A technological innovation that could revolutionize autism care is one of six start-ups in a year-long accelerator program at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.

The Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub, run by Sauder’s Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing, provides socially-oriented enterprises with a dynamic communal workspace, a structured program of coaching, paid student interns, and mentorship from Sauder faculty, alumni and industry experts.

One venture, Awake Labs, has roots in a joint Sauder-UBC Applied Science undergraduate course. The company has developed a wearable device that measures anxiety and predicts potential meltdowns in children with autism. It also allows caregivers to intervene before a harmful escalation occurs. Another group has invented a “walking” bike that allows people with mobility challenges to get back on their feet.

“Increasingly people are turning to the tools and methods of business to solve social and environmental challenges, particularly in Vancouver’s entrepreneurial community,” said Associate Professor James Tansey, Executive Director of Sauder’s Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investing. “We’re looking forward to seeing this year’s Innovation Hub ventures evolve and contribute to establishing Vancouver as a world leader for social entrepreneurship.”

This is the fourth cohort of early stage social ventures to enter the Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub, which is funded by a $1-million contribution from Coast Capital Savings.  

“Coast Capital Savings is committed to innovation, entrepreneurship, and building a richer future for youth in our communities,” said Don Coulter, president and CEO, Coast Capital Savings. “Sauder’s Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub provides an invaluable education for budding entrepreneurs whose ventures promise to make valuable contributions to our community. It will be a pleasure to watch them learn, grow and succeed during their time at the Hub.”

The 2016 ventures include

Alinker designed a customizable, three-wheeler “walking” bike to help people with mobility challenges stay more active and fit, and improve their quality of life.

Awake Labs has developed a wearable device to improve the lives of children with autism. Their first product, Reveal, acts as an advance warning system to alert caregivers of an autistic child’s elevated anxiety, and prevent emotional and physical exhaustion caused by a meltdown.

My Green Space created a mobile app known as “the Master Gardener in your Pocket,” which instructs users how to grow fruits and vegetables, based on their location, type of space, budget and time of year.

Shanti Uganda is a self-sufficient program for the construction of safe, midwife-supported birth houses in Uganda, a country with exceedingly high rates of maternal and infant mortality.

Smoothie Veggies partners with UBC Farm to deliver frozen packages of organic greens that are portioned out for smoothies.

Urban Digs Farm supplies families and chefs with trustworthy, organic meat, eggs and produce grown at their Burnaby farm and by other local farmers.


The Coast Capital Savings Innovation Hub’s ventures are selected through a competitive process assessing their business model viability and scalability, financial sustainability as well as their potential to have a positive social impact. Through the program, entrepreneurs attend intensive workshops on topics ranging from strategic growth, marketing and branding, to culture and talent management. They also receive help and advice from experts at the Sauder School of Business, as well as industry leaders. The entrepreneurs are coached in how to approach investors, prepare a proposal for private funding and close the deal.

Social ventures are the fastest growing part of the non-profit sector in North America. The most recent survey in B.C. reported that social ventures provided paid employment for over 2,600 people in 2011. The survey also reported annual revenues of $60 million and services to 695,000 British Columbians.

Organizational Profiles

Sauder School of Business Centre for Social Innovation & Impact Investment
The centre is focused on leveraging business tools to advance social and environmental change, through research, incubation, and application. Its goal is to build intellectual and human capacity by linking knowledge with action to further the field of sustainability and social innovation.

Coast Capital Savings
Coast Capital Savings is Canada’s second largest credit union, owned by its 522,000 members. It has 50 branches in the Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley and Vancouver Island regions of British Columbia and has exciting plans to grow. Product innovations include Canada's first free chequing account from a full-service financial institution. Coast Capital offers one of Canada's 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures™ and was named one of 2014’s BC Top Employers. It is a member of Canada's Best Managed Companies Platinum Club and an Imagine Canada Caring Company. To learn more, visit