Arthritis innovators win $50,000 each
April 26, 2023
TORONTO – Four Canadian innovators received the Arthritis Ideator Award from Arthritis Society Canada. The award recognizes innovations aimed at improving the lives of the six million Canadians living with arthritis and provides each of the winners with $50,000 for further development of their ventures.
At the second annual Arthritis Ideator Awards event, a pitch-style competition held at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, three winners: FirstHx, Heal Mary, and Pillcheck were selected by an esteemed panel of judges. A fourth winner, Joints on Point was chosen by Canadian popular vote for the People’s Choice Award.
The four winners were selected from among seven finalists who presented their innovations to the judges at the event.
“This is my second year judging this competition, and it’s exciting to be part of a celebration of Canadian innovation and see these promising ideas get the attention and funding they need to get off the ground,” said Mohamad Fakih, executive chair and president, Paramount Fine Foods, and one of the VIP judges.
Fakih was joined by Jasmin Ganie-Hobbs, director Tech Financing, BDC; Andrew Oliver, president and CEO, Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality; Ronald Reuben, founder and executive chairman, Medicom Group; and Trish Barbato (pictured), president & CEO Arthritis Society Canada.
As part of the Arthritis Ideators Award recognition, the winning innovators receive access to experts from Arthritis Society Canada and the broader arthritis ecosystem including technology, research and corporate partners.
“Arthritis is not well understood and there are so many myths about it,” said Barbato. “People think it’s an older person’s disease. They think it’s related to wear and tear or that it just causes mild discomfort. None of which are true.
“Our Arthritis Ideator Awards is part of our Innovation Strategy,” adds Barbato. “We are excited to showcase innovations that will allow us to put a spotlight on this chronic, debilitating disease, while working towards supporting the six million Canadians who manage this condition daily.”
About the Winners:
- FirstHx, Toronto
The brainchild of CEO Chris O’Connor, FirstHx is a web-based medical intake platform, designed to reduce the time it takes to get an arthritis diagnosis – which today (on average) is almost eight years! By gathering a precise medical history before you see your doctor, FirstHx asks the questions that ensure the right diagnostic tests are ordered, saving valuable time for patients and clinicians.
- Heal Mary, Vancouver
Launched by Cassandra Hui, Heal Mary leverages machine learning language processing to match people living with arthritis to appropriate clinical trials that could benefit their health. Currently, the process of searching and applying for clinical trials in Canada is often complicated and difficult.
- Pillcheck, Toronto
Launched by Veronika Litinski, Pillcheck optimizes arthritis medications based on your DNA, with the help of an expert pharmacist, to quickly find the right medication in the right dosage. This easy-to-use, at-home test kit provides a lifetime of insights to avoid medication side effects.
- Joints on Point, 2023 People’s Choice Award Winner, Ottawa
Developed by physiotherapists and co-founders Julien and Lucas Trapeau, Joints on Point is a mobile app and web platform that will help people in rural and remote areas manage their osteoarthritis through a virtual online community of physiotherapists, video programs, support tools and resources.
About Arthritis Society Canada
Arthritis Society Canada is dedicated to extinguishing arthritis. We represent the six million Canadians living with arthritis today, and the millions more who are impacted or at risk. Fueled by the trust and support of our donors and volunteers, Arthritis Society Canada is fighting the fire of arthritis with research, advocacy, innovation, information and support. We are Canada’s largest charitable funder of cutting-edge arthritis research. We will not give up our efforts until everyone is free of the scorching pain of arthritis. Arthritis Society Canada is accredited under Imagine Canada’s Standards Program. For more information, to make a donation or volunteer, visit arthritis.ca.