In addition to corporate sponsorship, StarFish Medical provides funding to help and encourage employee support of our communities.  Employees apply for funding on a quarterly basis to supplement their personal initiatives and contributions to Charity, Educational activity relating to StarFish, and Sports.

Festival of Trees 2018 entry receives Konnor's Choice award

The Festival of Trees 2018 is a cherished community tradition and has become the unofficial kick-off to the holiday season in Victoria. This year’s campaign launched on November 16, 2018, and is well on the way to reaching its fundraising goal for BC kids.  Congratulations to our team – Josh Coutts, Martin Kellinghusen, Hannah Rusak-Gillrie, Meredith Campbell-Jess, and Laura Meyer – and all of  the 2018 award winners of the tree decorating contest:

Outlook Project Management – First Place Judges’ Choice
Island Blue Print – Second Place Judges’ Choice
CFB Esquimalt – Third Place Judges’ Choice
StarFish Medical – Champion Child’s Choice

Konnor's Choice Award

The People’s Choice Award is Still Up For Grabs

Help us raise funds and collect votes for your team’s tree on social media.

  • Text-to-Vote: Text TREE038 to 45678. This is an incredibly easy way to donate, as the cost of the donation is applied directly to their phone bill.
  • Online Fundraising Page: Make sure to visit our online fundraising page.
  • Every $5 donated using text to vote or via your online page equals a vote for your tree.

Cone Rash raises $1300 for local food banks

Thanks to employees, Christian McMechan and Rob Keur, for using the StarFish Medical Employee Sponsorship fund to help Victoria Motorsports Club raise $1300 for the Mustard Seed/Ronald McDonald house food banks on October 7, 2018 despite the wet weather. their efforts! The club reports: “It was a wet one out there today for our last event of the season! Thanks to all of those who braved the slippery track today. Thanks to the chili makers and all the volunteers who make our club successful. All the money that came in today from entry fees & food will go to local food banks. Big thanks to Western Speedway for their generous donation and to Starfish Medical for donating prizes! Thanks to Liz Schellhorn for her donation of delicious sweets and to Cam Thorkelson for bringing coffee.”

Annual Heatwave Challenge Woodbine Beach Toronto

Congratulations to team Captain, Justin Saddlemyre and team member Cam Neish for raising $625 and competing in the Annual Heatwave Challenge in support of childhood cancer research at SickKids in Toronto on Sunday, August 26.

The Heatwave – Sick Kids VS campaign is now fundraising to build a new hospital, continue breakthrough research, and improve patient care for the courageous children at Sick Kids.

2 StarFish teams compete and raise money in 2018 Triathlon of Compassion



2018 results: $18,640 raised of $30,000 goal. StarFish has raised $1600 of $2500 goal.   For 22 years the Triathlon of Compassion has been a key fundraiser for the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. Each year Tri of Compassion participants raise over $20,000 in pledges to support programs and services to support survivors of sexualized violence. This year StarFish employees have formed two teams: #1: Mark Drlik – Swim, Scott Phillips – Bike, and Ian McGiffin – Run and #2:  Andrew Morton – Swim, Darin Jess – Bike, and Dustin Demontigny – Run. Here is a link to our fundraising page:

The Victoria Sexual Assault Centre is a feminist organization committed to ending sexualized violence through healing, education, and prevention. They are dedicated to supporting women and all trans survivors of sexual assault and childhood sexual abuse, through advocacy, counselling, and empowerment. VSAC programs and services VSAC mission, values, and beliefs

UVic AERO Student Engineering Team

UVic AERO Student Engineering Team

StarFish Medical is pleased to help Electrical Engineer, Luke Mills, and the UVic AERO Student Engineering Team through our employee sponsorship program for community support. AERO is a group of 45+ engineering students that design, build and test Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS’s). Luke’s efforts support AERO’s goal to provide students with the opportunity to gain experience working in the fast-growing industry of aerial robotics.UVic AERO Student Engineering Team Members learn to apply practical skills as they design and create software, circuit boards, mechanical devices, and airframes, all while working in a large team of students across many different disciplines. Luke is a former team executive and a current independent advisor. He also supports the team with a personal financial contribution.  GET INVOLVED



