There is something special happening in Ontario. Did you know that Ontario is home to more than 800 neuroscience researchers? With so many bright minds focused on the brain, there is tremendous opportunity for growth and leadership in this area.
On September 27, 2016, OBI held its second annual NeuroTech Ontario Showcase in partnership with the City of Mississauga, and Johnson & Johnson Innovation, with support from Eli Lilly Canada, Shire, and AGE-WELL. The event featured brain-related technology from over 20 Ontario-based start-ups. What kinds of technology were on display? Headbands that monitor for seizures, exercise bikes and video games for children with Cerebral Palsy, and software that can quickly and accurately detect signs of cognitive impairment from a sample of speech—just to name a few.
Among the companies who were featuring their products stood many innovators who are part of OBI’s ONtrepreneurs (Ontario Neurotech Entrepreneurs) Program. The name of the program is reflective of the emerging innovation ecosystem here in Ontario. The ONtrepreneurs Program is a one-year program that awards $50,000 in cash along with mentorship and training support for entrepreneurs developing neurotechnologies. By driving the entrepreneurial spirit in Ontario, the program aims to turn an innovative idea into reality to ultimately improve peoples’ lives and brain health.
To-date, the ONtrepreneurs Program has supported 34 individuals who have gone on to secure over $17.2M in follow-on funding. These companies now form an integral part of the emerging neurotech cluster in Ontario—creating jobs for themselves and for others.
To celebrate the conclusion of our 2015 cohort of ONtrepreneurs, they competed in OBI’s first ever Pitch Challenge to showcase their skills for a chance to win the grand prize valued at over $2000 including a cash prize and a one-year membership with the Neurotechnology Industry Organization.
Selecting the winners was no easy feat. The first place winner and runner-up were selected by a panel of expert judges and audience members who submitted their votes online.
Vera Nenadovic of BrainsView Inc. had the winning pitch at the Pitch Challenge, showcasing her technology’s ability to monitor function and predict outcome after injury. Jonathan Lung of Sojourn Labs was the runner-up who pitched a comfortable, safe, and feature-filled electric bicycle that can accommodate individuals with movement disorders like Parkinson’s.
Congratulations to all of the ONtrepreneurs who participated in the Pitch Challenge! If you are interested in becoming an ONtrepreneur, applications for the next round will open on January 11, 2017.