Julia Kirouac – founder of innovative plant-based snack producer nud fud inc. – took home the inaugural W. Galen Weston Top Entrepreneur Award last night at NEXT Canada's annual Venture Day, in Toronto.
Named in honour of NEXT Canada founding patron W. Galen Weston, one of Canada's leading businessmen, the award celebrates the top entrepreneur of the organization's Next Founders program. This initiative is one of three the non-profit has created to drive economic prosperity by supporting, educating and incubating high-potential entrepreneurs.
Kirouac's winning recipe for transforming the snack industry through a commitment to simple, nourishing and real ingredients – combined with her focus on creating a sustainable business with the planet and community in mind – caught the attention of her peers and leaders at NEXT Canada.
"Entrepreneurship in Canada has always been an area of significant interest for the Weston Family, and the foundation has a long and strong relationship with NEXT Canada," says Geoff Wilson, Executive Director of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation.
The award came alongside the announcement that The W. Garfield Weston Foundation will make a $1M gift to NEXT Canada.
"Julia represents the very spirit of what we're accomplishing at NEXT. She's identified a clear need, and developed a creative approach to not just filling that need – but changing the very way a given industry operates in the process," says Joe Canavan, NEXT Canada CEO. "By bringing together tremendous support from groups like The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, and pairing those contributions with resources to support game-changing entrepreneurs like Julia, we can chart the course to a more prosperous Canada. That's what NEXT is all about."
Last night's Venture Day celebration was an opportunity for innovative businesses from across all three NEXT Canada programs (Next 36, Founders, and AI) to vie for additional honours and pitch their businesses to a crowd of seasoned Canadian entrepreneurs, investors and NEXT Canada alumni. The annual event marks the culmination of a gruelling summer program designed not only to launch new businesses, but also to develop and transform a small group of high-potential Canadian entrepreneurs. This cohort will now join the leagues of more than 450 NEXT Canada alumni building entrepreneurial businesses from coast to coast.
About The W. Garfield Weston Foundation
For three generations, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation has pursued its mission to enhance and enrich the lives of Canadians. With a focus on medical research, the environment, and education, the Foundation aims to catalyze inquiry and innovation to bring about long-term change. As the Foundation marks its 60th anniversary, it continues to collaborate with a broad range of Canadian charities to further world-class research, explore new ideas, and create tangible benefits for the communities in which it works.
The W. Galen Weston Top Entrepreneur Award celebrates the top entrepreneur of the Next Founders program, as voted by their peers and in recognition of venture achievement and a demonstrated potential to lead Canada's next generation of high-impact entrepreneurs.
About nud fud inc.
Nud (pronounced nude) was created out of a desire to improve the way people eat and feel by bringing truly simple, nourishing, and real ingredients back to snacks. We are deeply committed to providing the highest quality products with minimal impact on the environment, that almost anyone can eat, regardless of dietary restrictions. We have a triple bottom line and are committed to creating a sustainable business, while caring about all people and our planet.
About NEXT Canada
NEXT Canada is a national, non-profit organization that develops exceptional talent to create world-class ventures and propel technology adoption. Founded in 2010 as The Next 36 by a group of pioneering business leaders and academics, NEXT Canada is today a leader in the delivery of cutting-edge programming designed to foster lifelong entrepreneurship in three streams: NextAI, Next 36 and Next Founders.
NEXT Canada is able to strengthen the foundation of Canada's current and future health and prosperity through the generous support of Founding Patrons Hon. Paul Desmarais, Jimmy Pattison and W. Galen Weston. NEXT Canada's National Partners include EY, Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP, and Power Corporation of Canada, Government Partners include the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada and NextAI Founding Partners BDC Capital, Magna, RBC and Scotiabank.