Steadiwear wins accessibility tech pitch at OCE Discovery
May 9, 2018
TORONTO – Steadiwear Inc. was selected as the winner of the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE)’s $20,000 Accessibility Tech Pitch Competition. The award was announced earlier this month at the Discovery 2018 conference by Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science (MRIS), in partnership with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario (ADO).
Five Ontario-based accessibility and assistive technology companies were chosen as finalists to pitch to a panel of judges. Each company had 10 minutes to pitch their product or service to the accessibility community, the innovation ecosystem, and the judges, followed by a 10-minute question-and-answer period.
Steadiwear Inc. was selected as the winner and will receive a $20,000 award to assist with further development of their assistive technology solution.
Steadiwear caters to the dexterity needs of Essential Tremor and Parkinson’s disease patients. Their aim is to improve independence and quality of life through the development of assistive device technology.
Mark Elias (pictured) got the idea for Steadiwear after visiting his grandmother in France several years ago.
“I saw her spilling coffee on herself helplessly, and it was very painful for me,” said Elias, who graduated from U of T with a bachelor’s degree in applied science and civil engineering. “When I returned to Toronto, I made it my personal mission to solve this problem.”
His solution? Elias started by investigating the tuned dampening systems used to make buildings more earthquake resistant. He eventually settled on a ball joint surrounded by a non-Newtonian fluid – not unlike the state-shifting slurry one gets by mixing cornstarch with water.
The resulting device, developed with co-founder Emile Maamary at U of T’s Impact Centre accelerator, allows patients to move their hands voluntarily, but stiffens up when it encounters the quick, jerky movements associated with tremors.
That’s in stark contrast to existing tremor treatments that either rely on powerful drugs, which can have unpleasant side effects, or weighted gloves that impede voluntary movement and cause muscle strain.
“Congratulations to Steadiwear for the creative thinking, hard work and tenacity that helped them win this year’s Accessibility Tech Pitch Competition,” said Reza Moridi. “Ontario is proud to support innovations like this one, which promises to make a real difference in people’s lives.”
The Accessibility Innovation Showcase (AIS) and Tech Pitch Competition showcased industry and entrepreneurs creating ground-breaking technologies that are improving quality of life for people with disabilities. Each year at Discovery, companies focused on accessibility and assistive technology are provided the opportunity to display their innovations, increase awareness of their work and products, and network with the wider innovation and accessibility communities.
“On behalf of OCE, I’m honoured to congratulate Steadiwear and the finalists in this year’s competition for their exceptional work developing innovative technology in the accessibility sector,” said Dr. Tom Corr, president and CEO, OCE. “Removing barriers in order to create a more inclusive society is important both to OCE and our partners in government, and innovation in accessibility and assistive technology goes a long way to achieving that goal.”
Named Canada’s Best Trade Show in 2010, 2011, 2016, and 2017, and celebrating 13 years of bold, new ideas, OCE’s Discovery is Canada’s premier innovation showcase. It brings together the best and brightest minds in industry, academia, investment and government to showcase leading-edge technologies, best practices and research in the areas of energy, fintech, cleantech, the environment, advanced health, digital media, information and communication technologies and advanced manufacturing. The annual conference and showcase attracts more than 3,500 attendees and 500 exhibitors.
For more information on the Accessibility Innovation Showcase (AIS), the Accessibility Tech Pitch Competition and Discovery 2018, please visit www.ocediscovery.com.