$300,000 awarded to launch startups and commercialize neurotechnologies

Year five of the newly rebranded ONtrepreneurs (Ontario Neurotech Entrepreneurs) Program will help six neurotech entrepreneurs and their startups launch brain-related technologies onto the market.

TORONTO, Aug. 8, 2016 /CNW/ - The Ontario Brain Institute [OBI] today announced the 2016 winners of its ONtrepreneurs Program to help Ontario neurotech entrepreneurs take their ideas "from the lab to the marketplace." With the continued success of the entrepreneurs program, it was recently renamed the ONtrepreneurs (Ontario Neurotech Entrepreneurs) Program to better reflect its contributions to growing the NeuroTech Ontario cluster.

ONtrepreneurs were selected from a competition that involved pitching their neurotechnology to a panel of expert judges from organizations including Yocto Law, Biomedical Zone, Emmetros, AGE-WELL, Ironstone Product Development Inc. and OBI.

Since its launch in 2012, 34 ONtrepreneurs have received the $50,000 OBI prize in addition to mentorship from experts and business skills training and workshops.

Said Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, President and Scientific Director of Ontario Brain Institute: "One of OBI's mandates is to speed the commercialization of diagnostic tools and treatments for brain disorders that bear a heavy burden on individuals and on Ontario's economy.  The ONtrepreneurs Program is an innovative way to help achieve that goal."

The six 2016 ONtrepreneurs are:

Liam Kaufman- A computer science and medical sciences graduate from the University of Toronto Liam developed an assessment tool at Winterlight Labs that measures a person's cognitive health by analyzing their recorded speech. Early testing with this technology has shown that it can identify patients with Alzheimer's disease with 82% accuracy.

Robert Brooks- Robert has a mechanical engineering PhD from the University of Toronto, and his research background extends from nuclear physics and robotics to steel manufacturing. At his company, SensOR Medical Laboratory, Robert has created a sensor that helps doctors perform neurosurgery while reducing the risk of tissue damage to patients by giving surgeons real-time feedback and monitoring. This technology can free up surgeons' time, reduce complications, hospital stays, post-operative pain, and help to reduce the cost of quality health care.

Theo Versteegh- As a practicing physiotherapist and a PhD graduate from the University of Western Ontario, Theo has patented a technology called TopSpin360. This is a specialized helmet for neuromuscular neck training that Theo has tested with varsity football players as a preventative tool to help reduce their risk of sustaining a concussion. To date, players who have used the device have not suffered concussions compared to a 15% rate across the rest of the team.

Flora Nasri- A physiology graduate from the University of Toronto, Flora and her team from Queen's University and Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital are commercializing the Liberi "exergame" to help children with cerebral palsy exercise. To address the lack of physical activity in young patients with cerebral palsy, the exergame was designed to improve the overall fitness level of patients in a fun and engaging way.

Arjun Mali- Combining his background in economics and business from McMaster University, and a family history supporting a school for the blind and orphanage in New Delhi, India, Arjun has developed a wearable tool for people with vision impairment. His company, iMerciv, developed a technology that senses obstacles in one's path via a small wearable clip, BuzzClip, which will make life safer and easier for people with vision impairments. Its affordability, versatility and functionality are advantages over currently available products on the market.

Mark Elias- A civil engineer from the University of Toronto and the Chief Technology Officer and CEO of Steadiwear Inc., Mark has created Steadiglove, a glove to reduce tremors associated with movement disorders like Parkinson's disease. With a lower cost than current treatment standards, this wearable device helps persons with tremors perform daily activities with less frustration and more independence to experience a better quality of living.

All awardees will be available for interviews.

About Ontario Brain Institute:

The Ontario Brain Institute is a provincially‐funded, not‐for‐profit research centre seeking to maximize the impact of neuroscience and establish Ontario as a world leader in brain research, commercialization and care. Convergent partnerships are created between researchers, clinicians, industry, patients, and their advocates to foster discovery and deliver innovative products and services that improve the lives of those living with brain disorders.

SOURCE Ontario Brain Institute

Video with caption: "Video: Ontario Brain Institute presents the winners of the 2016 ONtrepreneurs competition.". Video available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnnOOJxDA1w

For further information: Michelle Wilson, Senior Program Lead, Communications, Ontario Brain Institute, 647-872-1215, mwilson@braininstitute.ca

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