TORONTO (May 11, 2016) – Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC, today announced the opening of JLABS @ Toronto, a new 40,000-square-foot life sciences incubator, providing entrepreneurs shared lab space and…
BresoTec, formerly known as ApneaDx, also among top five finalists
TORONTO, August 11, 2015 – Legworks‘ next-generation prosthetic knee took first place in Ontario Centres of Excellence’s (OCE’s) Parapan Am Games-affiliated Accessibility Tech Pitch competition. The company immediately said it would use the $20,000 award to fit 200 amputees in developing countries with its device.
Legworks was selected from 18 participants in a two-day elimination pitch competition – one of the features of the Government of Ontario’s Accessibility Innovation Showcase held at MaRS Discovery District from August 8 to 10, 2015.
Legworks was one of five companies to make it to the final round of the competition.
Other finalists were Eightfold Technologies, MyndTec, BresoTec Inc., and Komodo OpenLabs. BresoTec Inc., formerly known as ApneaDx Inc., is a MaRS Innovation start-up company spun-off in partnership with the University Health Network’s Toronto Rehabilitation Institute and is developing a medical device to allow patients to determine whether they have sleep apnea without having to visit a sleep clinic.
MaRS Innovation and its member institutions are is profiled in International Innovation‘s July issue (#191) in a feature interview with Dr. Rafi Hofstein, MI’s president and CEO, written by Rosemary Peters.
The article is posted on the publication’s website and viewable through a digital interface (pages 80 and 81).
Here’s an excerpt from Dr. Hofstein’s comments:
“Canada’s academic research community is internationally highly competitive, but it has been argued that its scientific commercial success tags behind other countries such as the U.S. and the U.K. While this remains a matter of debate, I do agree that we need to continually encourage additional sources of seed capital to join is so as to allow for accelerated advancement of early-stage technologies. Industry needs to become much more engaged in advancing early-stage (and promising!) technologies emerging from the academic sector, which are usually young and in significant attention, navigation, management expertise and seed capital provisions. These are areas of rising importance in Canada, as many innovations fall into the ‘valley of death’ due to a lack of proper funding, or they leave the country and flourish in the U.S. where funding is more abundant.
TORONTO (May 27, 2015) – LegWorks Inc., backed with a $2 million blend of private and Government of Canada investments catalyzed by Grand Challenges Canada, is a new Toronto-based company that will contribute to a better life for amputees in developing countries.
The LegWorks AT-knee was covered in the Toronto Star on June 1, 2015 in “Great advances being made in assistive technology” by Kate Allen and in Healio Orthotics & Prosthetics News on June 2.
The LegWorks “All-Terrain Knee” (AT-Knee) is a safe, high-functioning, durable, affordable prosthetic knee joint developed at Toronto’s Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. It enables lower-limb amputees to walk more efficiently, safely and comfortably. Its patented design provides incredible stability, is easy to fit and maintain, and can even be used in harsh environments, including water.
“With the AT-Knee and LegWorks, it is our goal to begin to provide more universal access to better prosthetic care for individuals living with amputations around the world,” said Jan Andrysek, scientist in the Bloorview Research Institute at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital. “We want to make high-quality and well-functioning prosthetic devices affordable and accessible for the many individuals whose needs are currently left unmet.”
In trials, early users in 10 countries reported a 95 per cent preference for the relatively low-cost AT-Knee to more expensive existing technologies. Developed with a $100,000 Grand Challenges Canada seed grant awarded in 2012 to the Bloorview Research Institute, the AT-Knee easily outperformed existing technologies under rigorous conditions in El Salvador, Chile and Myanmar.
With the new funding, LegWorks will mass produce its innovative, affordable prosthetic knee, the All-Terrain Knee (AT-Knee), the functionality and durability of which makes it ideal for amputees living in the developing world. The $2 million investment deal includes a loan via Grand Challenges Canada of up to $1 million (of which $405,000 has been dispersed), matched by MaRS Innovation, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital, Ontario Centres of Excellence and a group of private angel investors. With the $1 million expected from private investors and foundations matched by federal funds, the project will receive an anticipated $2 million to scale-up the success of the company.
In the first five years, LegWorks expects 37,000 units to be sold via distributors, NGOs, prosthetic clinics and government rehab facilities, in both high-income countries and the developing world.
