Suncayr earns international recognition

Waterloo startup Suncayr was recently announced as an international runner-up for the James Dyson award, given for remarkable engineering innovations and designs created by  university students. Their winning product, a UV-responsive marker that is used on skin and changes colour to indicate when sunscreen must be reapplied, earned the team $9,000 for further research and development.

The Suncayr team consists of five fourth-year nanotechnology engineers: Chad Sweeting, Hayden Soboleski, Andrew Martinko, Rachel Pautler, and Derek Jouppi.

“We got an email about the Dyson competition and we just applied to see what would happen,” said Paulter, Suncayr’s CEO. “We got a lot further than [we]ever anticipated, and it has been phenomenal and helpful in terms of funding and publicity.”

After the creation of the marker for their fourth-year engineering design project, the Suncayr team received support from their faculty advisors to commercialize the product. Suncayr joined Velocity Science, a program at UW that provides startps with the materials and chemical  resources to incubate and develop their product.

Velocity has helped the team understand the business side of entrepreneurship as well.

“We started learning about starting businesses at Velocity Alpha workshops,” Paulter said. “We are a team of five engineers who are all still in school, so it was a challenge to learn new skill sets such as dealing with lawyers and incorporation.”

As for short-term goals, the team is focusing on academics. All of the members hope to graduate from their program this spring. They are also vying for funding through product pitch events such as the Velocity fund finals and government grants. Next summer, they will likely launch a crowdfunding campaign to cover some research and distribution costs for the marker. After graduation, the team plans to work on the project full-time, and remain based in Waterloo.

“We will definitely stay in Waterloo. Financially, it makes sense, our friends and family are here, and there is such a large talent pool in Waterloo,” Paulter said. “We might relocate when we grow more.”

Suncayr is not the only Waterloo-based company to receive recognition from the James Dyson foundation. EyeCheck, a startup from the Velocity Foundry, made the top 20 out of the 600 engineering projects submitted. The competition runs between 18 countries.