Hub Spotlight: Birchwell Solutions

Posted on Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

Written by The John F. Wood Centre For Business and Student Enterprise

Birchwell Solutions Founder, James Lyster, posing with the Sani Cube

James Lyster moves quick, but he’s not a runner. James is an entrepreneur who has the determination, drive and speed of operating as an Olympic sprinter.

James Lyster is a 5th year Engineer Student at UofG, and he went from being a student to the founder of his own company in just 3 months.  James owns and operates Birchwell Solutions.

Birchwell Solutions is a company that facilitates the development and production of the SaniCube UV-Disinfection Chamber. The SaniCube is an adaptive solution to effectively sanitize common handheld objects in a safe, efficient and affordable way. The SaniCube is an enclosure that uses a UV/Hydrogen Peroxide process to sanitize the contents within. This process breaks up genetic material of pathogens sticking to the surfaces or floating in the surrounding air, leaving them unable to function or reproduce.

After coming home from a day of errands during the Covid-19 pandemic James realized there was no efficient way for him to disinfect small hand held objects (his wallet, keys and phone). James leveraged that moment of inspiration to sketch out an idea. And within just a couple of months James had a functioning prototype, partnerships with other industry experts on UofG campus and had developed a working relationship with a manufacturer.

 To read more about James’ journey and the advice he has for other entrepreneurs read through our exclusive interview!

How did you come up with Birchwell Solutions?

After a day of running errands during a pandemic, I realized there was no easy way to sanitize things like my keys, wallet, and so many other objects. I began searching for any current solutions to this problem and discovered the possibilities of UV-C Germicidal light. I was immediately inspired by the idea and was confident I could make a robust, intelligent, and safe UV-C chamber for a larger variety of applications. 

What motivated you to take the next step and apply to the Hub?

I applied to the hub when I had heard some amazing things about it through a friend. I believed the program could help develop my idea and product into something greater.

What do you hope to get out of the Hub?

As an Engineering student, there are entrepreneurial skills that I am still trying to figure out. My hope is that with the Hub Incubators' startup knowledge and expertise, I can further develop these skills.

Do you have any advice for someone with a business idea in mind, but are not sure what to do next?

Start small and take it one step at a time. Too much time is wasted waiting for someone to give you an opportunity, create one for yourself!


Housed within the John F. Wood Centre for Business & Student Enterprise (Wood Centre), the Hub is a business incubator designed to support early-stage business ideas with high-potential, but unproven business models. The goal of the Hub is to provide University of Guelph students (undergraduate and graduate) and alumni the opportunity to build a successful business enterprise in a supportive learning environment.

The Hub has a tiered program that ensures a good mix of start-up companies at varying stages of growth. “Hub Start” is for ventures still getting their idea off the ground. These ventures typically have a great team and a great idea, but still have not demonstrated product-market fit with traction. “Hub Build” is for ventures with traction looking to refine their business model and/or scale.


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