Western Medical Innovation Fellows score FACIT pitch competition audience choice award

on February 12, 2021

In addition to their day-to-day work as Medical Innovation Fellows (MIF), completing market validation studies and prototyping two major projects, the ambitious team participated in the 2021 Falcons’ Fortunes pitch competition hosted by FACIT. The annual pitch competition offers a cash prize for novel cancer solutions to Ontario-based entrepreneurs and industrious researchers. FACIT is a commercialization venture firm for Ontario cancer innovations and acts as a bridge between the public and private sectors.

The team of fellows had to deliver a 10-minute pitch with the goal of convincing a panel of potential investors, much like CBC’s hit show Dragon’s Den. Although the team did not net the top prize, they were awarded the Audience Choice Award for the best pitch.

The 2020-21 cohort of fellows include Saumik Biswas, Sheyla Abdic, Sherif Abdou, Gordon Ngo, Eveline Pasman, Kirill Fedorov and Michael Lavdas. All the fellows contributed to the presentation from creating an engaging pitch deck, developing content and preparing for any questions the judges might have thrown their way. The team credited their fellowship program with providing them solid understanding of value proposition, business models, market opportunity, competitive advantages, funding needs and the desired milestones needed for a successful venture.

Left to right: Eveline Pasman, Sheyla Abdic, Gordon Ngo, Kirill Fedorov, Souzan Armstrong (Program Director), Sherif Abdou, Michael Lavdas and Saumik Biswas.

Saumik Biswas delivered the fellows’ pitch to the judges on harnessing the power of imaging and automation to improve inefficiencies in the colon cancer staging pipeline.

“Significant preparation was required for this pitch competition” said Biswas, from “refining the story to make it memorable, preparing for the Q&A section, and practicing the pitch several times in front of our MIF mentors and colleagues to gain constructive feedback.”

The fellows are quickly moving onto their next competitions. A team comprised of fellows Gordon Ngo, Sheyla Abdic, Michael Lavdas and Eveline Pasman submitted their business plan to the Proteus Innovation Competition in hopes of moving on to the third and final stage. The entire cohort of fellows (pictured above) will also participate in the Synapse Life Science Competition and the Stu Clark New Venture Championships coming up in March 2021.

“As we continue with prototyping and on-going end-user validation for our projects, we are actively looking to partake in more competitions in hopes of raising capital for our innovative projects,” Biswas explained.

If you would like to learn more about the fellows’ initiatives and would like to support them, please contact

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