Weston Youth Innovation Award

A child works on an electronics project.

About the Weston Youth Innovation Award

The Weston Youth Innovation Award recognizes and honours Canadian innovators ages 14 to 18 who are making a difference. This annual award is generously funded by the Weston Family Foundation.

Who is Eligible?

We look for individuals or groups who:

  • Are between the ages of 14 and 18
  • Have used science and/or technology as the basis for developing creative and innovative ideas aimed at solving real-world problems
  • Put their ideas into action, and as a result, have had a positive impact either in their own community or on a broader scale.

This Year’s Prizes

The cash prizes for the 2021 Weston Youth Innovation Award were:

  • $15,000 first-place prize
  • $8,500 second-place prize
  • $3,500 each for up to three additional finalists

Meet the 2021 Award Winners

The Ontario Science Centre is proud to present the 2021 Weston Youth Innovation Award to six enterprising teens from across Canada.

Andrew Pun, 2021 Weston Youth Innovation Award honoree.
First-Place Winner: Andrew Pun (18, Scarborough ON)

Andrew created Polarderm, a 3D smartphone camera attachment and AI web app that identifies seven types of skin lesions, including melanoma and basal cell carcinoma. By combining polarized dermoscopic technology and AI, Polarderm provides an accessible, low-cost option for early detection of skin cancer.

Catherine Makarytchev, 2021 Weston Youth Innovation Award honoree.
Second-Place Winner: Catherine Makarytchev (15, Vaughan ON)

Determined to make recycling easier and more accessible, Catherine set out to develop a unique new method for sorting recycled materials using sound. Her machine-learning system identifies different materials such as plastic, paper and aluminum based on the sound each item makes when it falls into a bin.

Alishba Imran, 2021 Weston Youth Innovation Award honoree.
National Finalist: Alishba Imran (18, Mississauga ON)

During a service trip to India, Alishba learned about the serious problem of counterfeit medications in developing nations. In response, she developed Honestblocks, a Blockchain solution for tracking medications as they move throughout the supply chain. Alishba has partnered with major tech and pharma companies to validate and expand her project, which she hopes to pilot in India.

Saptarshi Bhattacherya, 2021 Weston Youth Innovation Award honoree.
National Finalist: Saptarshi Bhattacherya (17, Fort McMurray AB)

Saptarshi developed VADAR, an attachment for eyeglasses that provides real-time transcription of conversation using speech recognition technology and AI. With this innovation, Saptarshi hopes to provide a useful communication tool for people living with hearing loss.

Tienlan Sun and Daniel Fan, 2021 Weston Youth Innovation Award honorees.
National Finalists: Tienlan Sun and Daniel Fan (both 17, Vancouver BC)

Inspired to help their relatives in developing regions gain access to eyecare, Tienlan and Daniel invented TeleAEye. This low-cost smartphone tool combines fundus photography with AI to diagnose eye disease. With a low production cost of just $10, TeleAEye has the potential to expand eyecare access even in remote locations. Tienlan and Daniel plan to partner with telemedicine companies, local non-profits and eye doctors to provide TeleAEye to as many people as possible—at no cost.

The 2021 Review Panel

  • Dr. Mary Jane Conboy – Chief Science Officer, Ontario Science Centre
  • Reeda Mahmood – PhD Candidate in Molecular Science
  • Tom Masterson – CEO and Co-Founder, Support by Blue
  • Janis Peleshok – Board of Trustees, Ontario Science Centre
  • Nadeesh Rambilass – Senior Mechanical Engineer, Hatch
  • Dr. Gabby Resch – Assistant Professor, Ontario Tech University
  • Julie Vander Meij – Science Educator, Ontario Science Centre

The Weston Youth Innovation Award is generously supported by the Weston Family Foundation and is administered by the Ontario Science Centre.