Work at CSI for the day with our new Lounge Pass!

ALT TEX Takes Home 1st Place Audience Choice Award at Earth Tech Pitch Night

Nikky Manfredi

Nikky Manfredi

Communications & Content Specialist

On June 30, supporters from across Canada and beyond tuned in to meet the next generation of Canadian cleantech entrepreneurs helping to build the Next Economy. 

Sixteen startups from our 2021 Earth Tech cohort presented their work and progress to over 160 people.To make it interesting, we let the audience vote live on which five entrepreneurs would move to the final round, and, of those, which three would win a total of $10,000. Our Earth Tech accelerator supports early-stage climate and water enterprises, and is made possible by the RBC Foundation, Bullfrog Power and the Peter Gilgan Foundation, with additional prize money for Pitch Night provided by Fiix

If you missed the event, catch all the pitches in full here or check out our recap of the night below: 

Breaking down complex cleantech solutions in a time crunch is no easy feat. In a first lightning round of elevator pitches, our 2021 Earth Tech cohort put everything on the line – and we really mean that: one pitch from Farmlife Academy featured farm fresh produce; Nyoka Design Labs lit up our screens with their earth-friendly glow sticks; and of course, no Zoom event would be complete without a cat cameo… though, this time our four-legged friend was part of Community Garden App’s pitch

Then, the audience voted again, and after a very close count, five ventures went on to the finals and delivered their full, five-minute pitch complete with pitch decks. They were: Watersheds Canada, ALT TEX, Calmura Natural Walls, AquaSignum, and Nyoka Design Labs

And the Winners Are…

After a second, very close audience vote, the Audience Choice Awards went to….

Third place ($2,000): Watersheds Canada scored a well-deserved win! Since 2002, this national charity has been working to protect and restore Canada’s freshwater ecosystem. Program Manager, Chloe Lajoie, broke down their Natural Edge program, an initiative that provides people with the knowledge, tools, and guidance to design and restore natural shorelines. Here’s a look at their impact on a three-year project:

Second place ($3,000): AquaSignum landed a second-place win! AquaSignum creates sensors that measure the activity of microorganisms or bacteria in real-time to help determine water quality. 

Check out their cutting-edge technology:

First place ($5,000): ALT TEX took home first prize! ALT TEX is creating the most sustainable polyester alternative, from one of the world’s largest landfill contributors – food waste.

Co-Founder and CEO of ALT TEX, Myra Arshad, won over audience members with her heart and her numbers: polyester is the largest polluter within the fast fashion industry, generating 7 million tonnes of waste and 40 trillion ocean microplastics per year. ALT TEX is positioned to radically disrupt and transform this industry:

Everyone’s a Winner! 

While we love the competitive spirit, it’s worth noting that every venture in our 2021 cohort has big wins to celebrate this year. They are part of a larger network of 139 early-stage ventures who, while participating in our Climate Ventures programs, have earned & raised over $33M while supporting 400 jobs. 

“We’ve spent the last six months working with [each venture] to advance their solutions and businesses,” said Barnabe Geis, Executive Director of Climate Ventures, at the start of the pitch night. “And let me tell you, every one of them has made incredible progress, and many in the cohort have had impressive wins, such as raising significant seed funding and running major pilot projects.” Congratulations to all! 

After the Party is the Afterparty 

What a night! And it didn’t stop there. Following the pitch competition, ventures, panelists, and audience members alike headed to our virtual Gather space for cleantech drinks co-hosted by CleanTech North and the Ontario Clean Technology Industry Association

From textiles manufactured from food waste to data analytics for aquaculture, these early-stage entrepreneurs are doing incredible things for people and the planet. We are proud to be part of fast-tracking their success and to collaborate with so many funders, industry partners, government leaders and innovators, many of whom showed up to cheer on our ventures and support their work. Thank you to everyone who made the night such a success. 

With that, see you next year! 

The Centre for Social Innovation is helping to prove that the Next Economy – one that is regenerative, inclusive and prosperous for all – is possible. 

Climate Ventures, now an initiative of the Centre for Social Innovation and Foresight Canada, fast-tracks the success of early-stage entrepreneurs who are developing and implementing solutions to the climate crisis. We also work with governments, large companies and partners to solve challenges and scale solutions. Learn more at

Keep Reading
CSI Spadina in the ground floor kitchen, looking out towards the lounge and meeting rooms. In the foreground is a kitchen counter, with waffles, toppings, and glasses of coffees and teas. In the background, CSI CEO Tonya Surman is speaking into a microphone on the left. In the middle and on the right, a variety of people stand and sit, listening to her speak.
One of the keys to CSI's magic is our Community Animator Program (CAP) and, specifically, the Community Animators themselves! Through this program, we've worked with more than 1,000 exceptional individuals who have each brought a little something different, and a little sparkle, to our spaces. And we're so glad to have had them in our community, because we've learned that each and every one of them has some exceptional talents, skills, and experiences to offer the world!  
Third floor lounge of CSI Spadina. In the foreground is a light blue loveseat sofa. In the background, we see two people working separately at coworking desks and tables. On the ceiling is a chandelier; to the right, a progress Pride flag.
The CSI staff team includes Pride veterans, newcomers, and everywhere in between! This year, as we celebrated Pride in our spaces and with our member community, we turned to our staff team to learn what Pride means to them. Some experienced it for the first time this year and were awash in the joy; others delighted in the fact that Pride remains such a fun celebration decades later. Others noted the increasing corporatization, which draws our attention away from the central premise of Pride - a protest.
whai header
CSI is many things - a coworking space, a non-profit organization, and a launchpad - but, first and foremost, we are a community. A community of innovators, of changemakers, of neighbours, of people putting people and planet first. And the awesome work that our members do, each and every day, never ceases to amaze us! So of course, we do our best to highlight our members whenever possible. Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Molly Bannerman, Director of Women HIV/Aids Initiative (WHAI), a community-based response to HIV and AIDS among cis and trans women in Ontario. Below is an edited summary of our chat, where we discussed the work of WHAI and their latest Collective Action Community Change report.
Become A Member