After an intensive day with excellent pitches from all participants, Chelsea Griffith and Jenilee Paul representing PLATO Testing, emerged as the winner of the annual Indigenous Business Pitch Competition. Lockheed Martin Canada and the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI) congratulate and commend all eight entrepreneurs representing six Indigenous-led small businesses from New Brunswick.
Based in Fredericton, PLATO Testing develops and leverages a network of approximately 70 Indigenous software testers across Canada. It provides outsourced testing solutions to clients throughout North America, with a focus on projects that would have previously been sent offshore. Established by industry veteran and PQA Testing founder, Keith McIntosh, PLATO Testing addresses the technology talent shortage in Canada and brings meaningful training and employment to Indigenous people.
“We were so happy when we heard our names called as the winners of this year’s competition and we want to thank everyone who made the event possible including Lockheed Martin Canada for their warm hospitality,” said Chelsea Griffith and Jenilee Paul of PLATO Testing. “Winning this competition is a real testament to what PLATO Testing has already achieved in less than three years and will help raise the profile of our Indigenous-led software testing firm as we seek to scale up from 60 to 1,000 employees in five years. Most of all, the JEDI Business Accelerator was a once in a lifetime experience allowing us to not only learn from our mentors, but also network with other Indigenous entrepreneurs and business leaders bringing new ideas to so many different sectors.”
Yesterday’s competition was the culmination of a 10-Business Accelerator program led by JEDI, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to foster economic and workforce development for Indigenous people in New Brunswick. In keeping with Indigenous customs, the day began with a traditional opening prayer delivered by Vince Kicknosway of Walpole Island First Nation.
“Coming to the nation’s capital and holding our annual pitch competition in the Lockheed Martin Impact Centre are experiences this year’s JEDI Business Accelerator cohort will never forget,” said Lynn Poole-Hughes, Chief Executive Officer of the Joint Economic Development Initiative. “Today we witnessed a diverse range of creative, innovative and thought-provoking business pitches and I am confident that each of the entrepreneurs have what it takes to be successful in today’s competitive business environment. I also would like to extend our sincere appreciation to all of our partners, the Government of Canada, Government of New Brunswick, BMO and Lockheed Martin Canada for their dedication to helping Indigenous in New Brunswick realize their full potential.”
“On behalf of Lockheed Martin Canada, I want to congratulate Chelsea Griffith and Jenilee Paul, of PLATO Testing, and all of the participants who brought forward their innovative business opportunities in this year’s competition,” said Acting Vice President and General Manager of Lockheed Martin Canada RMS, Gary Fudge. “From additive marine technologies to software testing and drone videography to ecotourism, this year’s JEDI cohort is indicative of the increasing potential for strong Indigenous-led companies to be well-positioned for business and workforce opportunities involved in Canada’s National Shipbuilding Strategy.”
Participants had the opportunity to sharpen their business ideas by interacting with judges and audience members reflecting Canada’s high-tech, defence, and military sectors including representatives from the Government of Canada, industries and associations. In addition to the competition, the participants toured the National Capital Region, visited Parliament Hill, met with start-ups at Ottawa’s Bayview Innovation Yards, and attended an Ottawa Senators game.
Judges for this year’s competition included:
- Maria Granados, Navy League of Canada
- Barry Stevens, Stevens Solutions & Design Inc.
- Fred Jardine, Lockheed Martin Canada
- Trevin Stratton, BDO
- Marc Diotte, Lockheed Martin Canada
About the Joint Economic Development Initiative (JEDI):
JEDI is a not-for-profit Indigenous organization whose mission is to work with partners to foster economic and workforce development for Indigenous people and communities in New Brunswick. For more information, visit: www.jedinb.ca
About Lockheed Martin Canada:
Lockheed Martin Canada, headquartered in Ottawa, is the Canadian-based arm of Lockheed Martin Corporation, a global security and aerospace company employing 100,000 people worldwide. Lockheed Martin Canada has been Canada’s trusted defence partner for nearly 80 years specializing in the development, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The company employs approximately 1,000 employees at major facilities in Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, Calgary, and Victoria, working on a wide range of major programs spanning the aerospace, defence and commercial sectors. For more information, visit: www.lockheedmartin.ca