Linda Lowther, Marc Côté and Olivier Bertrand will have the bittersweet challenge to name the winners at the 2019 Francophone Ignition Contest March 16.
RDÉE Prince Edward Island named the three judges - experts in their fields of consulting and tourism, finance and artificial intelligence - on March 6.
Contest coordinator Velma Robichaud said they are “extremely grateful and lucky” to have the three as judges.
"I certainly don't envy them because they're going to have an extremely hard job. They'll have to pick the best of our three finalists, who will all present marvelous projects with huge potential. They will have to decide who wins an investment of $25,000 to help get his or her business project off the ground," said Robichaud.
The prize funding comes from Innovation P.E.I.’s Ignition Start-Up Fund.
This year’s finalists are Philippe Guidon and Natalie Coupet from Belgo Transport Inc., Stéphanie St-Onge-Cornish of Blossom Foot Care and Josée Gallant-Gordon and Bobby Gordon of Elm Grove Centre.
Linda Lowther is in her first year as judge of the RDÉE’s start-up competition. After 32 years in education, Lowther the Lowther Group consulting firm. For many years, she was the owner-operator of Sundance Cottages in Cavendish and she and her family continue to operate Islands Frozen Yogurt in Cavendish. She has served on countless boards and committees and is currently deputy mayor of the Cavendish Resort Municipality.
Originally from France and living in Canada for the past 14 years, Olivier Bertrand considers himself a "serial entrepreneur.” He has more than 26 years of experience within the private sector in the fields of design, marketing, innovation and banking. Most of his focus these days is on his latest start-up business and developing technological solutions in artificial intelligence. The business has fostered partnerships with the University of Moncton's electrical engineering and IT science departments. Bertrand is also the president of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Canada, Atlantic Network. He is quite pleased to be returning as a judge for a second year in a row.
Marc Côté completed his Bachelor of Administration degree at the University of New Brunswick in 2005, while at the same time working at a bank. In 2009 he relocated to the Island to work at the Evangeline-Central Credit Union as a financial services officer. He’s still there today and has been working in risk management since 2015. He is also a project officer, working with the management team on a series of strategic initiatives for the organization. An accredited loans officer, he is also a member of L’Institut des caisses populaires du Canada.
The “contest finale” will last about an hour and be similar to the Dragon's Den and Shark Tank TV shows.
One at a time, contestants will face the judges and public to present their project. They have seven minutes each to explain their product. The judges will then be able to ask questions.
Once the three contestants have completed their presentations, the judges will retire to make their choice. They have to pick the project they consider to be the readiest to proceed and to have the most potential for success.
The winner will be announced after the 2019 Entrepreneurs' Gala.
Tickets are $40 each and include the 2019 Francophone Ignition Contest and the 2019 Entrepreneurs' Gala. Tickets are available at the Centre Belle-Alliance, the Wellington Rural Action Centre and the RDÉE P.E.I. office at the Carrefour in Charlottetown until March 8.
The event sponsors are the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Innovation P.E.I., RDÉE P.E.I., the Collège de l’Île, the Summerside and Charlottetown Chambers of Commerce and the Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of P.E.I.