Investment of $200,000 boosts neurotech sector
September 2, 2020
TORONTO – The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) introduced its latest cohort of 2020 ONtrepreneurs – recipients of Canada’s single largest award for early-stage neurotech entrepreneurs. The award will help accelerate the commercialization of their technology through access to funding, resources, and mentorship.
With a focus on promoting brain health, the OBI ONtrepreneurs Program was established in 2012 to provide successful candidates with an investment of $50,000. In addition, they receive 12-months of training opportunities, one-on-one mentorship and commercialization support in order to help launch and grow their ventures.
“New medical technologies offer enormous potential benefits to the patients who need them and to society as a whole but the commercialization path from concept to the clinic – or wherever else the solutions will be deployed – is challenging, especially for early-stage entrepreneurs,” said Aaron Weinroth, OBI ONtrepreneurs Program judge and mentor. “The OBI ONtrepreneurs program’s much needed financial support, personalized mentoring, and training will advance these outstanding local neurotechnology innovators through this delicate phase of their journeys, helping to ensure their success and further strengthen Ontario’s world-class neurotech cluster.”
Matthew Rosato (pictured), president and founder, PROVA Innovations Ltd., joins Iana Dogel, co-founder, TeleMag Health Solutions, Rozhin Yousefi, co-founder, CerebTalk and Christopher Ahuja, CEO, Inteligex in being named OBI’s 2020 ONtrepreneurs.
“I would like to congratulate this year’s OBI ONtrepreneurs on their achievements in early-stage neurotech entrepreneurship,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “This year’s award winners are a testament to Ontario’s world-class research and innovation sector, and I look forward to their continued success as they work to launch and grow their ideas.”
Rosato was a former aerospace engineer and business executive prior to making a career shift with the goal of supporting his son with cerebral palsy.
During scheduled physical therapy sessions, Rosato would watch his son make significant gains with his mobility and gait pattern. However, when they returned home, he noticed that without the oversight from the therapist, his son would revert to old habits. Rosato decided to transfer his skills by creating a wearable shoe cover with the ability to measure foot position and deliver bio-feedback through the foot’s sole.
The product is positioned to ultimately give his son, and thousands of others with cerebral palsy and other motor impairments, the ability to take the lessons they learn in physical therapy and make sure they are employed in day-to-day life while also providing useful data for clinician and researchers.
As an OBI ONtrepreneur he is now one step closer to bringing this to market.
“I wanted to make life easier for my child, and I was in a unique position to use my professional expertise to make that happen,” says Rosato, who lives in Hamilton, Ontario. “Launching PROVA Innovations has allowed me to merge the first-hand experience with my son and my engineering background, but what I was lacking was the expertise in neurology and life sciences to make sure we were on the right track. The partnership opportunities, training and mentoring from OBI will have a profound impact on our business’ trajectory.”
“The OBI ONtrepreneurs Program is one of our most popular initiatives; it allows early-stage entrepreneurs to bring their ingenious neurotech ideas to life and encourages other like-minded individuals to follow suit,” said Tom Mikkelsen, president & scientific director, OBI. “Ontario is rapidly establishing itself as a global leader in neurotechnology, and we are proud enablers of discovery and innovation that improve the lives of those living with brain disorders.”
Ontario ranks in the top five globally for science productivity and is home to over 800 neuroscientists – one of the highest concentrations of professionals in the world. The OBI ONtrepreneurs Program has played a key role in advancing the province’s standing as a leader in neurotechnology development with a total of $2.85M in funding given out since the inception of the program. Currently, OBI has 81 neurotech companies in its growing portfolio through ONtrepreneurs and NERD Programs.
- Christopher Ahuja – Inteligex – is developing precision stem cell and drug-based therapies for the treatment of traumatic spinal cord injuries and other diseases of the central nervous system.
- Iana Dogel – TeleMag Health Solutions – is developing a portable repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) device – a non-invasive form of brain stimulation to treat depression.
- Rozhin Yousefi – CerebTalk – is developing a brain-computer interface (BCI), specifically for people with severe motor impairments enabling its users to control electronic devices including laptops and smartphones.
- Matthew Rosato – PROVA Innovations Ltd. – is developing a suite of smart wearables that aid in motor control and neurorehabilitation for children and adults with limited mobility due to a brain injury or neurological disorder.
About the Ontario Brain Institute
The Ontario Brain Institute is a provincially funded, not-for-profit organization that accelerates discovery and innovation, benefiting both patients and the economy. Our collaborative ‘team science’ approach promotes brain research, commercialization and care by connecting researchers, clinicians, industry, patients, and their advocates to improve the lives of those living with brain disorders. Welcome to Brain Central. Visit www.braininstitute.ca for more information. Follow us on Twitter (@OntarioBrain).
About the OBI ONtrepreneurs Program
OBI currently has 81 neurotech companies in its growing portfolio through ONtrepreneurs and NERD Programs with the ultimate goal of making clinically validated products and services accessible to the community. The ONtrepreneurs Program is Canada’s single largest award that catalyzes early stage entrepreneurs to commercialize brain-related technologies. The NERD (Neurotech Early Research & Development) program de-risks follow-on investments in neurotechnologies by providing milestone-based funding to support product development.