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Once Upon a Startup: Preemptor AI

Preemptor AI has come a long way since its inception in 2018. What started initially as compliance software to help colleges and universities catch plagiarism in the act has morphed into innovative technology promoting a unique “culture of originality.”  Launched in 2019 by co-founders Midierson Maia and Bill Ross, Preemptor AI uses artificial intelligence to detect plagiarism, impersonation and lack of originality in academics through what could be considered a genetic signature: typing cadence.

For international students, remotely completing assignments for Canadian colleges and universities can be challenging, especially when English is not their first language. This pressure often results in students copying and pasting information or purchasing assignments from third parties to submit as their work. This is difficult for post-secondary institutions to catch when their systems detect plagiarism based only on similarities in text. Rather than catch plagiarism in the act, Preemptor AI helps to cut the problem at its roots.



Preemptor first heard of Spark Centre while working as a professor in Brazil in 2019. At the time, co-founder Midierson Maia was finding the Brazilian innovation environment harsh, burdened by multiple bureaucracies and making innovation a complicated process. At the Câmara de Comercio Brasil Canadá event in São Paulo, Brazil, Midierson was introduced to President and CEO of Spark Centre, Sherry Colbourne, from whom he learned about the myriad ways Spark Centre supported innovation and startups in Canada. That conversation inspired Midierson to immigrate to Canada in 2020 and apply for the Start Up Visa Program. This federal program assists international entrepreneurs in high-growth sectors to relocate, launch and scale their businesses in Canada.

“When I met Spark Centre for the first time in Brazil, I was impressed with the amazing opportunities Canada offered for my startup Preemptor AI.” Midierson says, “One of the most attractive opportunities was the vibrant innovation ecosystem Durham Region has and the great support given by the Canadian Federal and Provincial governments. Spark Centre changed my entire life on that day by providing me with the necessary information and support to thrive in North America.”



Having the right connections can make all the difference for an international startup launching a product or service in Canada. Once he was accepted to the Startup Visa Program, Midierson began to work with Spark Centre, which placed Preemptor AI in the right places at the right time. Through exclusive showcase events facilitated by Spark Centre like TechEx, introductions to valuable facilities in Spark Centre’s network like Durham College, Ontario Tech University and Trent University, opportunities to develop strategic partnerships with government and potential clients, Preemptor AI made connections that enabled them to break into the Canadian market.

Spark Centre also connected Preemptor AI with its team of Advisors to provide expert guidance in the areas of Intellectual Property and Marketing.

“One of the best things about Spark Centre is the power of their connections.” says Midierson, “For Preemptor AI, those connections were crucial to getting the first pilots in Canada. Another great thing about being supported by Spark is credibility. It helped us to garner more trust when negotiating a contract.”



After running a successful pilot in 2021 with Centennial College, Preemptor AI changed its course. Based on feedback from its pilot partner, Preemptor AI pivoted from fighting plagiarism to encouraging originality. Preemptor AI determined that the ultimate solution for overcoming plagiarism and impersonation in school was to change the mindset of the students early on. The startup now uses its artificial intelligence to help students prove their originality with an “Originality Score” — a score that can be seen by colleges and universities that use Preemptor AI during the consideration process for school admission, scholarships and bursaries. The higher the Originality Score a student has, the better.


High School students who use Preemptor AI to complete assignments build up their Originality Score long before applying to post-secondary institutions. After providing a sample of their typing cadence in their online profile, AI can identify that student’s typing pattern through pressure on the keyboard, rhythm and more. With this typing cadence, Preemptor AI can determine whether it is indeed that student completing the uploaded assignment or someone else.


If the student’s typing cadence matches, with each project completed, the student accumulates “originality points” that are added to their profile that can be redeemed for fun items like college attire, free coffee, movie passes and more. Post-secondary institutions can view a student’s academic profile and originality score and be assured that they are recruiting a qualified student.

A lot has happened since that pivot and quickly. Preemptor AI has garnered a contract with Centennial College and established a new pilot project with Centennial College and the city of Farroupilha in Brazil. In January of 2022, Midierson Maia, Founder of Preemptor AI, also received his Permanent Residency!

With a growing list of accomplishments, Preemptor AI is now developing software for and planning to launch a new application that will provide opportunities to high school students from emerging countries to prove their originality to Colleges and Universities in Canada.

Midierson Maia had this to say when asked what advice he had for fellow international startups: “For entrepreneurs and startups looking for a new country to invest and live, I highly recommend Ontario, Canada. More importantly, I strongly recommend applying through the Startup Visa Program and working with Spark Centre to receive their outstanding and necessary support.”


Spark Centre
Helping innovative companies start, grow and succeed. Spark Commercialization and Innovation Centre is one of eighteen not-for-profit Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) that form part of the Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE). The centre works to improve competitiveness and visibility of Durham Region and Northumberland County as a world-class innovation cluster. Spark Centre works with clients to develop individualized plans for success. We connect start-ups to business and research networks, learning tools, business coaching, mentorship, and access to funding and investment.

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