An Eye On: LifeLike BioTissue

on May 24, 2019

Founded in 2009 by Leonard Millon, PhD, LifeLike BioTissue Inc. provides a wide selection of products developed to mimic the properties and behaviours of live tissue. The company was launched thanks to a grant from the Ontario Centres of Excellence and the guidance of WORLDiscoveries®.

The company’s offerings are perfect for the practice of basic and procedural surgical skills, and to date, have been used in more than 50 training hospitals across Canada, the United States and Europe. LifeLike products look, feel and behave like human tissue and provide a training medium superior to other suture and surgical training kits, animal tissues and live animals.

LifeLike BioTissue’s technology has been under development for more than a decade by biomedical engineers at Western University. The technology was originally developed for implant and tissue replacement purposes. However, thanks to support from the Ontario Centres of Excellence and Western, LifeLike BioTissue Inc. was created to commercialize this high-fidelity technology as a surgical training tool to increase practice and help improve patient care worldwide.

The company has also seen recent interest from medical device companies for use in product training, demonstrations, and for their own research and development of products as the technology used can replicate numerous human soft tissues.

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Awarded Western Innovation Funds

on May 24, 2019

Supported by the office of the Vice-President (Research), the Western Innovation Fund (WIF) awards are intended to support projects that will advance innovative research development towards application and commercialization. This competition is for one-time projects based on existing research initiatives.

Photopolymerization of 3D conductive polypyrrole structures via digital light processing

Aaron Price
Amount: $100K

Robustness of scalable graphene water filters based on western technology

Giovanni Fanchini
Amount: $99K

Special purpose bioelectrodes for a new brain cancer therapeutic device

Matthew Hebb
Amount: $100K

Force-space navigation for surgical robotic applications

Louis Ferreira
Amount: $100K

Scale up of antioxidant electroplating coating for hot-stamping process

Jun Yang
Amount: $100K

Bio-catalytic conversion of plant derived sugars into high-value chemicals

Charles Xu
Amount: $88K

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ecommAwarded Western Innovation Funds

WORLDiscoveries Asia

on May 24, 2019

The team at WORLDiscoveries Asia has had a year full of accomplishments all while strengthening the connections between Canadian and Asian research organizations and industry.

Established almost 10 years ago, WD Asia works with Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses to commercialize their technological innovations abroad. Between its creation in 2009 and 2016, WD Asia has helped reach 10 deals between Canadian and Asian companies and generated $2 million in licensing revenue and research sponsorship. Companies that have established business deals through WD Asia have included pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and energy companies.

Having received a grant in April 2017 from the Ontario Ministry of Research, Innovation and Science (MRIS), WD Asia launched a one-year program to help Ontario-based organizations explore business opportunities in the Asian market. The grant from MRIS established deliverables that would determine the success of the program. Over the course of the year, WD Asia met or exceeded all deliverables, having expanded its portfolio to represent 30 Ontario organizations and 100 new technologies – with the original goals being 20 and 70 respectively. WD Asia generated ~$100,000 in revenue by providing their professional services which resulted in closing three business deals between Ontario and China organizations. Two license agreements were signed and an equity investment agreement was established.

In 2017, the WD Asia Nanjing office once again received funding from the Jiangsu Science and Technology Department to support their work in promoting Canada-China science and technology collaborations and bridging the gap between Canada-China innovation and investment opportunities

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Innovator of the Year

on May 24, 2019

Ruth Martin, PhD

A simple yet functional device is making all the difference for those who have suffered traumatic incidents from car crashes to strokes and have been left unable to perform a basic key task – swallow their food.

Developed by Ruth Martin, Professor and Associate Dean for Graduate and Postdoctoral Programs in the Faculty of Health Sciences, Abilex is a lightweight, easy-to-use therapy device. The instrument enables patients suffering from the inability to swallow to regain muscle control in their mouth, allowing them to eat independently again. Abilex helps exercise and rebuild the muscles in the jaw, mouth, and tongue for people who struggle with swallowing or speaking.

