TRU alumnus wins prize for innovation in tech

Hummingbird Drones CEO, former TRU student wins at 2017 Startup Canada Awards

TRU alum Robert Atwood, centre in blue shirt, on stage at the Startup Canada Awards. (Jennifer Will/The Omega)

Robert Atwood, CEO and founder of Hummingbird Drones, took home the award for Innovation award on behalf of Hummingbird Drones at the Startup Canada Awards.

The fourth annual Startup Canada Awards for B.C. were held in Kamloops this year, marking the first time that the awards were held outside of Vancouver. The ceremony awarded nine entrepreneurs, businesses and support organizations from the province based on outstanding work and a variety of other criteria with the awards recognizing two Kamloops entrepreneurs.

Lynda Brown-Ganzert, the founder and CEO of Curatio, was the winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year award. Catherine Dahl, the founder and CEO of Beanworks, took home the award for Woman Entrepreneurship. Co-owner of Harper’s Trail Winery in Kamloops, Vicki Collett, won the award for Senior Entrepreneur. Manny Padda, the founder of New Avenue Capital, was awarded for Entrepreneur Promotion. Accelerate Okanagan won the award for Entrepreneur Support. BroadbandTV was presented with the High-Growth Entrepreneurship award. Keela a company that gives management tools to nonprofit organizations won the Social Enterprise award. Finally, Hootsuite won the award for Global Entrepreneurship.

Atwood graduated from the Bachelor of Natural Resource Science program at TRU. Atwood said that the university has been a great resource for the tech sector in Kamloops, and also for emerging entrepreneurs.

“Speaking from experience, I can tell you that without the support or without the mentorship programs that TRU offers through the generators, there’s no chance we would be where we are today. We’ve been the direct beneficiaries of the support and resources that TRU has put into entrepreneurship, and I hope those continue to grow and continue to inspire students as they move through university,” said Atwood.

Atwood’s advice for students looking to be entrepreneurs is to take the risk and jump in.

“You can’t wait for that perfect idea. You can’t wait for that perfect moment because those things are never going to happen. You’ve just got to go for it and play it out, and maybe you’ll fail or maybe you won’t and it won’t be a big deal if you do because the reality is that it’s just about getting out and trying,” Atwood said.

TRU president Alan Shaver said that TRU has discovered a “secret weapon” when it comes to innovation, one that could be useful to many Canadians.

“The secret is young people, young people have ideas and dreams. [They] frankly don’t know that it can’t be done, they don’t ask whether it can be done, they just go out and do it,” Shaver said. “That’s the secret to long-term innovation and the growth of our economy across the whole country.”

Startup Canada’s national awards and grand finale will be held Oct. 19 in Ottawa, Ont. Viewers can also tune-in online.