Manitoba company creates PET inserts for MRI
January 5, 2022
WINNIPEG – The Manitoba Technology Accelerator (MTA) together with its angel investor network, the Manitoba Knights, are injecting close to $1 million into two Manitoba companies with well-developed technologies and clearly identified global markets.
The recipients of the recent cash infusion – Cubresa and Power HV – both have the potential to become $100-million companies, MTA’s chief executive, Marshall Ring, told the Winnipeg Free Press.
Cubresa makes PET (positron emission tomography) units for brain scans that can be installed in existing MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machines.
One of the company’s products, the BrainPET, is a PET insert for a 3T MRI scanner that provides simultaneous PET/MR imaging capacity. The BrainPET is currently under development with the aim of providing a higher PET spatial resolution and sensitivity than commercially available whole-body hybrid systems.
A custom 32-channel coil will allow for high-resolution MR images and can be integrated with major vendors’ MRI scanners.
According to the company, Cubresa’s acquisition and reconstruction software will provide users with the flexible, high-quality data for research and clinical applications, and can be visualized on any commercial data visualization software.
The chief science officer at Cubresa is Dr. John Saunders, who has over 50 years of experience in technology, in particular with MRI imaging systems. John was the founder and original CEO of IMRIS. He was one of the inventors of the original intraoperative MRI scanner and later served as CSO of IMRIS.
Power HV makes patented high-efficiency bushing used in electrical transmission infrastructures as well as sensors that are about one-tenth the price of existing sensors used in electrical grids. The company has a manufacturing operation in Reston, Man.
Both companies already have customers lined up with revenue already established or just about to. Power HV is generating revenue in South Africa where its founders were based until moving to Manitoba a couple of years ago and Cubresa has shipped its first $1-million unit and has a couple more sales booked.
After becoming one of the federal government’s designated organizations to deliver the Startup Visa (SUV) program the MTA, a not-for-profit entity, now has a total of 350 active clients from the program under contract and a growing balance of surplus cash in its bank account.
MTA is now planning to use that cash to invest in its homegrown startups alongside the successful angel network which has been providing seed and growth capital for MTA’s homegrown companies for a few years now.
In a busy year-end spurt of activity MTA invested $400,000 in both Cubresa and Power HV and a pitch to the Manitoba Knights for the same amount was oversubscribed in both cases.
The two companies plan to use the capital raised to scale up production.
“These investments are to be used to scale up manufacturing,” said Ring. “It’s not for research. This is growth capital for both companies.”
The distinction is significant in that the technology has already been developed and proven out and customers have been identified.
Cubresa, which expects to grow from 14 employees to 35 by the end of 2022, has been developing its technology for close to five years. During that time it introduced a smaller version of the unit targeted at small animals used in the pre-clinical research labs.
James Schellenberg, the CEO of Cubresa, said his technology offers “the highest spatial resolution of the brain that you can get from this the type of imager.”
The company’s strategy always was to start with small animals and grow into the human market. Along the way the company has succeeded in raising angel capital a few times.
“Cubresa has raised money on a few occasions,” Schellenberg said. “Manitobans have been very good to Cubresa.”