Having worked as a speech language pathologist earlier in her career, Martin had experience working with people who had lost their swallowing ability due to various traumas including throat and mouth cancers, brain injuries, and strokes. Through her clinical work, Martin noticed devices for rehabilitation of the mouth were insufficient. It was during her post-doctoral studies that the pieces of the Abilex puzzle started coming together. Martin hypothesized that stimulating the brain through mouth exercises would help patients create new neural pathways and allow them to regain their swallowing ability. This led to the first prototypes for what is now the finalized Abilex product.

The development of the instrument dates back to 2003, and has seen a considerable amount of work placed into the engineering and production of the end product – which has also undergone multiple clinical studies. Its lightweight, flexible design means it won’t strain the jaw, and the shape allows for patients to stimulate their natural ability to form wet balls of food for swallowing without risk of choking. In 2009, Trudell Medical International, a designer and manufacturer of various healthcare devices, licensed the product and now produces and markets the instrument as Abilex.

It is for her steadfast commitment to her innovation and seeing it through product design, development and a successful commercialization process, that Ruth Martin has been named the winner of the fourth-annual WORLDiscoveries® Vanguard Innovator of the Year award.

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The Rewards of Innovation

on May 24, 2019

As the technology transfer and business development office for Western University, Robarts Research Institute and Lawson Health Research Institute, WORLDiscoveries® is pleased to present the annual Vanguard Awards.

This celebration recognizes local researchers, who, through partnership with WORLDiscoveries, have achieved various market-readiness milestones.

2018 Vanguard Award winners

Innovator of the Year

Ruth Martin

Douglas Fraser (Nominee)
Maria Drangova (Nominee)

Patent Issued Award

Moustafa Aboutabikh
Kevin Barker
Jeffrey Bax
Colleen Biggs
Choi-Fong Cho
Hesham El Naggar
Qingping Feng

Aaron Fenster
Nirmal Kakani
Mahmoud Kassem
Hon Sing Leong
Tingjie Li
Xiangru (Sharon) Lu
Leonard Luyt

Leonard Minuk
Ahmed Mneina
Hamid Neshat
Tianqing Peng
Ahmed Soliman
Andre St. Amant
Jun Yang

License Agreement Signed Award

Kevin Barker
Jeffrey Bax
Tharindu De Silva
Zhifeng Ding
Aaron Fenster

Anthony Jevnikar
Nirmal Kakani
Leo Lau
Michael Naish
Hamid Neshat

Rajni Patel
Christopher Schlachta
Ana Luisa Trejos
Aaron Ward
Jun Yang

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Proteus innovation competition

on May 24, 2019

Medical technologies inspire and challenge competitors

Going into its third year, the Proteus Innovation Competition saw 40 registered teams, comprised of 89 individuals compete for three $5,000 prizes and the opportunity to license their selected technology and launch a start-up company. The 2017/18 competition was led by a partnership between WORLDiscoveries®, Propel Entrepreneurship, Western Research Parks, CIMTEC, TechAlliance, and Fanshawe College’s LEAP Junction. The competition brought together community members and challenged them to create a strategy for taking their choice of technology to market.

Competitors could choose from one of three innovations: a force guided surgical navigation tool, a diagnostic method for Zika virus, and a catheter contact-force controller. Each innovation saw a successful commercialization plan developed by a winning team.

Team MPP Biomedical, composed of Alexander Moszczynski, Adam Paish, and Patrick McCunn, wrote the winning business plan and pitch for the force guided surgical navigation tool. The team’s plan focused on further developing the tool so that it would be useful for multiple orthopaedic surgeries and then enter the U.S. market, equipping hospitals at a rate of 50 per year with the goal of achieving an annual revenue of $34.9 million.

