Queen’s students win $125,000 first prize in Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition

Business idea gains international acclaim in Singapore pitch contest

The Spectra Plasmonics team.
Photo supplied by Christian Baldwin

After winning $15,000 in this summer’s Dunin-Deshpande pitch competition in Kingston, a team of Queen’s students ventured to Singapore in September to compete at the international level. There, the team earned an additional $125,000 in funding for their company, Spectra Plasmonics.

The Spectra team won first place at the Lee Kuan Yew Global Business Plan Competition on September 14. The team members include Yusuf Ahmed, Sci '18, Malcome Eade, Artsci '18, Christian Baldwin, Sci '19, Tyler Whitney, Comm '17/ArtSci '18 and Ryan Picard, Sci '17.

Baldwin described Spectra Plasmonics as a “chemical detection company commercializing technology from researchers in the Department of Chemical Engineering.” The team developed the business this past summer as a part of Queen’s Innovation Centre Summer Initiative (QICSI).

The team was chosen as the first prize winner in their category at the Lee Kuan Yew competition, as well as the grand finalist of the entire competition. They were up against teams from universities like Cambridge, MIT and Harvard, earning success for Queen’s on the global stage.

“We are extremely humbled to win the event, especially with the calibre of competition we were up against,” Baldwin wrote on behalf of his team via email. “I think it gave us a lot of confidence going forward that we may have something special.” 

For Spectra Plasmonics, the Raman Spectrometer is their special device which, according to Baldwin, can be used “to detect samples such as illicit drugs at extremely low levels.” The device was invented by Hannah Dies, Meds’21, Aristides Docoslis and Carlos Escobedo, all members of the Department of Chemical Engineering. 

According to Baldwin, the Raman Spectrometer has great potential to affect a wide variation of industries, from “forensics to food and beverage safety.” 

Baldwin and his team intend to use the prize funding to develop Spectra Plasmonics even further. 

“We have a very concrete vision of where we want to take this company in the next few years and now it’s just [a matter of] executing on that vision,” Baldwin wrote. “The money will be spent on the necessary tasks to get there, such as further product development and production."

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