Team ViVitro/StarFish rocks 2018 Greater Victoria Bike to Work Week

Bike to Work Week

Team ViVitro/StarFish supported the 2018 Greater Victoria Bike to Work Week with 16 cyclists. Captained by Joe McMahen, they traveled 465 Kilometers, 89 trips, and 13,953 calories burned. Collectively the team saved 101 Kg of greenhouse gases.  Trevor Grier put pedal to the metal and completed 10 trips covering 74.43 Km.  Their results were included in the Victoria totals of 6.824 riders, 1595 teams, and 296,193 Km biked. Well done!

UVEC Summer 2018 Gold Sponsor and Guest Judge

UVEC Summer 2018


StarFish Medical was a gold sponsor and guest judge for the UVEC Summer 2018 University of Victoria Engineering Competition (UVEC) on Saturday, June 9th. This competition is the qualifying event for the Western Engineering Competition (WEC). UVEC will challenge engineering students to test their technical, teamwork, problem solving, and communication skills. Participants are the best and brightest students from the faculties of Biomedical, Electrical, Mechanical, Civil, Computer and Software Engineering.

UVEC summarized the event on their Facebook page: “Congratulations to the winners of UVEC Summer 2018! We had a great day of competitions with teams competing in senior design, consulting, re-engineering and programming! Winners will go to the Western Engineering Competition at the University of Manitoba in January. A huge thank you to our title sponsors, Starfish Medical Inc. andDr. Josh Chenowith – Family Dentistry for your support!”

Our guest Judge, Christine Park, reports “It was fun! Brilliant minds working together to creatively solve problems. The students were challenged to not just solve problems but think further by considering the social and economic impact their proposed solution would have on the society.”

2018 Canadian Biomaterials Society Annual meeting

2018 Canadian Biomaterials Society Annual meeting

StarFish Medical was a coffee break sponsor for the 2018 Canadian Biomaterials Society Annual meeting held in Victoria, British Columbia, May 16-19, 2018. . The Canadian Biomaterials Society (CBS) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the development of biomaterials science, technology and education in Canadian universities, industry, and government.

Humber College 2018 Industrial Design Thesis Show

2018 Humber Industrial Design Thesis Show

StarFish Medical sponsored and provided a guest judge for the Humber College 2018 Industrial Design Thesis Show to recognize the importance of encouraging and empowering Humber’s Industrial Design students to become the next generation of Canadian designers. The cash rewards received at the Thesis Show help students to overcome their financial difficulties and pay off some of their costs incurred on their Thesis projects.  Graduating students from Humber’s four-year Industrial Design degree program will present their final-year thesis projects at the 2018 Industrial Design Thesis Show. The event was held April 27, 2018 at the Design Exchange in Toronto ON.

Tim Park, Industrial Designer, and Sunghyun Lee, Industrial Design Co-op, report: “The turnout was great. It was a tough choice but we gave out StarFish’s awards to Aaron Bavle (1st place) and Samuel Parker (2nd place).”

StarFish Medical and ViVitro Labs featured in best office fundraising ideas

best office fundraising ideasStarFish Medical and ViVitro Labs’ annual Chili/curry cook-off for Mustard Seed food bank is featured in The best over-the-top office fundraising ideas by Stacy Lee Kong.  The article on local love website answers the question “Is your annual bake sale getting stale?” with seven outrageous (and outrageously successful) ways to raise money for a worthy cause including the cook offs.  Over eight years of participation, StarFish and ViVitro employees have raised more than $22,000 for the local food bank through cook offs.

StarFish employees deliver Greatest Overall Contributor to 2017 Food Bank Challenge

Mustard Seed Food Bank Challenge

Thanks to everyone at StarFish Victoria who donated and participated in the 2017 Food Bank Challenge. The month long event raised total of $53,523.82 in cash and collected 1,733lbs of food for the Mustard Seed.  Starfish Medical was the Greatest Overall Contributor with a whopping $9,563.80!  Congratulations to Meredith Campbell-Jess for leading the 2017 company effort.  Read more about the event.

