The Western Medical Innovation Fellowship (MIF) immerses talented young scientists, engineers and clinicians in training and research environments that build innovation leaders and create novel medical technologies. Now at the end of their 10.5 month program, the 2018-19 Western Medical Innovation Fellows are looking to move onto their next adventure – entrepreneurship. As part of their program, the fellows consulted with clinicians across the local healthcare industry and developed two projects to address needs they discovered throughout the process that fit within their areas of expertise. These two projects are being spun-off into two London-based innovative medical startups thanks to the support of BURST, an incubation program for high-potential medical technology startups through the TechAlliance of Southwestern Ontario.
The fellows were encouraged to apply for the BURST program from the MIF mentors who are leading experts in the field of medical innovation and technology. The application included the development of a business plan outlining the problem their innovations hoped to solve, the market for their innovation, and the overall business strategy.
Each project received an award valued at 70k to help incorporate the businesses, develop prototypes and further develop the technologies for market. “Being awarded these funds really helps the fellows pave the next phase of their entrepreneurial path post MIF program” said Souzan Armstrong, PhD, Director for the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship. BURST will provide mentoring to the fellows, focusing their efforts on four main pillars: market validation, company structure, intellectual property and investor readiness.
The groundwork for these startups was developed by the fellows throughout the MIF program with each fellow contributing from their own areas of expertise: Dr. Ibrahim Marwa, a medical doctor who holds a Master’s in Public Health from Western, Dr. Jacob Reeves who holds a PhD in mechanical engineering from Western, Dr. Maryanne Siu who completed medical school in Ireland and holds an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Toronto, Dr. Mahmoud Ramin who completed his PhD in neuroscience at McGill University and Bartosz Slak, a PhD student in the department of biophysics, University of Windsor. Each fellow worked on the projects that will be spun-off into the two startups.
The startup companies, ONPoint Medical Inc. and Tune-Out Medical Inc. address problems in two very different sectors.
ONPoint Medical is a medical device company focused on developing products to improve diagnostics and treatment outcomes in physiotherapy and rehabilitation clinics. The company aims to provide comprehensive and innovative solutions for dynamic balance assessment to facilitate diagnosis and support interventions of foot, ankle and knee injuries. The company growth plan is to create a pipeline of software and hardware products to address unmet needs in body movement and reach assessments.
Tune-Out Medical aims to help ophthalmologists and patients undergoing eye surgery by providing a way to mask ocular sensation in order to prevent disruptive reflexive movements that can lead to surgical complications and cancellations.
“These funds are the catalyst to help us get our businesses going” said Bartosz Slak.
The startups have already been incorporated and have received initial funding. Over the next 12 months of the BURST program, the fellows and now co-founders will work closely with experts to improve and validate their business models. They will continue to receive guidance from mentors throughout the program and will be expected to meet certain milestones. Upon graduation from the BURST program, founders will have the chance to showcase their technology to investors and industry representatives.
The MIF program would like to acknowledge the following organizations for financial support, including BrainsCAN, Burroughs Wellcome Fund and WORLDiscoveries.