Hoola One Technologies: Restoring ecosystems affected by plastic pollution

Summary

Businesses : Hoola One Technologies Inc.

Region: Cantons-de-l’Est

Program : Regional Economic Growth through Innovation (REGI)

The financial assistance granted has enabled: the business to finalize the development and marketing of its innovation
 

As part of a final project for their Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from the Université de Sherbrooke in 2017, 12 students set themselves an objective to design and manufacture a prototype capable of collecting microplastic particles (from 50 microns to 75 mm in size) that had accumulated on Kamilo Beach in Hawaii, one of the worst places in the world for the accumulation of marine debris.

The HO at work on Kamilo Beach in Hawaii.
Photo credit: Hoola One Technologies Inc.
The HO is a veritable vacuum for microplastics.


To complete this project successfully, the team collaborated with the non-profit organization Hawaii Wildlife Fund (HWF) to develop their idea and guide them in the design of their machine. After several months of research and testing in Quebec, the team went to Hawaii in April 2019 to demonstrate the prototype in a real-world environment and to proceed with commissioning. The project was a success for the Sherbrooke students, who donated their device—nicknamed “The HO”—to the HWF, which has been using it ever since to clean its beaches.

Proud of this success, three members of the initial team decided to make their end of study project a concrete reality by founding Hoola One Technologies Inc. Their goal: To continue to innovate with the aim of restoring ecosystems affected by plastic pollution to their natural state.

 

“The issue of macro and microplastics in the environment is worrying, if not alarming. The adoption of regulations, collective action and new, innovative ideas must emerge quickly to be able to resolve this complex problem.”

Anne-Sophie Lapointe, Chief Development Officer for Hoola One Technologies Inc.

An innovative solution to clean beaches and shorelines

The HO 1 will reach markets in summer 2022.
Photo credit: Hoola One Technologies Inc. 
The HO 1 will reach markets in summer 2022.


With financial support from CED and assistance from Espace-inc, a business accelerator based in Sherbrooke, the business finalized in the following months the development of its innovation and submitted a patent application for its technology. A new and improved version of the machine will be ready in June 2021: The HO 1.

This new version, which will be tested in Texas in July 2021, makes it possible to vacuum sand combined with microplastics directly on the beach, before separating these two materials in a water tank using a water trap. The sand sinks to the bottom of the tank while the plastic, which floats to the surface, is rejected and directed to filters for collection.

Marketing the HO 1

Hoola One will market its very first machine, the HO 1, starting in summer 2022. Until then, the business plans to offer the technology as a service to its initial clients.

The HO can easily access hard-to-reach locations and work on dry and wet surfaces.
Photo credit: Hoola One Technologies Inc. 
The HO can easily access hard-to-reach locations and work on dry and wet surfaces.


In the short term, the business is targeting markets along the west coast of the U.S. and Canada and, in the medium term, international distribution.

Hoola One currently employs four people and one intern. The business, currently based in Sherbrooke, will acquire a storefront in Québec starting in July 2021. It will also be able to count on the collaboration of the team at 2 Degrés, an environmental and clean technology incubator.

 

Honours and distinctions

  • Recipient, Innovation program, Ministère de l’Économie et de l’Innovation du Québec, 2021
  • Top Jury Prize, Génies en affaires competition, Acfas, 2021
  • Winner of the J.R. André Bombardier Family bursary (sales pitch competition), 2020
  • Winner, 28th edition of Québec Science discoveries of the year, Québec Science magazine, 2020
  • 1st place, Les Affaires start-up challenge, Les Affaires magazine, 2020
  • 1st place, Research Award, Createk contest - J.R. André Bombardier Family, 2020
  • Winner, NOVAE 2020 Award, 20 highest-impact innovations of the year
  • Winner, CED Fast Forward Challenge, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, August 2019
  • 1st place, Canadian Engineering Competition, Canadian Federation of Engineering Students, 2019
  • 1st place in the 2019 Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge international competition, University of San Diego
  • People’s Choice, Expo Méga GÉNIALE, Université de Sherbrooke, 2018

Propelling economic development through innovation and entrepreneurial talent

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED) is proud to support innovation and entrepreneurial dynamism among youth across all Quebec regions. Thank you to the winners. Through their audacity and ingenuity, they represent a new generation of entrepreneurs with promising futures ahead of them.

CED Fast Forward Challenge

CED Fast Forward Challenge

  • An entrepreneurial competition launched in January 2019 offering an opportunity for up to ten start-ups in cutting-edge sectors to receive a $50,000 grant.
  • Seventy-two businesses from various regions across Quebec participated in the competition.
  • Twenty finalists were chosen in May 2019 to pitch their project in front of a jury consisting of one CED representative and two businesspeople.
  • Ten winners were selected in July 2019, with each receiving a $50,000 grant enabling them to finalize the development and marketing of their innovation.

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