HAMILTON, September 27, 2023 – Innovation Factory is thrilled to announce the winners of the 13th Annual LiONS LAIR pitch competition and awards gala. Celebrating some of the brightest and most innovative startups in the region, this year’s gala saw stiff competition with an impressive prize pool of over $60,000 up for grabs. 

LiONS LAIR is presented in collaboration with the City of Hamilton’s Economic Development Office. As a celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation, the showcase gala event is a culmination of months of training and workshops with experts providing business, legal, and financial advisory support, thanks in part to this year’s sponsors and partners. Namely Gowling WLG, McMaster University, McMaster Innovation Park, BDC, Cogeco, and The Hamilton Business Centre

Mintier emerged as this year’s top contender taking home $35,000 for their first-ever serum for your mouth. Mintier is made with all-natural ingredients to ensure you have long-lasting fresh breath.

“This whole experience has been very gratifying. We are incredibly appreciative of Innovation Factory for always welcoming us with open arms and their support throughout the entire process from beginning to end. Also, to the finalists, to stand beside them is an opportunity for which we are both very grateful. Being able to see how everyone grows from this experience is an exciting prospect.” said Rhaelyn Gillespie, Co-Founder of Mintier. 

The second-place winner, Noa Therapeutics, earned $15,000 in cash for their preclinical biotech company leveraging a systems biology approach to accelerate the design of tailored multimodal therapeutics for complex inflammatory diseases.

Coming in at third place was Bug Mars taking home a $7,500 cash prize for their innovative insect-based AI technology solutions that enable farmers to grow insects without disease, lowering costs and making alternative proteins a critical piece of the agricultural landscape.

The People’s Choice award, determined by votes from attendees at the live event, also went to the crowd-favorite pitch, BLUMEx, earning them an additional $3,500.

David Carter, CEO of Innovation Factory, shared “Every year, LiONS LAIR proves to be a phenomenal platform for emerging businesses to showcase their brilliance. This year was no different. I’m continually inspired by the groundbreaking innovations presented at this event and throughout their training. Congratulations to all the winners – their dedication, ingenuity, and entrepreneurial spirit have made a mark on the growing innovation ecosystem in Hamilton.”

This year’s winners were selected by some of Hamilton’s top business experts. The 2023 LiONS were Jen Mahon, partner at NorthTech Capital Investors, Marat Mukhamedyarov, managing partner at Good News Ventures, and Derek Sheppard, associate at Gowling WLG. 

“It was a very exciting night and all of the companies did an amazing job at pitching. The top 3 winners from tonight’s competition are female founders which is not something you see all the time, we’re thrilled to be able to propel women-founded innovations forward.” shared Jen Mahon, 2023 LiONS LAIR judge. 

About Innovation Factory

Innovation Factory is a not-for-profit business accelerator, serving as the catalyst for technology innovation in the greater Hamilton area since 2010. Innovation Factory provides business services, training, mentorship, and strategic connections to drive market adoption, leverage intellectual property, and increase revenues, investment, and jobs. Innovators can also access sector-specific resources including exclusive smart transportation test environments and data; and a formal life science and health innovation ecosystem.


Annie Horton, Marketing Lead
Innovation Factory
[email protected]