StarFish Toronto also hosted a Cook-off on Monday, November 27. All proceeds went to the Daily Bread Food Bank, a local charity focused on fighting hunger in our communities. Everyone was encouraged to make a dish of their choosing to share with the office.  See photos on Facebook here.

StarFish Festival of Trees entry receives Judges' Choice 2nd place

Festival of trees

On November 15, 2017, the BC Children’s Hospital annual Festival of Trees fundraiser kicked off with a tree decorating gala event.  Congratulations to our team for creating an award winning tree that allows visitors to transfer their heartbeats to the Christmas tree (which was lying in a hospital bed complete with authentic railings and castor wheels). The tree took Judges Choice Second Place award. View the tree and make an online donation here. The 26th annual Festival of Trees raised over $163,000 to support the most urgent needs of BC Children’s Hospital. 

Niall Redmond designed the tree and concept, Adam Johnson, Adam MacNeil, Sal Sanci, and Christian McMechan created the electronic magic, Alena Hickman, Christine Whiteside, and Laura Gouzecky decorated the tree, bed, and presenting outfits, Christine Whiteside wrote and presented the story, Laura’s husband, Frank Gouzecky, built the bed,  and Shawn Grieg arranged transportation and delivered the bed to the Bay Centre. Tristan Nixon stepped in to help decorate when Niall and Adam were both unable to participate in the event.

And the results?  Check out this video from our Facebook page.

This year our tree demonstrates the power we all have inside when we share our hearts. Our tree uses the heartbeat from visitors to show their pulse in light and share some holiday heart. Watch the lights of the tree beat to your own pulse and see the magic and spirit of the holidays come to life – show some heart! In the spirit of the season, and to support our local children, we ask you to join us in helping BC’s kids by donating to our fundraising campaign.

StarFish teams raise $2300 at Triathlon of Compassion in Support of the Victoria Sexual Assault Center

Two StarFish sponsored employee teams participated and raised $2300 in the 2017 annual Triathlon of Compassion in Support of the Victoria Sexual Assault Center. The event took place at the Archie Browning sports complex in Esquimalt, Sunday 25 June 2017.  The StarFish teams are:

SuperStar Fish  with Garrick, Sheila, and Bjarne
Astero-a-Go-Go with Dustin, James C., and Meredith

StarFish Medical & ViVitro Labs Bike to Work Week Victoria 2017

Team StarFish Medical/ViVitro Labs logged 1,357 km during Bike to Work Week Victoria 2017. Team Captain, Joe McMahen, notes that 1,357 km is the distance from Vancouver to the Alberta/Saskatchewan border to help put the distance into perspective. That’s 40,714 Calories burned and 294 kg of greenhouse gasses saved. Congratulations to 2017 Bike to Work Week riders.

For more information check out the Bike to Work Week BC site.

Festival of Trees 2016


Festival of Trees

Nathan, Adam, Meredith, and Savannah decorated the tree. Not pictured are team members Christine Parks and Mike Harding.

Each year StarFish Medical and ViVitro Labs sponsor a tree in the Festival of Trees fundraising campaign for BC Children’s Hospital. For the past 24 years the Festival of Trees has created a lush forest of beautifully decorated trees to raise much-needed funds for BC Children’s Hospital. The festival knits together the incredibly generous community of Victoria in what has become, over the last two decades, a cherished holiday tradition and the unofficial kick-off to the holiday season in the city.

s1220048-800x429This year the StarFish Medical/ViVitro Labs tree’s theme is: We look deeper to help make holidays healthy for everyone!”  The tree design featured an LED X-ray branch outline and ornaments that included hand crafted “x-ray” images.  A custom booklet hangs on the tree to share the significance of our work and the tree’s design. Judges awarded the concept and execution top marks in all categories.s1220056-433x800

Highlights of the 2016 Festival of Trees Victoria:

  • 85 beautiful trees were decorated, and over 550 guests attended the Kick-Off Celebration
  • $106,400 was raised through tree registrations
  • $170,500 raised during the season to support the most urgent needs of BC Children’s Hospital
  • StarFish Medical/ViVitro Labs tree ranked #11  in the 2016 Festival of Trees People’s Choice Voting Results

The Festival of Trees Online Voting System

The Festival of Trees Online Voting System is an fundraising tool for online vote collection. Visitors can make a donation and vote for their favourite tree (STARFISH/VIVITRO) at the Festival of Trees. Victoria Festival of Trees StarFish Medical Webpage 


Triathlon of Compassion: Human Powered Racing for a Great Cause


Bjarne, Scott, and Dustin celebrate at the finish line.

