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Illuminating alumni

Luminus Award to be presented for the first time since 2006

By Heidi Wicks

Memorial University alumni sparkle all over the world every day.

A black rectangle with the words "Alumni Tribute Awards: Celebrating excellence Memorial University" in purple and white text.

But every once in a while, a group of graduates shine together and affect the world.

Luminus Award

Each year, Memorial celebrates outstanding alumni with the Alumnus of the Year Award, the J.D. Eaton Award, the Outstanding Community Service Award and the Horizon Award.

Visit here to learn about the 2021 Alumni Tribute recipients.

In rare cases where an alumnus or group of alumni don’t quite fit the descriptions of the usual Alumni Tribute Awards, a unique recognition is designated by the Memorial University Alumni Tribute Awards Nominations Selection Committee.

In 2006 the Luminus Award was presented to Team Gushue: Drs. Brad Gushue (BBA’04, LLD’06), Mark Nichols (B.Kin.’05, LLD’06), Mike Adam (LLD’06), Jamie Korab (LLD’06), Russ Howard (LLD’06) and Toby McDonald (BA’72, LLD’06).

The men received honorary doctorate degrees from Memorial in that same year.

This year, Verafin founders Jamie King (Dip.Tech.(MI)’94, B.Eng.’99), Brendan Brothers (B.Eng.’02) and Raymond Pretty (B.Eng.’01) will receive the rare recognition.

From left are Raymond Pretty, Jamie King and Brendan Brothers.
From left are Raymond Pretty, Jamie King and Brendan Brothers.
Photo: Submitted

Stellar startup

Founded in 2003, Verafin joined Genesis, Memorial’s business incubator.

Mr. King, Mr. Brothers and Mr. Pretty applied the technology they used for the mining industry and their research abilities to examine the world of financial crime.

The company’s first customer, the Newfoundland and Labrador Credit Union, helped by providing valuable insight into the market and fraud and money laundering challenges in the financial services sector.

Michelle Simms, president and chief executive officer of Genesis, noted that since its inception, Verafin has made a global impact.

In 2019 Verafin raised the largest capital deal ever in Canadian history. The mammoth $515-million investment came at a time when the company was quietly growing to more than 3,000 bank and credit union customers across North America.

“The founders and their fast-growing team turned from a technology-focused company to a purpose-driven company,” said Ms. Simms.

“The link between the financial institution’s ability to see criminal activity and the impact they can have in stopping crimes, such as human trafficking, became apparent. They built a team of crime fighters.”

Purpose-driven, philanthropic powerhouse

Verafin’s internal charity, VeraCares, provides fundraising and volunteer support for local organizations like Choices for Youth, Thrive, the Blue Door program, SeniorsNL, the Janeway Children’s Hospital Foundation, the School Lunch Association and more.

The company has supported more than 70 charities, raised more than $421,272 in donations and volunteered 572 hours. Staying true to its purpose-driven mission, VeraCares also helps those victimized by financial crimes like human trafficking.

Memorial has greatly benefitted from Verafin’s deep commitment to philanthropy for many years.

The team has never forgotten its roots and strengthens the startup community by supporting the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship, Genesis, infrastructure and various programs, scholarships and awards.

They have made an immense impact on not only Memorial University, but on the future of Newfoundland and Labrador.

On Nov. 19, 2020, Nasdaq announced its intent to acquire Verafin for US$2.75 billion, marrying Verafin’s comprehensive suite of anti-fraud management products with Nasdaq’s established technology leadership and reach.

Charting future stars

Ms. Simms says Verafin will remain firm in Newfoundland and Labrador, and firm in its roots as a business born from Genesis.

“The Nasdaq-Verafin agreement commits Nasdaq to work closely with Memorial to grow the university’s scholarship program, enhance its co-operative education programs and fund and supervise at least six Mitacs fellowships annually for master’s and PhD students,” she said.

“Nasdaq has also committed to investing US$1 million in a research and development partnership with Genesis. We couldn’t be more ecstatic.”

Verafin’s steadfast reputation as innovators, educators and lifelong learners who are continuously giving back to the tech pioneers of the future is nothing short of a supernova.

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