Jason Knapp, Reshel Perera, Spencer Yeung, and Stefania Wisofschi made up Team Uganda OGS, which tackled developing a successful commercialization plan for the diagnostic method for Zika virus. The team planned to use Brazil as an entry market, their research indicating the country faced a sustained Zika-related public health challenge. The plan proposed licensing the technology to a variety of Brazilian companies in order to operate in the country’s blended health system.

Finally, with their thoughtful and well-constructed business plan, Team C took home the final prize for their plan to commercialize the catheter contact-force controller. Team members Ysabel Domingo, Ana-Bianca Popa, and Mike Patterson focused on commercializing their technology through a physician engagement plan which involved advertising and a sales team. The goal was to encourage doctors to reach out to their procurement departments and request they purchase this product by name.

This year, competitors had a special challenge, developing a plan that could take these three medical and highly niche products to market. The winning teams did not disappoint, the ideas expressed by competitors were top notch, showcasing the competition’s role in providing an opportunity for teams to come together to develop solutions to unique challenges.

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Graduate Student Innovation Scholars

on May 24, 2019

A program that promotes and champions skills development for graduate students, Western’s Graduate Student Innovation Scholars (GSIS) program equips grad students with improved career skills both in and outside of academia. Awarded to those students who have exhibited the creation and development of new ideas, personal entrepreneurship, promising career growth, and a solid work ethic, the GSIS offers not only a financial award but a learning opportunity as well.

Consisting of a series of lectures on topics ranging from intellectual property and patents to technology assessment and entrepreneurship, the program aims to broaden the minds of grad students and show them a glimpse into the world of commercialization and knowledge mobilization.

Fall 2017 Scholars

Ana-Bianca Popa
Ashley Amir
Beatriz Ysabel Domingo

Ethan Wright
Greydon Gilmore
Michael Patterson

Nivin Nasri
Swarali Patil
Tyler Beveridge

Winter 2018 Scholars

Ana-Bianca Popa
Ashley Amir
Beatriz Ysabel Domingo

Amy Robinson
Carelle Mang-Benza
Carlos Gonzalez Meyer

Kia Mae Peters
Stephanie Huff
Tahir Muhammad

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ecommGraduate Student Innovation Scholars

Western Entrepreneurship

on May 24, 2019

As one of the pillars of Western Entrepreneurship, WORLDiscoveries® has helped with the initiative of recruiting Innovation Ambassadors – self-identified researchers from across campus who have experience and expertise in entrepreneurship, commercialization or knowledge mobilization. They are charged with a mission to connect great ideas from their areas into the ecosystem. Innovation Ambassadors are an essential component of Western Entrepreneurship. Through their work in faculties and departments across campus, they are dedicated to developing and supporting an innovative mindset at Western.

It is also the goal of the program to provide peer-to-peer networking, peerto- student mentoring, advice to senior leadership on program or ecosystem initiatives and recognition and acknowledgement of achievements in this area. The program also strives to create opportunities for interdisciplinary research and cross-faculty collaboration. Starting with 14 ambassadors at the time of the launch in Fall 2017, Western now has >25 Innovation Ambassadors across campus with at least one ambassador in each faculty.

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Top 10 Successes

on May 24, 2019

As WORLDiscoveries® turns 10, we look back at our top 10 successes over the years, with highlights from fiscal year 2018 and earlier.

For over 15 years, Desired Sensation Level (DSL) software developed by Susan Scollie, Director of Western’s National Centre for Audiology, has helped clinicians around the world provide millions of infants and children with the gift of hearing thanks to individually customized hearing aids created with the software.

Qingping Feng, has discovered that a cellular protein, annexin A5, holds promising properties for the treatment of sepsis, which kills millions every year. Yabao Pharmaceutical Group, a Chinese firm, has signed a license agreement to develop a drug treatment for the life-threatening condition using Feng’s research.

The brainchild of Ruth Martin, Associate Dean in the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Abilex device, produced and sold by Trudell Medical International, helps those who have lost their ability to swallow and speak, to exercise the muscles and rebuild the muscles in the jaw, mouth, and tongue, rehabilitating their lost abilities.