Scott Phillips, Dustin Demontigny, and Bjarne Hansen represented StarFish Medical in the Triathlon of Compassion on June 26, 2016.  The StarFish Medical team placed 1st in two categories: 1st place Team, and Highest Fundraising Team. They completed the course with a total time of 1:07:21, and raised $2501 for the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. The annual event is a fun, sprint-distance triathlon put on by Human Powered Racing that benefits the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. The triathlon starts at 0730 with the 500m swim, at the Esquimalt Rec pool. Bjarne will probably hit the water at ~0830.  About 8 minutes later he’ll tag off with Scott, who will scoot around the bike course 3 times, for a total of 20km. He should be at it for 40 minutes or so, and will then pass the torch to Dustin, who has a scenic 5km run down to the ocean and back.

The team was in it for fun and to help raise funds for the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre. Bjarne’s partner Barb is a Counsellor at the Centre.  The team fundraising page remains open for donations.  A big Wooot! to all three for their winning performances and fundraising success.

Bike to Work Week 2016 sets new company record

S1070005 (640x533)
Team StarFish Medical/ViVitro Labs logged 1,483 km during Bike to Work Week Victoria 2016, our best year yet!  That’s 44,482 Calories burned and 322kg of greenhouse gasses saved. Congratulations to Team Captain, Joe McMahen, and the 31 riders in the Bike to Work Week 2016 team.

For more information check out the Bike to Work Week BC site.

StarFish Medical raises $7,741.10 for VIATEC’s 13th annual Food Bank Challenge

ViVitro Labs and StarFish Medical raised $7,741.10 for VIATeC‘s 2015 Winter Food Bank Challenge in support of the Mustard Seed foodbank.  Activities included  a highly successful chili/curry cook-off in November.  


The Victoria Times Colonist summed up the Food Bank Challenge in an article dated December 10, 2015, that included StarFish Medical’s activities.

“VIATEC’s 13th annual Food Bank Challenge wrapped over the weekend, raising $73,584 in cash plus food donations that were being weighed this week. The organization’s February food drive brought in $51,636.

The Mustard Seed’s buying power nearly doubles the total amount raised to $245,941. Since its inception, the VIATEC Food Bank Challenge has raised just under $2 million.” wrote Andrew Duffy.

Thanks to Hayley Young for leading the combined company drive, the Social Committee for organizing the cook-off, and to all employees for being so generous with their time and donations,

2015 Festival of Trees


Congratulations to Mike Harding, DeAndra Chmelyk, Debbie Gould, Hayley Young, Nathan Muller and Kimberly Nguyen for creating a magical (and award winning) tree  for the 2015 Festival of Trees fundraiser.


Every year, Victoria Festival of Trees creates a lush forest of beautifully decorated trees to raise funds for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. Sponsors, local businesses, organizations and individuals come together and decorate trees in a sometimes wacky, often irreverent and always beautiful fashion. The festival invites visitors to browse through the holiday displays and donate to vote for their favourite trees. The event offers sponsors, like StarFish Medical and ViVitro Labs,  an opportunity to demonstrate community leadership, show their creative talents and support child health. – See more


The 2015 event raised $135,000  for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

23 Cyclists show StarFish Bike to Work Week Spirit

StarFish Bike to Work Week cyclists


StarFish and ViVitro employees enthusiastically supported the annual Bike to Work Week commuter challenge.  The photo above shows first morning cyclists for the 2015 celebration.  In total 23 members of this year’s StarFish and ViVitro Bike to Work Week team cycled, walked, and bused a total distance of 833 km. In Greater Victoria over 130,000 km were recorded during Bike to Work Week! That works out to 28,500 kg of greenhouse gasses saved and 3,950,000 calories burned.

