Cisco’s Fast Future Innovation Awards is Accelerating Canadian Innovation, Returning for 2022

Hear how last year’s Montreal-based winner, Sentiom, rode a wave of innovative success, propelled by the Fast Future Innovation Awards

An innovative idea is like a ripple in an ocean: given the right push, it can become a tidal wave. That’s something Mathieu Lachaîne, the Chief Technology Officer of Montreal-based smart-building-technology firm Sentiom knows firsthand.

Sentiom developed a cutting-edge AI-driven monitoring-and-detection system that provides real-time alerts to help reduce the risk of water damage in residential buildings. But it earned top honors — plus seed funding, resources and Cisco expertise — at the 2021 Cisco Fast Future Innovation Awards (FFIA) that gave the small startup company’s digital innovation the push needed to surge forward.

“We were keen to partner with a large technology company like Cisco and their innovation teams to  leverage their scale and knowledge,” says Lachaîne, citing Sentiom’s go-to-market and growth goals. “The Fast Future Innovation Awards weret  the perfect opportunity to accelerate innovation and bring our solution to market.”

Their technology, supported by Cisco’s, could assist local housing non-profit Maison Martin-Matte de Québec tackle an insurance-coverage-renewal problem. Armed with that knowledge, the Sentiom team also recognized the opportunities that winning the FFIA could provide: testing their technology in a real-world environment; solving Maison Martin-Matte’s business challenge; providing Sentiom with much-needed support, and validating their telemetry-meets-analytics platform as a viable operational solution for property owners and managers.

They were right.

Winning the FFIA delivered everything Sentiom hoped for and more. In addition to financial support, Cisco provided vital planning guidance, direction and access to innovation experts and design thinking, helping Sentiom determine the scope of their project and turn their aspirations into reality. “Cisco’s support helped us deliver our risk-management solution — integrated water-damage and fire-damage prevention — to Maison Martin-Matte,” Lachaîne says, “proving the value of the technology as a game-changer for the insurability of multi-residential buildings.”

When reviewing submissions, the FFIA judging panel assesses four key criteria: a proposed project’s innovation, impact, strategic thinking, and feasibility. “What really makes a submission stand out is when they include wisdom about why their solution is important within their industry, and highlight problems that need to be solved,” says Wayne Cuervo, Cisco’s Director of Global Innovation. “Technology is foundational in solving business and industry challenges. Cisco is here to partner with Canadian organizations to ready them for the future and guide them on their digital transformation journey.”

Sentiom’s application ticked all the important boxes. “Sentiom is an excellent example of what a complete solution looks like,” says Eric Thibault, Cisco’s Director of Industry Solutions & Country Digitization Acceleration. “[They] had a very strong grasp of the challenge they wanted to solve and began developing a solution leveraging IoT (Internet of Things) technology. We collaborated closely with them to execute their idea over an 8-month period. This solution now has the potential to scale into a broader market opportunity, ultimately creating a greater positive impact in the community.”

At Sentiom, things are going swimmingly. “We’re already on our way to both reproduce and scale our innovation in many other living communities: non-profits, government housing, long-term care homes, condos and apartment buildings,” Lachaîne says. “We’re aiming to support the digital transformation of 10,000 multi-residential buildings and beyond over the next five years, from risk and real-estate management to occupant safety, security and health.”

And for Cisco, the Fast Future Innovation Awards supports their mission of creating an inclusive future for all. “We get the opportunity to work with Canadian innovators and discover new ecosystem partners to co-innovate with in the future,” says Thibault. “It all goes towards guiding and supporting the acceleration of digital transformation and innovation in Canada.”

Applications for the 2022 Cisco Fast Future Innovation Awards are now open, and the deadline for submissions is November 15, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. This year focuses on three categories — hybrid work, cybersecurity, and sustainability — with one winner in each category receiving up to $200K in funding.

This year, applicants have the opportunity to be paired with a Cisco mentor for help creating a robust proposal. Organizations interested in mentorship are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible, no later than October 7, 2022.

Ready to dive in with an innovative project of your own? Apply now to the 2022 Fast Future Innovation Awards and visit the website for more information.

CB Staff