Georgian connections a consistent theme at inaugural Mayor’s Innovation Awards
October 25, 2018

City of Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman recognized organizations and individuals in the community who have shifted mindsets, pushed the limits of the imagination, and helped put Barrie’s innovation ecosystem on the map at a special award ceremony Oct. 25 at The Five Points Theatre downtown.

The awards celebrate those who’ve embraced creative problem solving and made an impact in their community, industry or organization.

Mayor Lehman granted awards in five categories – and there was a Georgian connection in each one. Overall, 93 submissions were made and many of the finalists and honourable mentions had Georgian ties too.

Innovative Institution Award

Georgian College

Team Georgian received the Innovative Institution Award among a group of outstanding contenders.

“We’re so proud to be part of the Barrie community and to help drive creativity and innovation in our region,” says Georgian President and CEO Dr. MaryLynn West-Moynes. “It’s an honour to be recognized and a true testament to the excellence and incredible talent of our students, graduates, employees and partners.”

Did you know we’re the first and only changemaker college in Canada? The award recognizes our ongoing efforts to create positive social change in the community, led by our Centre for Changemaking and Social Innovation.

It gives a huge nod to our commitment to grow the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Barrie through the Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC). Among many achievements, the centre has helped clients create 630 jobs, while generating over $19 million in revenue since 2014.

The award also celebrates the varied research and innovation activities taking place at the Barrie Campus, which will only continue to grow with the opening of the new Advanced Technology Centre.

“The culture of innovation and entrepreneurship in Barrie has reached a tipping point,” says John Pickard, Executive Director of HBEC. “Georgian, the City of Barrie, plus entities like the Georgian Angel Network, BDC and now the Sandbox, have created an ecosystem that can push and pull innovative ideas into the marketplace.”

Three representatives from Georgian accept award from Barrie Mayor on stage at event

Innovative Business Award

Innovative Automation

One in four employees at Innovative Automation is a Georgian graduate, including co-owner Matthew Setterington.

The company, which provides automation solutions to global leaders in manufacturing, was honoured for its innovative thinking and processes. For example, employees from within each department are engaged to look for new applications. They also look for new ways to marry technologies together to develop creative solutions for their customers’ individual needs.

Innovative Automation is a long-time Georgian supporter. It generously invested $250,000 in the Advanced Technology Centre at the Barrie Campus in April. For almost two decades, the company has donated equipment for hands-on student learning, provided industry representation on program advisory committees and hired our co-op students. Innovative Automation also sponsors the Georgian College Golf Classic to raise funds for awards and scholarships.

Innovative Non-profit/Social Enterprise Award and Startup Innovation Award


Many organizations struggle to recruit, manage and communicate with volunteers. That’s where Tandempark comes in. The Barrie startup runs a volunteer engagement platform that makes it easy for organizations to connect with people who care about the community. To date, more than 1,500 volunteers have turned to Tandempark to find opportunities to get involved and make a difference.

Its founder and CEO, Liam Squires, is a graduate of Georgian’s Event Management program. Avery Konda, Chief Community Engagement Officer, is a two-time Georgian graduate and current college employee. The company is a client of HBEC.

“We are changing the way people change the world,” said Squires at the award ceremony.

Tandempark is also a finalist for two Barrie Chamber of Commerce Business Awards – nominated in eight categories!

Georgian grad Liam Squires accepts award from Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman on stage at event

Shift Disturber Award

Robert Tigwell

Tigwell works with Tandempark and LinkGreen and is closely connected to Georgian through HBEC.

He was recognized for his body of work as an entrepreneur, investor and mentor with organizations such as Gateway Software Solutions, Tandempark and LinkGreen. LinkGreen is currently disrupting the supply chain management process in the nursery, garden centre, lumber and hardware sectors.

The Mayor’s Innovation Awards were part of the Xcelerate Summit, Barrie’s premier business conference.

Congratulations to all nominees and recipients!