Mayor Jim Watson has recognized four local entrepreneurs for their significant contributions to Ottawa’s economy. The winners were presented with Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards this morning at TiE Ottawa’s annual entrepreneurship conference, TiECon Canada.
The 2019 Immigrant Entrepreneur Award winners are:
- Dr. Ellie Ardakani, Meta Innovation Technologies Inc.
- Ray del Cojo, Lightenco
- Andre Richards, MicroMetrics
- Robert Watt, RJW Stonemasons Ltd.
The Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards, now in its eighth year, celebrates the business success of Ottawa’s immigrant entrepreneurs, rewarding them for their considerable contributions to the local economy. The awards have been presented annually since 2012.
“I would like to congratulate the winners of this year’s Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards and thank them for their important contributions to our business community and our local economy. They add value to our city in many ways, including the development of innovative technologies, the launch of groundbreaking companies and the creation of new jobs in Ottawa.
It is our hope that these awards inspire other new Canadians to explore entrepreneurship and start their own business. We are working to provide every opportunity for immigrants to succeed and thrive in our welcoming and diverse community.”
Mayor Jim Watson, City of Ottawa
Dr. Ellie Ardakani
Co-founder, Meta Innovation Technologies Inc.
Dr. Ellie Ardakani is an Iranian-Canadian scientist and energy technology entrepreneur. In 2009, she moved to Canada to pursue her academic and professional aspirations in the energy sector. She received her doctorate in geophysics from the University of Alberta and began working in the oil and gas industry. She co-founded Meta Innovation Technologies in 2017 to develop the first simulation-based technical training platform for oil and gas technical professionals. The platform provides opportunities for intuitive learning and professional development. Dr. Ardakani believes a society moves forward when inclusion collides with innovation and integrity. She volunteers for programs through scientific and professional societies that are focussed on raising awareness of the challenges that women encounter in geoscience-related careers worldwide. She is currently the vice chair and chair-elect of the global Society of Exploration Geophysicists’ Women’s Network. Dr. Ardakani also supports her peers and new entrepreneurs in Ottawa through community programs such as Invest Ottawa panel discussions and the new Ladies Who Launch program, which encourages open and inclusive conversations and support for female entrepreneurs.
Ray del Cojo
Co-founder and CEO, Lightenco
Ray del Cojo is co-founder and CEO of Lightenco, an Ottawa-based company that helps businesses reduce their lighting costs and fight climate change with efficient lighting systems. He immigrated to Canada from Mexico in 2008 and has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Tec de Monterey in Mexico, and a master’s degree in digital communications and technology from Chalmers University in Gothenburg, Sweden. Mr. del Cojo has experience in electronic cost reduction and design engineering, global sourcing and enterprise start-ups. He started Lightenco with his partners Steve Hubbard and Eduardo Vargas in 2011, and has served as engineering director since inception. He has participated in other start-ups and works to motivate youth to become entrepreneurs. He was a member of the Canadian delegation at 2018’s G20 Young Entrepreneur’s Alliance in Argentina. He is a recipient of the 2018 Forty Under 40 awards in Ottawa, and proactively joins endeavors that help fight climate change through energy savings, clean energy and technological innovation.
Andre Richards is an Ottawa-based start-up founder, supporter and tech enthusiast, originally from the twin islands of Trinidad and Tobago, with close to nine years of experience growing and scaling early-stage companies. His previous company, Kintelligent Systems, created biomechanics tools for researchers. He then co-founded MicroMetrics in 2013 to help businesses and retailers better engage their customers and collect useful feedback. MicroMetrics has grown into a full-fledged experience management platform, used by the world’s top brands and trusted by thousands of customer-focussed associates to build lasting relationships around the world. The platform is also used by several Canadian provinces, helping travel hubs and organizations better understand their passengers and improve as travel destinations through innovation in the customer experience. MicroMetrics has been recognized by the Best Ottawa Business Awards with the award for Next Big Thing. Mr. Richards is an active supporter of local up-and-coming businesses, providing mentorship both to individuals and programs, such as University of Ottawa’s Startup Garage and Canada Learning Code. He has also been featured in several podcasts highlighting entrepreneurship in Ottawa and spent time with local organizations such as the Ottawa Mission and Élisabeth Bruyère Hospital.
President of RJW Stonemasons and Glen Rosa Conservation
Built heritage expert
Robert Watt is president of the most recognized heritage masonry restoration company in Canada and an internationally renowned educator in heritage stonemasonry techniques. Apprenticed at age 16 in his native Scotland, he was recruited at 21 to help build the Carrara marble on First Canadian Place in Toronto. He has become one of the most respected stonemasons in North America and president of the top-ranked heritage masonry company RJW Stonemasons. Mr. Watt has spent more than 30 years restoring historic buildings and monuments all over Canada, the United States and the Caribbean, including the massive restoration of the West Block on Parliament Hill and the construction of the new Visitor Welcome Center. RJW Stonemasons have crews working on Parliament Hill, in Calgary restoring the historic City Hall, and in Prince Edward Island working on Province House.
TiE Ottawa is the local chapter of TiE, a vast global network of entrepreneurs and professionals dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship. TiE Ottawa supports budding entrepreneurs in the National Capital Region through mentorship, networking, education and global connectivity.
TiECon Canada is TiE Ottawa’s flagship conference for start-ups, entrepreneurs, SMEs, industry veterans, investors, and other members of the Canadian business community. Organized in partnership with Canadian sister chapters, TiECon Canada is the largest event of its kind in the region. It features daring entrepreneurs, industry leaders, technologists and investors from the hottest sectors. TiECon Canada attracts over 500 participants including hundreds of startups, speakers, funding agencies, dozens of investors and potential customers and collaborators every year.