Clean Catch Baits, a company that creates biodegradable fishing lures, is the winner of the inaugural Atlantic Canada 2020 AquaHacking Challenge.

Based out of Saint Mary’s University, Clean Catch Baits decided to address the challenge of microplastics in fishing gear.

Its winning solution to this problem is a 100 per cent biodegradable, PVC-free soft-bait fishing lure for recreational fishing, developed through a unique organic biopolymer solution.

The people behind the idea and the company are:

  • President and Chief Executive Officer Guillermo Villarreal De Lara (BComm’20).
  • Chief Financial Officer Robel Berhane. Berhane is also a 4th year undergraduate student in Commerce.
  • Operations Manager Katherine vanZutphen (BComm’20).

“We are very happy to be the inaugural AquaHacking Challenge winners here in the Atlantic region,” said Guillermo Villarreal, chief executive officer of Clean Catch Baits. “With this prize, we can expand the scope of our business and bring this solution into the hands of anglers across Atlantic Canada.”

Picture features members of the Clean Catch Baits team that won the Atlantic Canada 2020 AquaHacking Challenge.

The following is a list of the five finalists, their rewards, and placements:

  • 1st = Clean Catch Baits—$20,000.
  • 2nd = Well Warriors—$15,000.
  • 3rd = WIDE—$10,000.
  • 4th = ExTech MIP—$2,500.
  • 5th = What the Well—$2,500.

The teams can also match funds through the Mitacs Accelerate Entrepreneur program thanks to a national partnership between Mitacs Canada and Aqua Forum.

“Congratulations to all the organizers, sponsors, and above all the finalists in the 2020 Atlantic Canada AquaHacking Challenge!” said Désirée McGraw, president and chief executive officer of Aqua Forum. “I salute your ingenuity and for your commitment to a better future by solving wicked water problems. I am particularly pleased that, for the first time in the history of AquaHacking Challenges, a solution addressing the critical issue of microplastics wins. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for you and all the finalist teams. Thank you again for your dedication and for your participation.”

The AquaHacking Challenge is an initiative of Aqua Forum founded by the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation in 2015 to support technology and business development addressing environmental problems related to freshwater. The challenge helps develop solutions into commercially viable products or services and establish start-up companies.

The Atlantic Canada 2020 AquaHacking Challenge was hosted by Saint Mary’s University’s Atlantic Water Network. The Challenge was powered by the RBC Foundation, with support from the de Gaspé Beaubien Foundation along with other national and local sponsors.

More information about the competition, the companies, and their solutions is available here.


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