Research & Development
OBI cohort funds $700,000 for neurotech start-ups
May 18, 2022
TORONTO – The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) is pleased to announce the inaugural NERVE cohort, a group of seven entrepreneurs funded through Canada’s single largest award for early-stage neurotechnology development.
Formerly known as the Ontario Neurotech Entrepreneurship (ONtrepreneurs) program, the NERVE Program (Neurotech Entrepreneurship to Validate Emerging Innovations) provides $100,000 in funding to each of the Canadian-based entrepreneurs.
They also gain 12 months of training opportunities, one-on-one mentorship, and support in order to help kick-start and grow their neurotech ventures.
The launch of NERVE marks the first year in which OBI’s entrepreneurship program was offered to applicants from across the country.
“Ontario has established itself as a global leader in producing remarkable neurotech innovations that support people living with brain disorders. Given the success that we witnessed for a decade through our provincial program, it has been our distinct pleasure to open up to entrepreneurs across the country,” said Dr. Tom Mikkelsen (pictured), president and scientific director of the Ontario Brain Institute.
He added, “We have been blown away by the talent and innovation that we saw from Canadian applicants and are keen to collaborate with these seven gifted entrepreneurs.”
Through ONtrepreneurs and NERVE, OBI has provided over $3 million in entrepreneurship funding, supported 72 entrepreneurs, and delivered over 20 products to market. These neurotech products support the treatment, care, and diagnoses of brain disorders like depression, autism, and dementia, and leverage OBI’s network of partners and collaborators.
Previously funded entrepreneurs have been able to secure nearly $124 million in follow-on investments, while creating 154 full-time equivalents.
The seven 2022 NERVE entrepreneurs, who participated in a virtual pitch competition streamed at the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation’s annual summit in March, are:
- Gavin Brauer of Pearl Interactives (Ontario), creating video games and apps that empower wellness and learning skills through play – for kids of all abilities,
- Geoff Frost of Raft Digital Therapeutics (Alberta), developing home-based therapeutic exercise for children with spinal muscular atrophy,
- Sarah Lambert of Ora Medical (Quebec), empowering patients with debilitating conditions to improve their walking ability through an AI-powered digital gait trainer, which generates clinically validated programs to enhance personal progress,
- Kramay Patel of Neureka® (Ontario), an epilepsy care platform combining the power of artificial intelligence with the convenience of wearables to empower patients, caregivers, and clinicians with 24/7 holistic care and personalized insights,
- Michael Perreault of Eyful (Quebec), developing technology that uses augmented reality and artificial intelligence to help people with aged-related macular degeneration regain their vision and as a result, their autonomy,
- Nardin Samuel of Cove (Ontario), a company that takes 2D brain data and transforms it into 3D maps that are representative of the brain’s complex networks, and
- Alison Smith of Roga (Ontario), creating a wearable medical device and content platform to manage anxiety.
Participants in this year’s NERVE Program join the existing 89 OBI portfolio companies helping to grow the province’s neurotech cluster and supporting brain health.
The Ontario Brain Institute gratefully acknowledges the support of its NERVE 2022 partners, whose commitment to the NERVE Program demonstrates a collaborative pan-Canadian approach to supporting entrepreneurship in neurotechnology.
- AGE-WELL (Canada)
- Campus Alberta Neuroscience (Alberta)
- Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (Canada)
- Dal Innovates (Nova Scotia)
- Healthy Brains, Healthy Lives / NeuroSphere (Quebec)
- Hotchkiss Brain Institute (Alberta)
- Manitoba Technology Accelerator (Manitoba)
- Praxis Spinal Cord Institute (British Columbia)