In just two and a half years, Shane Patelakis, 32, has taken an idea and built it into a rapidly expanding bioscience enterprise that is part of PEI's new economy. For this achievement, Shane, CEO of Progressive Bioactives Inc. (PBI), has earned BDC's Young Entrepreneur Award for PEI and will be honored tonight at a ceremony in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada.
BDC, a financial institution wholly owned by the Government of Canada, actively supports the development and growth of Canadian small and
medium-sized businesses through its complementary financial, investment and consulting solutions.
Combining his scientific background in the food technology sector with entrepreneurial drive, Shane founded Progressive BioActives Inc. in 2004.
Together he and four partners set out to redefine the concept of extracting natural extracts to be used as bioactive animal feed - an area where technology had only met limited success. The ProVale(TM) agent stimulates the immune system of certain animal and aquatic species and works as both a disease management tool as well as an alternative to growth promoting antibiotics.
"Our timing was right because many new disease challenges are presenting themselves across the globe," points out Shane, "and the demand for
alternatives to antibiotics is growing."
By 2005, PBI had applied for three patents and the company's first flagship product - YBG(R) - was on the market. Soon, the next generation of PBI's product, ProVale(TM), will be made available to the swine, poultry and farmed fish markets in the Maritimes and into the rest of Canada.
PBI has licensed its technology to a U.S. company in Georgia which manufactures the product under the brand name Agristim(R) and is in the process of negotiating a similar agreement with a group of investors in Thailand. The company, which numbers seven employees, is currently planning its next big step - expansion of its plant to produce 140 times its current capacity.
"Product sales for the first five months of 2006 are more than 150 percent of our 2005 total," Shane points out. "We need to get into the next stage of production to meet our current demand and serve larger clients."
PBI is also working to develop products for the aquaculture market.
Getting to where it is today meant doing a lot of groundwork to build credibility for PBI's ProVale(TM) product line. The company has commissioned independent studies of its product, working closely with the Atlantic Veterinary College and the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, as well as private companies. Trials have also been commissioned in Taiwan, Thailand, China and Vietnam. Shane and his partners have put in a lot of time working
closely with farmers. "We went out to visit the farmers and vets to understand their needs and show them our product results," says Shane, "and demand began to grow."
With his company firmly planted in PEI's bioscience cluster, Shane is involved in attracting other similar businesses to the province. He's a board member of the PEI Bio-Alliance, has worked with the Innovation and Technology Association (ITAP) of PEI, and helped organize bioscience network sessions.
"You can't just rely on the traditional methods of income here anymore. This is the next generation economy for us and PBI is doing its part. We've
attracted two companies already," emphasizes Shane.
"Shane stands out as a role model for young Canadian entrepreneurs," says BDC President and CEO Jean-René Halde. "He has built a thriving business that
combines state-of-the-art technology and science, which is an important part of the new economy for PEI and all of Canada. It's a pleasure to recognize his
passion, drive and excellence with this award."
Shane says his proudest accomplishment is getting to where he is today. "It was hard at first, but we're at a stage now where we can see the light at
the end of the tunnel," he emphasizes. "It's all in front of us. We just have to grab it."
Recognition for young entrepreneurs
A major feature of Small Business Week, BDC's Young Entrepreneur Awards recognize the entrepreneurial spirit and business success of Canadians between
the ages of 19 and 35. The winners - one from each province and territory - are selected by a committee based on criteria including success, growth
potential, innovation, participation in new economy activities and community involvement. The committee also considers export performance, the
entrepreneur's age when the business was started and any special challenges overcome.
National partners help make Small Business Week a success. Western Economic Diversification, WestJet, Rogers, Export and Development Canada, CFIB
and Intuit Canada are official partners of the 2006 Small Business Week and Young Entrepreneur Awards. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has been a
privileged partner of the event since 1981.