“Research labs across Ontario are full of ingenious – and even life-saving – inventions. Unfortunately, many of them never make it to market,” writes Wendy Leung in “These six great neuroscience ideas could make the leap from lab to market” in the November 20, 2014 edition of the Globe and Mail.
MaRS Innovation, which was created to help researchers solve exactly this problem, has a project with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital that was featured in Leung’s article. Asim Siddiqi founded the anxiety meter app for children with autism.
Siddiqi recently competed in the Ontario Brain Institute’s OBI Entrepreneurs Program, funded in part by the Ontario Centres of Excellence.
Here’s an excerpt:
As much as 80 per cent of children with autism suffer from anxiety, but they often have trouble recognizing and communicating their anxiety states, Siddiqi explains. “Just like we sometimes have difficulty ourselves recognizing when we’re kind of stress-eating and things like that, they have it a little worse than we do.”
Using sensors on the body, Dymaxia’s anxiety meter picks up physiological signals, such as heart rate and skin conductance – or the amount of electric current that passes through sensors on the skin, which increases with stress and body temperature. It then processes those signals and provides feedback of the child’s anxiety state in real time on a mobile phone or tablet.
This op-ed on Canadian biotechnology and the knowledge economy appeared in The Hill-Times (subscription required), Canada’s politics and government newsweekly, September 9:
Obesity, cancer, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, or the more general stresses of an aging population: no matter which area of concern holds our collective gaze from moment to moment, improving health outcomes and healthcare is the No. 1 challenge for the world’s economy.
Canada has the holistic approach and translational research necessary to address health care’s pervasive challenges, with particular strengths in biotechnology.
In 2007, the Government of Canada made advancing translational research a top priority through the Science and Technology Strategy, with emphasis on cancer, metabolic disorders and, most recently, neurology, as part of the government’s response to the burdensome realities of neurodegenerative disorders.
Scientific research has made significant progress in unraveling the underlying causes of disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, but translating these findings into useful clinical treatments is the key to attaining meaningful accomplishments. Only clinical treatment successes will alleviate pressure on the economy.
Transformational research is the essential first step in this process, but even more importantly, it needs to be put in the hands of those who can translate it into realistic and useful outcomes for patients in particular and society in general.
Thanks to research analytics that capture publications, citations, and other significant metrics, we know Canadian researchers punch above their weight, particularly in medical research. Canada’s challenge is not the quality or quantity of our research ideas but our ability to commercialize those ideas and translate them into market-ready products.
Aware of and concerned by this gap between fundamental basic research and useful patient, social, and economic outcomes, the Canadian government established the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) program in 2007. Part of the internationally-recognized Networks of Centres of Excellence suite of programs, the CECR program is a unique collaboration between the three federal granting agencies (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), along with Industry Canada, and Health Canada.
Designed to bridge the challenging gap between innovation and commercialization, the CECR program matches clusters of research expertise with the business community to share the knowledge and resources that bring innovations to market faster.
MaRS Innovation was among the first CECRs to be created in 2008, largely based on the founding belief of its members that Toronto is a fertile research land for precisely this kind of translational activity.
Every six weeks, MaRS Innovation’s marketing and communications manager writes a guest post for the MaRS Discovery District blog profiling MI’s activities or one of our start-up companies. You can read the original post on the MaRS blog.
By offering early-stage funding in tandem with hands-on management, business development, mentorship and intellectual property protection strategy, MI acts as a commercialization agent for its members and researchers.
Earlier this year, the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada awarded MI $14.95 million to continue its mandate as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR), matched by $25 million from membership fees and private sector investments.
So what does that success mean for MI’s ability to serve the needs of academic entrepreneurs based in Toronto?
Networks of Centres of Excellence recognizes strength of partnership between MI and its 16 member institutions
MaRS Innovation (MI), created in 2008, bridges the chasm between these early-stage technologies and successful start-up companies and licensable technologies. By offering early-stage funding in tandem with hands-on management, mentorship and IP strategy protection, MI acts as a commercialization agent for its 16 member institutions.
The Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) has recognized the increasing strength of this novel partnership by awarding MI $14.95 million in funding through the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) program.