The Idea to Innovation (I2I) grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) exists to accelerate the pre-competitive development of promising technology originating from research organizations and promote its transfer to a new or established Canadian company. The I2I grants provide funding to university faculty members to support research and development projects with recognized technology transfer potential. This is achieved through defined phases by providing crucial assistance in the early stages of technology validation and market connection.
In collaboration with WORLDiscoveries, Dr. Aaron So, Lawson Health Research Institute Scientist and Assistant Professor in Medical Biophysics at Western has been awarded the grant to help bring novel computed tomography (CT) software to market. A CT scan is a medical imaging technique used in radiology to obtain detailed internal images of the body non-invasively for diagnostic purposes.
The grant provides $125,000 in funding which will go towards development and validation of the software as well as equipment and patent costs. WORLDiscoveries worked with So to ensure his grant highlighted the commercialization value of his CT software, how it could be brought to market, and obtained letters of support from industry partners.
“It’s been a truly great experience,” said So about working with WORLDiscoveries on the grant application. “Dr. Patricia Pan helped me a lot on this grant, especially in the aspects of business plan and marketing strategy.”
CT is routinely used for anatomical assessment in patients with vascular and valvular diseases. Since blood flow assessment is also critical for optimizing the management of these patients, CT is often used in conjunction with other imaging tests for further disease evaluation, but this approach leads to ineffective clinical workflow. Current technology requires significant computations and processing times.
So’s novel CT image analysis method, which has been in development since 2017, was created to facilitate a one-stop anatomical and functional diagnosis with CT. It can accomplish in minutes what current technology takes hours to do – with much less computer processing power. This means the method does not require offsite image processing and allows blood flow measurement at a very high temporal resolution to unmask the underlying blood flow characteristics related to various vascular and valvular diseases. This translates to faster patient diagnosis and treatment planning.
“So’s technology has strong potential to overcome the current limitations of the static CT approach for blood flow assessment,” said Patricia Pan, Business Development Manager for WORLDiscoveries who guides the commercialization of the technology.
“This novel technology can compete with the existing CT-FFR method which is computationally intensive and has limited accuracy for coronary lesions that are moderately severe or densely calcified,” she continued.
Once developed with aid from the I2I grant, the technology can be licensed to any company with interests in the commercialization of medical imaging software.