This year’s team captain, Joe McMahen (with bike above), is a ViVitro Labs product manager. Joe summed up the experience with a nod to the future, “Thanks again to all who participated.  I hope you all enjoyed your rides and continue to cycle to work when possible.”

For more information check out the Bike to Work Week BC site.

Chili/Curry Cook-off raises $255+ for Mustard Seed food bank

Chili tweetThe Mustard Seed food bank will receive a great donation of $255 + from our 2015 Chili/Curry Cook-off. Thanks to Mark Drlik and the social committee for organizing, and to Christine Park, Sal Sanci, Michael Lubben, Nigel Syrotuck, Bjarne Hansen,and Paul Charlebois for cooking up a storm.

In addition to adding funds for the Mustard Seed food bank, bragging rights went to the cooking winners:

1st Prize – DANA 
2nd Prize – CAM
3rd Prize – MIKE L

Congratulations and thanks for a great lunch!  View more photos on Facebook.

2015 Food Bank Challenge StarFish contributions up 5%

ViVitro Labs and StarFish Medical raised $4080 for VIATeC‘s 2015 Food Bank Challenge in support of the Mustard Seed foodbank.  StarFish and ViVitro employees donated $3,864.55 to the Victoria Mustard Seed in 2013.

The VIATeC Food Bank Challenge has been running for 12 years. With over $1,589,457 value of food and cash donated from Greater Victoria Technology companies, this year’s Food Bank Challenge raised over $45,000.  With the Mustard Seed’s buying power this number essentially doubles! On top of the cash, the challenge also brought in over 1500 pounds of food (worth over $4,000!)  Congratulations to all the StarFish and ViVitro employees who participated in the event.

StarFish and ViVitro Labs deliver "Operation Christmas" for Festival of Trees

The 2014 joint StarFish Medical-ViVitro Labs Festival of Trees entry celebrates two Christmas holiday icons while adding a medical engineering twist for kids of all ages.  Grinch and the long-time board game favorite “Operation” were combined to give a medical twist to the companies’ Christmas tree.  Festival of Trees 2014-6

For over 22 years the Festival of Trees has transformed The Victoria BC Fairmont Empress into a lush forest of beautifully decorated trees to raise funds for BC Children’s Hospital. Local businesses, organizations and individuals decorate the trees in a sometimes wacky, often irreverent, and always beautiful fashion. The trees are  displayed throughout the holiday season, beginning November 19, 2014, through to January 6, 2015.

Decked in lab outfits, StarFish-ViVitro design team, Christian McMechan, DeAndra Chmelyk, Debbie Anderson, James Jackson, and Janet Murray, created  electro-mechanical magic filled with syringes, gauze, multiple Operation games, a Grinch from the 1980s (thanks, eBay!) and a massive heart.  This is the third entry for the team and the second interactive tree.

“We love giving the kids a tree they can play with”, notes Christian McMechan, head buzzer and light engineer.  Along with the tree and Silver Sponsorship, StarFish and ViVitro donated money and toys to the annual event.   Congratulations to the team on a great looking tree that is delighting visitors and raising money for a great cause.

Engineering staff judge at annual UVic Engineering Competition (UVEC)

UVEC logoStarFish Medical Mechanical Engineers, Nigel Syrotuck and Julian Grove were guest judges at the annual UVic Engineering Competition (UVEC).  Held on November 15, 2014 at the University of Victoria, the UVEC competition involves team and individual entries in categories such as junior and senior design, communications, impromptu debate, consulting, re-engineering, and innovative design.  StarFish is a corporate sponsor.

“I had a great time judging this year’s UVEC, which was the most attended – by far – to date. Some teams were challenged to consult on the feasibility of Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Victoria, and each presented a unique and well thought out solution”, enthused Nigel. “It is great to see such developing talent emerging in Victoria and I hope to be involved again in 2015.”

The event is a qualifier for the regional WEC (Western Engineering Competition). If students are successful at WEC, there is also the opportunity to continue on to the national level, at the Canadian Engineering Competition (CEC). Engineering competitions promote sharing of ideas between students, and push them to challenge themselves.  It also provides an amazing opportunity for networking between motivated teams and individuals.

