s why we should be able to go from selling 4 to 5 a year to the 40 to 50 range in four to five years time.” In 2019, it should be noted, about 40 comparable cyclotrons were sold across the entire industry.
Who: The entire Gokabu team was “over the moon” about its “completely unexpected” TIAs nomination, says Director of Communications Martin van den Hemel. “It’s been a challenging last few months,” he adds, referring to the COVID-19 crisis striking soon after the company’s Kabu subsidiary was finally granted a ride-hailing license. “We needed some good news.”
What: In conjunction with its Kabu ride-hailing service, the Richmond-based company offers software development, web creation, and technical assistance outsourcing to more than 460 business partners across North America.
When: Co-founded in 2016 by a group of young graduates from business and design schools across B.C., Gokabu initially developed a social app for Chinese students that was integrated into the WeChat social media platform used by more than 1 billion monthly Chinese users. Instead of using the app to socialize, however, many were instead using it to carpool. Sensing an opportunity, the company pivoted its business plan and launched Kabu, which was officially granted a B.C. ride-hailing license in February.
Where: Gokabu’s founders were drawn to the Lower Mainland “because they saw all of the opportunities here,” Martin says. “They saw a young community of tech-minded individuals who are supportive and driven.” (Visit Gokabu’s careers page here.)
Why: “Our founders are just so brave to have navigated incredibly complex business, government and political landscapes and achieve the successes that they have,” Martin says. “Now we have to fight to compete against all of the other ride-hailing companies, which has been made all the more challenging by COVID-19.”
Who: Three years after winning the “Most Promising Startup” award at the TIAs, the new “Scale Success” nomination represents “a major shift on a global scale,” says CEO and founder Michael Gilbert. . “It’s a big milestone that validates our aggressive growth plans and aligns with our mission to help nature feed a growing population.” (Visit the Semios careers page here.)
What: Semios’s crop management platform uses big-data analytics and machine learning to help growers of high-value crops (almonds, pistachios, grapes, apples etc.) to make critical management decisions. The Semios analytics engine draws on multiple sources of data, including a wireless network of over one million in-canopy sensors measuring climate, soil and insect pest activity, to monitor and predict insect, disease, water, and frost risk in near real-time. The goal? Improve sustainability by promoting reduced dependency on pesticides and crop management inputs, and increase the value of harvests through reduced loss and increased quality. “Big data will solve most of our challenges in feeding the world,” Michael says.
When: Since being nominated in the same TIAs category last year, Semios’s achievements have come fast and furious. After being named one of Export Development Canada’s 2019 “Export Stars,” the company landed $100 million in private equity funding and $25 million in growth capital financing from CIBC Innovation Banking.
Where: Of course, 2020 has not been without its challenges. Semios was planning to add European operations to its current offices in British Columbia, California and Washington, but with its first customer base slated for the pandemic hotspot of Trento, Italy, those plans have been delayed.
Why: “Our core purpose is to help nature feed a growing population,” Michael says. “Humans tend to try to find ways to box-in nature to do what we want it to do, but that often backfires. What we’re trying to do is learn how nature wants to do things, and then help it get there.”
Who: After winning the 2017 “Emerging Company of the Year” award, having the opportunity to go two-for-two at the TIAs “is just a fantastic sign of support to the tech community, to the talent we need, and to the world,” says new CEO Steve Munford. “We’re just very happy to be a part of it again.” (Visit Trulioo’s careers page here.)
What: Through a single API, Trulioo’s global identity verification solution enables businesses to instantly verify more than five billion people in over 195 countries to help build trust and safety online. Through its global identity network, Trulioo is keeping the Internet safe from fraud, bad actors, and financial crime.
When: Steve has some big shoes to fill after taking over from co-founder Stephen Ufford, who was named “Industry Leader of the Year” by KNOW Identity and also founded and successfully exited three consumer data-driven startups prior to launching Trulioo. The company, meanwhile, has made it to the 2020 Technology Pioneers’ list by the World Economic Forum and ranked #27 on this year’s CNBC Disruptor 50.
Where: Trulioo’s biggest accomplishments came in late 2019, when it raised $70 million from Goldman Sachs Growth Equity, Citi Ventures, Santander InnoVentures and American Express Ventures to fund the next phase of its growth. “This really shines a light on what the standard in B.C. is for tech entrepreneurs, and what we’re capable of,” Steve says. “VC was really coming of age in the last 10 years, and this attention, commitment and support from global financial organizations is huge for us and for the community.”
Why: “As more of the world moves to digital, there’s a need to be able to validate who someone is in real time online,” Steve says. “If you’re one of the billions of people in countries that don’t have great ID networks, that’s a challenge. So our mission is really about financial inclusion and bringing more organizations, and more people, into the modern economy.”