Over 200 attendees at the Big DiF 2023 annual open house and showcase event by Innovation Factory

Innovation Factory recognizes and awards not one, but three exceptional community members with the Mark Chamberlain Difizen of the Year award at this year’s Big DiF event.

On Thursday, May 4, 2023, Hamilton’s Innovation Factory held its annual networking event, The Big DiF, to celebrate entrepreneurship and innovation in the community. After a 3 year hiatus, Innovation Factory was thrilled to welcome more than 200 members from the business ecosystem.

Innovation Factory’s Big DiF is an annual open house and client showcase that celebrates entrepreneurship and innovation in Hamilton. The event is an opportunity for the community to come together and recognize the outstanding achievements of partners, clients, and mentors at Innovation Factory. Attendees also have the opportunity to connect with local entrepreneurs, network with industry leaders, and learn about the work being done by Innovation Factory.

Mark Chamberlain DiFizen of the Year award winners Karen Grant and Alex Ross pose for photos with the Big DiFizen wall in McMaster Innovation Park
Mark Chamberlain DiFizen of the Year award winners Karen Grant and Alex Ross will have their names showcased at the Big DiFizen wall in McMaster Innovation Park

The Mark Chamberlain DiFizen of the Year Award is the highlight of the event, recognizing individuals who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to making a positive impact in the community. This year, Innovation Factory celebrated and awarded three individuals, compensating for the years missed during the pandemic.

The award winners were Karen Grant, former Founder of Angel One Investor Network, Alex Ross, Lawyer at Gowling WLG, and Rachel Bartholomew, CEO of Hyivy Health and founder of Femtech Canada.

Karen Grant was awarded for the year 2020, for her continuous support during Innovation Factory’s biggest pitch event LiONS LAIR, as well as her mentorship and investment in a number of Innovation Factory’s companies. Alex Ross received recognition for the years of 2021-2022 for tirelessly contributing his time to Innovation Factory’s virtual and in-person events, and his mentorship to Innovation Factory clients. Finally, Rachel Bartholomew was awarded the DiFizen of the Year award for this year. Rachel is recognized for her commitment to Women founded companies, specifically, for establishing Femtech Canada in partnership with Innovation Factory. Femtech Canada exists to inspire entrepreneurs to lead in women’s health innovation. The program connects Canadian Femtech companies with the resources and recognition they deserve.

David Carter, CEO of Innovation Factory, stated, “The Big DiF is an incredible opportunity to celebrate entrepreneurship and innovation in Hamilton and recognize the outstanding achievements of our partners. We’re grateful for their contributions to iF and the community. This year’s Mark Chamberlain DiFizen of the Year Award winners, Karen Grant, Alex Ross, and Rachel Bartholomew, are exceptional individuals who have made significant contributions to Hamilton’s innovation ecosystem, and we’re thrilled to recognize them.”

The Big DiF event featured 15 highly innovative companies from diverse sectors, including health tech, digital ICT, social innovation, and integrated mobility, who showcased their products and ideas to attendees.

The remarkable growth of Innovation Factory was also a major highlight of The Big DiF. Since the last event in 2019, the company has undergone a significant expansion, adding more that 10 new programs and initiatives and growing from a modest team of 10 to a dynamic 25 full-time and part-time employees. The event served as a perfect opportunity to celebrate the internal growth of the Innovation Factory team.

Innovation Factory

Innovation Factory is a not-for-profit business accelerator, serving as the catalyst for technology innovation in the greater Hamilton area since 2011. Innovation Factory provides business services, training, mentorship, and strategic connections to drive market adoption, leverage intellectual property, and increase revenues, investment, and jobs. Innovators can also access sector-specific resources including exclusive smart transportation test environments and data; and a formal life science and health innovation ecosystem.

Media Contact:

Annie Horton, Marketing Lead
Innovation Factory
[email protected]

Share this article
View All Categories

Featured iF Clients

Celebrate BIG ideas that make a bigger impact at The Big DiF, Innovation Factory’s annual open house and client showcase. Join 250+ people from the Hamilton-Halton community to celebrate entrepreneurship and innovation.

Join Innovation Factory's Annual Open House - The Big DiF!

Network with 250+ industry professionals, discover emerging solutions from our innovators, and celebrate entrepreneurship within the Hamilton-Halton ecosystem.

May 9, 2024 | 4:00pm – 8:00pm | Hamilton, Ontario