StarFish Medical Regulatory Advisor & Project Manager, Vincent Crabtree PhD, enjoyed his judging experience in 2013: “I was a judge last year and the hypothetical engineering project was to develop a low cost, rugged ambulance for emerging countries.  They had the usual constraints – availability, cost and functionality (although not time), and it was an interesting experience.”



StarFish Team Places in UrbaCity 2014 Corporate Face-Off For Prostate Centre


L-R Joe, Shaun, Tim, and Dana represent StarFish in the 2014 UrbaCity Corporate Challenge for the Prostate Centre.

Sunday, June 8, 2014, Dana Trousil, Joe Bogner, Shaun Barry, and Tim Cummings represented StarFish Medical in the UrbaCity 2014 Corporate Face-Off, which pits local Victoria businesses against the course, and against one another to raise funds for The Prostate Centre, Victoria BC.

StarFish Medical and the employee Social Committee sponsored the team’s registration and fundraising.   The StarFish team did us proud by achieving 7th place against 14 other corporate team competitors.

Shaun “(No Nick Name)” Barry summed up his experience: “I will never ride a Segway again.  Walking down stairs is hard.”   Tim Cummings added: “It’s difficult to move today.”


L-R: Dana, Tim and Joe complete the deep breathing portion of the challenge.

UrbaCity 2014 was a complete success.  Thanks to the generosity of racers and sponsors, the event raised a total of $37,200 for The Prostate Centre.  Each team did an amazing job and showed incredible spirit – check out the official Race Results page to see how UrbaCity teams did – and who came in first!

UrbaCity has three goals:

  • To raise funds for The Prostate Centre
  • To build more awareness of Victoria businesses
  • To have fun!

The Prostate Centre offers prostate cancer programs and services to local men and their families. These include community education, awareness and outreach, patient counseling and follow-up, collaboration and research and more. A not-for-profit staffed primarily by volunteers, The Prostate Centre is the only centre of its kind in Canada.

StarFish Employees Bike to Work for #biketoworkvic 2014

(L to R) Scott, Bjarne, Christian, John, Garrick, Kalonica, Mike, Lori, Jason, Jess, and Joe fill the empty parking spaces in front of StarFish and ViVitro on Day 1.

(L to R) Scott, Bjarne, Christian, John, Garrick, Kalonica, Mike, Lori, Jason, Jess, and Joe fill the empty parking spaces in front of StarFish and ViVitro on Day 1.

VICTORIA, British Columbia, May 27, 2014 – StarFish Medical announces seventeen StarFishMedical and ViVitroLabs staff members shattered their Bike To Work Week Victoria 2010 first day results of 63.24 kilometres.  This year’s team biked over 100 kilometres to and from work on day 1 of 2014.
Riders from both years include Bjarne Hansen, Niall Parker, John Walmsley, Paul Charlebois, Scott Phillips, and Ted Hodson.    Joining them are Christian McMechan, Dean Addison, Joseph Bogner, Kalonica Christie; Jason Dolynny, Rob Fraser,  Jess Hickman, Joe McMahen, Mike Sanders, Gerry Wight, and team organizer, Garrick Gunn.

About BTWBC: Bike to Work BC is a registered non-profit society governed by a board of directors. Vision: To experience the joy of an ever increasing number of people safely commuting by bicycle. Mission: Encourage more people in all BC communities to commute by bicycle through Bike to Work initiatives. We will secure and share resources and best practices that will stimulate growth in commuter cycling. In 2013, more than 35 regions/communities participated with the following stats: 19,860 Participants; 3,634 First-time commuter cyclists; 3,175 Workplace teams participated; 734,973 Kilometres were cycled; 170,516 Kilograms of CO2 were saved from entering the atmosphere; 20,138,260 Calories were burned; and $47,388 In Gas saved.

