Queen’s University Team Wins Top Prize at Global Competition

in Science & Tech by

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The Queen’s University Spectra Plasmonics team is celebrating this week’s first prize win at the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition.

Spectra Plasmonics beat five other finalist teams from the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Italy, and Sweden to take top spot at the Singapore event, winning $125,000 (CDN) and $100,000 in venture capitalist funding.

The Queen’s members submitted a silicon chip design capable of detecting trace amounts of melamine in milk powder. This technology’s value is apparent in light of the 2008 “Chinese milk scandal” that resulted after melamine was added to milk powder to give it the appearance of higher protein content. China estimated 300,000 were affected by the tainted milk powder that year, including 54,000 babies hospitalized and six kidney related deaths.

According to Singapore’s The Straits Times, the Queen’s University project “involves the use of a metal-coated silicon chip to aid ultra-sensitive chemical detection. Lab samples are placed on the chip, which is implanted on a specimen slide and examined through a spectrometer. The chip is able to enhance detection signals by at least a million times, thus producing more comprehensive test results and reducing the need for complex lab tests that are both costly and time-consuming.

Queen’s University’s chemical engineering department is credited for inventing the chip, with Team Spectra Plasmonics tasked with developing and marketing it.

The winning Spectra Plasmonics members include Malcolm Eade, Tyler Whitney, Ryan Picard, Christian Baldwin, and Mr Yusuf Ahmed. Mr. Whitney was quoted by The Strait Times as saying this prize money will enable the team to put more focus on product development and eventually bring their technology to market.


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Queen’s University Principal Daniel Wolf tweeted out kudos to the team, saying “Congrats to Spectra Plasmonics, one of the DDQUIC grads, who have just won the international pitch competition in Singapore grand prize!

UPDATE: The Mayor of Kingston, Bryan Paterson, posted a photo of himself with the Spectra Plasmonics team and Principal Woolf to congratulate the students on their win.

According to its website: the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre (DDQUIC) supports student innovation and entrepreneurship at Queen’s University. DDQIC brings people together across all disciplines and provides resources to support innovation and the creation of products and services that make a difference in our region and internationally.

The Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition (LKYGBPC) is named after Singapore’s founding prime minister “who developed the country’s defining business plan bringing the Asian city onto the global stage.

Read a full report of the competition at The Straits Times and this DDQUIC news article.


Photo: John Marino (cc)