Press releases

Fleming College Student Troy Blackwell is the Winner of the 2022 Pitch It Entrepreneurial Competition and a $2,000 Prize!

Innovation Cluster Peterborough and the Kawarthas (“Innovation Cluster”) announces that Troy Blackwell, a Fleming College student in the Fish and Wildlife Program, was the champion of Friday’s 2022 Pitch It Entrepreneurial Competition.

Hosted by the Innovation Cluster’s FastStart Program, this year’s Pitch It competition welcomed 7 student finalists from Fleming College and Trent University who all competed for the title of Best Pitch and a $2,000 prize. 

Each finalist had 5 minutes to pitch their unique business idea, followed by a 5-minute question period from a panel of judges. The panel was made up of three startup growth and investment experts: David Bonn of Part-Time CFO Services; Gail Moorhouse, Executive Director of Community Futures Peterborough; and experienced startup founder and investor, Sam Ault. 

Troy won the judges over with his pitch for his business Top Knotch Paracord, which produces quality customized, handmade paracord items for outdoor enthusiasts using Canadian-sourced materials. He approached the front of the room in full hunting clothing and handed each judge one of his products so they could see his high-quality craftsmanship up-close. 

As a passionate waterfowl hunter, Troy expressed the importance of keeping hunting gear such as game calls readily accessible, dry, and secure. Current lanyard products on the market are one-size-fits-all leading many people to resort to making low-quality homemade items. Neither option results in happy end-users hindering their overall hunting or fishing experience. Top Knotch Paracord was launched in 2020 and has steadily grown its customer base ever since. 

Gail Moorhouse stated, “Troy showed impressive levels of passion, authenticity, and focus during his pitch. His high-quality products are a relevant and much-needed solution to the challenges so many hunters and anglers face. Top Knotch Paracord shows enormous potential, and Peterborough and the Kawarthas’ entrepreneurial ecosystem can mentor Troy to grow his business for long-term success.”

In second place winning a $1,000 prize was fellow Fleming student Neil Hamilton, who is currently enrolled in the Earth Resources Technician Program. He delivered an impressive pitch on his business DentoMet which is striving to become Canada’s first leader in bone, tooth, and fossil sectioning and analysis techniques using an IsoMet saw. Neil’s pitch emphasized the enormous market opportunity his work has across Canada, with organizations currently forced to outsource this type of analysis to U.S. companies. 

“On behalf of our entire team, I want to congratulate Troy, Neil, and all of our Pitch It finalists,” stated Camila Duarte, Innovation Specialist at the Innovation Cluster. “This year’s students brought a high level of determination and skill – such a fantastic way to kick off the Innovation Cluster’s return to in-person events.” 

About the Innovation Cluster 

The Innovation Cluster is a not-for-profit organization that drives innovative, determined entrepreneurs in the formation and growth of their technology-based companies. Supporting four key sectors, agtech, digital, healthcare and with a strong focus on cleantech, the Innovation Cluster’s dynamic programming and mentoring ensures start-ups find their best path to market. 

Core Funding is provided by The City of Peterborough, Trent University, Fleming College, Peterborough Region Angel Network, The City of Kawartha Lakes, OMAFRA, Feddev Ontario, Ontario Trillium Foundation and Peterborough Utilities Group. Visit 

Media Contact:

Michael Skinner, Innovation Cluster CEO

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