Check out Twitter updates using: #biketoworkvic

2013 VIATeC Mustard Seed Food Bank Challenge

StarFishies and VLabbers fly for Food Bank
Each year, ViVitro Labs and StarFish Medical participate in the VIATeC’s fundraising efforts for the Mustard Seed foodbank. Towards the end of the campaign period, we have some staff “volunteer” for the Harbour Hop, which is organized by Contech. Harbour Hop involves jumping into the Victoria BC Inner Harbour wearing a crazy outfit  (or a swim suit) all for the sake of fundraising and a chance to be on the evening news!  Those already jumping are Rob Fraser, Mike Harding, Martine Janicki & Gerry Wight – pretty cool, huh?

Through individual donations, the Social Committee’s donation, the 50/50 draws, the chili cook-off and the online auction, StarFish and ViVitro employees  donated an amazing $3,864.55 to the Victoria Mustard Seed in 2013.

The VIATeC Food Bank Challenge has been running for 11 years. To date $1,543,457 value of food and cash has been donated from Greater Victoria Technology companies. Last year $87,325 in cash and 3421 of pounds of food was donated to the Mustard Seed food Bank. But there’s so much more that we can do! The food drive runs from November 12th to December 6th, 2013.


Rob, Gerry, Scott, Martine, Mike & Lori  braved the icy waters on Thursday, November 28, 2013.

Thank you to these brave flyers and to all ViVitro Labs and StarFish Medical employees for your support of the Mustard Seed. While we may joke about the money we raise in terms of the people that will be swimming, your donations will feed a lot of people who really need the support. Thank you!

Check out our YouTube and Facebook photo and video updates.


Vegetarian Upset at 4th Annual ViVitro-StarFish Chili Challenge for the Mustard Seed

Ted receives his Champion Certificate

Debbie and her certificate

December 02, 2013 — VICTORIA BC–  Huge thanks to everyone who participated by making the delicious chillis and side dishes. And those who paid for lunch – today’s event raised $116 for the Mustard Seed.  The favourite side-dish was Rob Fraser’s cornbread in the silver pan. Mmmmmmmm!

In first place, and the new reigning champion of the StarFish Chilli Cookoff, TED HODSON! Congrats to Ted, the first ever Veggie Chilli winner in the four year history of this event.

In second place, last year’s reigning champion: Debbie Anderson (prize – hot sauce).

In third place, with the super meaty chilli: newcomer, Mike Camplin (prize – chilli’s for his next batch).

StarFish and ViVitro Volunteers Add Magic Entry to Festival of Trees 2013

Magical colors for good girls and boys.

Magical colors for good girls and boys.

The joint StarFish-Vivitro magic entry in this year’s Festival of Trees is a smash hit.  Appealing to young visitors, our tree magically changes colors at the command of good girls and boys.    Based upon early reaction, choosing the tree light colors is like eating potato chips. Once you start, you just can’t stop with one.
Photos are posted on the StarFish Facebook page, videos are on the StarFish YouTube page and donations and votes for People’s Choice awards are now open.  Plus, every time you view the holiday video at, Raymond James will donate 25 cents to BC Children’s Hospital up to $25,000.

FoT 2013 group photo

Volunteers on Opening Night: Mike, Bjarne, Janet, Christian, Ryan, Martine

Many thanks to the entire Festival of Trees volunteer team (Bjarne Hansen, Christian McMechan, Debbie Anderson, Janet Murray, Jess Hickman, Martine Janicki, Ryan Lee, Shane Reierson, and Stephen Leckenby.)   If you are in Victoria, please head down to the Empress hotel for a bit of the magic before January 7, 2014.  It really is a festival of wonderful trees.

A few highlights from the Festival of Trees Victoria:

  • 73 beautiful trees were decorated on Thursday night and over 450 people were in attendance for the Decorating Reception.
  • $84,700 was raised through tree sponsorships and $4,000 was raised through the balloon draw.
  • Volunteer teams raised a combined total of $11,086 through your bribing and Spirit of Giving donations!

