We take brain health for granted. We tend not to think about it until something changes and a once simple task becomes difficult. Remember when you incurred a sports injury and were on bed rest for a few weeks; the time when you were feeling low and struggled to reach out to one of your friends or family members; or imagine you tapping your feet to your favourite song and not being able to stop after. While most of us may recover and return to our former ability, 1 in 3 people affected by a brain disorder live with these challenges.
At OBI, we are in the business of supporting new technology that helps people overcome these challenges and live to the best of their ability. By way of promoting the commercialization of ideas, we are building a neurotechnology cluster in Ontario that empowers people with brain disorders reach their full potential and adapt to their temporary or every day normal. In most cases these innovators are motivated to help someone close to them overcome challenges they are newly facing, resulting in solutions that positively affect the lives of many others.
Marc Elias’ grandmother had difficulty pouring coffee for herself without spilling due to her excessive tremors, he developed the Steadiwear glove that helps reduce the impact of tremors. Elizabeth Audette-Bourdeau was concerned for her grandfather as most residents living in senior care centers suffer from social isolation, she created the Welbie technology allowing senior care staff to monitor and track residents’ social activities. Morgan Rosenberg grew concerned for his own well-being when caring for a loved one, his Supports Health app empowers caregivers with education, therapeutics and peer support. In each case, the solution developed improves the lives of not only their loved ones, but of many living with similar challenges.
These are just a few examples of new homegrown technology emerging from Ontario innovators. As a major contributor to the development of Ontario’s Neurotech Cluster, our role is to help the people who help people. We do this by funding people with good ideas, and integrating their companies into an ecosystem of researchers, clinicians, industry partners, and patients to help their ideas take root and succeed.
Each year, we fund and promote the commercialization of early stage neurotech through our ONtrepreneurs and Neurotech Early Research and Development (NERD) programs. Standing now at 71 companies, OBI’s portfolio represents a significant portion of neurotech activity in Ontario. We will be onboarding a new cohort of ONtrepreneurs shortly and we invite you to come meet them, as well as other neurotech companies at our second NeuroTech Ontario Showcase in Waterloo on June 20.
True to our goals of collaboration, we encourage and enable entrepreneurs to work with researchers and members of the patient community to accelerate and improve the development of neurotech. A recent collaboration between Awake Labs and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital will bring new technology to the autism community that helps recognise early signs of anxiety and know when to apply relaxation strategies. The “Anxiety Meter”, a patented technology, will empower people with autism and their trusted care teams by supporting them in addressing anxiety and improve life quality.
OBI’s efforts are directed to developing solutions that help overcome challenges related to brain health. Like Marc and his grandmother or Morgan caring for his partner, we see neurotechnology as one avenue to improve the lives of the 1 in 3 Ontarians affected by brain disorders. With every new company and innovative solution, Ontario’s neurotech cluster will help people maximize their abilities and improve brain health in Ontario.