Published on Brock University (http://www.brocku.ca)
Coming up with a better way to grow organic strawberries has made national champions out of two Faculty of Business students from Brock University.
Nico Verhoef (St. Catharines, Ont.) and Marty Verhey (Ancaster, Ont.) won the prestigious National Nicol Award on Tuesday night at the 6th Annual Nicol Entrepreneurial Awards held at the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa.
Getting past tough competition from numerous Canadian universities, the Brock students impressed the national judges with their plans for producing high-quality, lower-cost, locally-grown certified organic strawberries.
Verhoef and Verhey faced the judges to present their winning business idea, called Perfect Patch, which uses a raised-platform system to grow strawberries above the ground in a tray-type structure. Fruit is produced in an ideal growing medium within a controlled environment that provides optimized heat retention and pest control while using less water.
“It was an honour to represent Brock,” said Verhoef. “The process of going through the competition gave us so much confidence to actually go forward with the project. We would like to sincerely thank Mr. Nicol for his inspiration and for providing this amazing opportunity.”
“After 13 years, I’m still excited by the innovative concepts and projects generated by the students,” said the award’s founder, Wes Nicol. “It is very rewarding to see the development and maturity of their ideas over the course of the competition. We wish Nico and Marty every success in bringing Perfect Patch to fruition.”
The Nicol Award is a national program designed to generate and reward interest in entrepreneurship on the part of undergraduate students in any faculty or field of study at participating universities across Canada.
The Award recognizes the value of the entrepreneurial spirit and the important role it plays in the success of a business. Launched in 1997, by Ottawa-based entrepreneur Wes Nicol, this program now awards over $100,000 in prize money each year to individual students or student teams.