Three judges of Francophone Ignition Contest to have hard job determining winner

SUMMERSIDE – March 6, 2019 – RDÉE Prince Edward Island has just revealed that the three judges of its 2019 Francophone Ignition Contest are a consultant and tourism operator, a financial adviser and an innovator in artificial intelligence.

« We are extremely grateful and lucky that Linda Lowther and Marc Côté from PEI and Olivier Bertrand from New Brunswick, three experts of the business world, have accepted to judge our entrepreneurial projects contest, being held Saturday, March 16, at 5 p.m. at the Centre Belle-Alliance in Summerside, » says contest coordinator Velma Robichaud.

« I certainly don’t envy them because they’re going to have an extremely hard job. They’ll have to pick the best of our three finalists, who will all present marvelous projects with huge potential. They will have to decide who wins an investment of $25,000 to help get his or her business project off the ground. »

The prize funding comes from Innovation PEI’s Ignition Start-Up Fund.

The finalists are Belgo Transport Inc. of North Wiltshire (Philippe Guidon and Natalie Coupet), Blossom Foot Care of Summerside (Stéphanie St-Onge-Cornish) and Elm Grove Centre from Alma (Josée Gallant-Gordon and Bobby Gordon).


Linda Lowther is in her first year as judge of the RDÉE’s start-up competition. She first studied at UPEI and became a teacher. She then took on various administrative positions within the PEI Department of Education, including the job of assistant deputy minister, for a combined total of 32 years. She then established a consulting firm, the Lowther Group, taking on educational, tourism and commercial projects. Linda has also been a tourism operator pretty much all of her life. For many years, she was the owner-operator of Sundance Cottages in Cavendish. She and her family continue to operate Islands Frozen Yogurt in Cavendish. She has served on countless boards and committees and is currently deputy mayor of the Cavendish Resort Municipality.

Originally from France and living in Canada for the past 14 years, Olivier Bertrand considers himself a « serial entrepreneur ». He has more than 26 years of experience within the private sector in the fields of design, marketing, innovation and banking. He is currently working with three businesses:, les Druides du Web and Elumicate Inc. He is however focussing most of his energy on that last new start-up business, which is developing technological solutions in artificial intelligence. The business has developed interesting partnerships with the University of Moncton’s electrical engineering and IT science departments. Bertrand is also the president of the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Canada, Atlantic Network. He is quite pleased to be returning as a judge for a second year in a row.

While he was working at a bank, Marc Côté completed his Bachelor of Administration degree at the University of New Brunswick in 2005. He moved to PEI in 2009 to work at the Evangeline-Central Credit Union. He began as a financial services officer, concentrating on relations with members and the promotion of sustainable financial solutions. Still at the credit union, he has been working in risk management since 2015. He is also a project officer, working with the management team on a series of strategic initiatives for the organization. An accredited loans officer, he is also a member of L’Institut des caisses populaires du Canada.


The coordinator notes that the contest finale, which will last about an hour, will be similar to the Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank TV shows. Event host Martin Marcoux will introduce the three finalists, one at a time. They’ll come before the judges and the public to present their project in seven minutes each, using various images and financial projections on the big screen and possibly with the help of product samples or demonstrations. The judges will then be able to ask them a few questions.

Once the three contestants have completed their presentations, the judges will retire to make their choice. They have to pick the project they consider to be the readiest to proceed and to have the most potential for success.

Then, later in the evening, at the end of the 2019 Entrepreneurs’ Gala, being held across the hallway, the name of the winner will be revealed with great fanfare. Lieutenant Governor Antoinette Perry, Economic Development and Tourism Minister Chris Palmer and the contest coordinator will present the winner with the huge championship cheque.

Tickets to the combined evening, at $40 each, are available at the Centre Belle-Alliance, the Wellington Rural Action Centre and the RDÉE PEI office at the Carrefour in Charlottetown until March 8.

The sponsors of the event are the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Innovation PEI, RDÉE PEI, the Collège de l’Île, the Summerside and Charlottetown Chambers of Commerce and the Acadian and Francophone Chamber of Commerce of PEI.


CUTLINE: The judges of RDÉE PEI’s 2019 Francophone Ignition Contest are Marc Côté, Linda Lowther and Olivier Bertrand.


For more information:
Velma Robichaud
2019 Francophone Ignition Contest
902-854-3439, Ext. 227