StarFish and ViVitro Participate in BC Children's Hospital Festival of Trees Event

Each year the team at StarFish Medical takes part in the Festival of Trees, a community event that raises funds for B.C. Children’s Hospital. This year was no exception and StarFish team (comprised of Steve, Christian, Ted, and Debbie, plus a host of StarFish advisors ;- ) went all out with their creative skills and created a ‘living tree’, complete with a heart at its centre and ‘blood’ pumping all around its boughs. It even has an audible heartbeat! The entire effect was very cool and the judges seemed to think so as well since they honoured us with the “Best Decorated Tree” award.

For those of you who are interested in the nitty gritty engineering/design details of how the tree was decorated, Steve and Christian have come through for you.


Notes from Steve

The idea was originally just based on the blood pumping around inside clear tubes concept. From there we thought of adding the heart and blood bags to make a more complete theme for the tree.

To create the visible pumping effect I knew that we needed to have a bright red liquid and a 50/50 ratio of air and liquid inside the tube so that you could easily see the movement. I started by using a steady flow pump but this did not work because the air bubbles all gathered in one spot and the pump only worked when it was primed with fluid. My next attempt was to use a voice coil to drive a 60ml syringe. I did not get the power or the displacement required out of the voice coil, and did not want to use a large expensive one to increase the power. I finally borrowed a gear motor from Allan and mad a bracket which cycled the plunger of the cylinder in and out with the rotation of the motor shaft. This worked very well to pressurize the tube of air and liquid and create a visible motion of the fake blood.

The team combined this moving fluid tube with white gauze bandage on the tree to create a stunning effect. Christian rigged up a sub-woofer with the sound of his own beating heart which added an extra level of experience to the theme, while Cam provided a model heart centerpiece in the middle of the tree.

Notes from Christian

  • The heartbeat that you hear is mine and is from the work I did previously in developing my own electronic stethoscope
  • Heartbeat sound was taken at the third left intercostal space (Erb’s point), where the most pronounced heartbeat is usually heard (especially S2)
  • The sound was recorded using a prototype wireless electronic stethoscope
  • There is a subwoofer in a box that is playing the sound
  • Red and white lighting were chosen to best accentuate the plastic veins around the tree and the gauze

FLL Competition

Lego, robots, and science – What’s not to love?

Kyle Cameron at FLLWe admit it, we’re suckers for Lego. After all, what industrial designer, engineer, or physicist can resist the allure of all that plastic potential? Add robotics, a science theme and kids to the mix and you’ve got an event that we wouldn’t miss for the world. If you haven’t heard of First Lego League, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s a worldwide organization that holds an annual competition for kids aged 9-13 to flex their research and problem solving skills and come up with a project and Lego robot that addresses a particular scientific area.

Last year the theme was medical devices (yes, we were pretty excited by that) and this year the theme was food safety. As always, we were happy to donate resources to this cause, but the best part for us, by far, was having the opportunity to attend the event as judges and spectators and get to talk to the kids about their projects. The enthusiasm, energy, and intelligence the kids displayed was fantastic. We took a few photos, but really, you had to be there to get the full effect. Keep an eye out for an FLL event in your neighborhood or check out this link for more information:

Empress Tree

Who knew that excess wiring and circuit boards could help sick kids?

StarFish Medical Christmas Tree 2011When StarFish was invited to decorate a corporate Christmas tree to raise funds for B.C. Children’s Hospital, we jumped at the chance. After raiding the inventory room for interesting bits and pieces and finding some great photos of client projects from Marketing, we were all set. Of course, no StarFish tree would be complete without a full host of StarFish Christmas ornaments from years past, including the ever popular sound activated LED ornaments. These were a big hit with all the kids and adults who came to view our tree and scored us big points with the event judges!

There’s still time to vote for the StarFish Christmas tree at the Festival of Trees website. Check out our page on that site here:

Scott's Icy Dip

StarFish President, Scott Phillips, Takes an Icy Dip to Raise Money for the Mustard Seed

Our intrepid leader joined another 14 of Victoria’s local tech sector leaders in jumping into the icy waters at Fisherman’s wharf to raise money for the Mustard Seed food bank. Known as the Harbour Hop, this is the 4th year for the annual event. In addition to much heckling and good-natured dares, the brave group of divers raised $13,500.00 for the very worthy cause. Way to go Scott, you are brave in more ways than one!