LifeLike Biotissue produces materials and models that mimic the mechanical properties, feel and anatomy of the human body from fat to arterial blood vessels and everything in between. Their technology has also been used in surgical skills labs in more than 50 training hospitals in the United States, Canada and Europe.

Established in 1998, EK3, now Cineplex Digital Networks, produces and manages narrowcasting and digital signage. With over 10 years of research and development experience, EK3 has deployed some of the world’s biggest and most complex digital networks using proprietary state of the art technology and patented software.

Ting Lee’s CT perfusion software has transformed the way physicians assess and treat stroke patients. Through a partnership with GE Healthcare, this software has been installed in over 8,000 medical imaging centres providing a global impact on patient care while creating significant economic benefits for Canada.

Designed by Tom Jenkyn and Jeff Wood of Western’s Faculty of Engineering, and curling coach Scott Arnold, the new Canadian Olympic curling broom requires less force to clean the ice during play by allowing heat to be reflected back onto the ice. The reduced friction between the rock and ice allows for an easier sweep to victory.

Agri-Therm spearheaded the development of a mobile pyrolysis platform which converts low-value agricultural residue into usable biochar and bio oil that can be used as fertilizer or a fossil fuel substitute. Agri-Therm entered into an exclusive license agreement with a Beijing- based multinational biotech company in 2017.

Aaron Fenster has been a prodigious inventor during his career, securing 100+ patents covering a range of imaging related technologies. The prostate biopsy and therapy related technologies have been licensed to Eigen Inc. for nearly 10 years, finding commercial application in their leading MRI/TRUS-Fusion biopsy platform, ArtemisTM.

DYNA6.1 software developed by Western Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Hesham El Naggar, is used worldwide for the design of machine foundations. DYNA6.1 is double precision for more accuracy and more stability of numerical processing and can analyze the effects of single or multiple machines.

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A plan for growth

on May 24, 2019

Western Medical Innovation Fellowship Program

From the beginning, the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship had big plans, to steadily grow into a leading program for the development of medical innovations in Canada. The intense 10.5-month program engages talented young scientists and medical clinicians in training and research environments. The goal is to shape inventive and creative leaders that develop novel medical technologies that solve complex problems faced in healthcare.

Moving into its third and fourth year, the fellowship would see another successful cohort of three fellows complete the program, a grant to boost program content, two extra fellowship positions added to the next cohort, and a new makerspace to accommodate the added personnel.

The 2017-18 cohort consisting of Samaneh Baghbani, AbdulWahab Kabani, and Martin Smith, participated in a five-week boot camp to kick off their program at the University of Minnesota before returning to Western University to complete the remainder of their program and complete work on their projects. Throughout the program, the fellows received training on prototyping, intellectual property, and business strategy. By combining their skillsets, the team of fellows developed a technology titled Angler, a wearable system using machine learning algorithms to record patient seizures for later analysis. The technology has had a patent filed and is being marketed for commercialization.

A grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, which focuses on the career development of scientists, gave a boost of $48,000 USD to the program. This contribution will provide additional support to the program’s instructional content by funding workshops with local industry experts where they will learn more about design thinking and entrepreneurship. This not only gives additional networking opportunities to the fellows but also engages the program with start-ups and businesses.

For the 2018-19 program, two additional fellows were added to the cohort, meaning with five fellows, the group needed a new, bigger space to work. BrainsCAN, one of the program’s main backers, generously provided offices and a new makerspace for the fellows to work on their projects while Western Research Parks also provided additional space for the fellows’ activities. Now housed in the Western Interdisciplinary Research Building, the fellows have been brought on campus, giving them easier access to its resources and fellow researchers.

From L to R: Upon completing the program, Martin Smith went on to join Robart’s Clinical Trials as a Business Commercialization Analyst, joining the local technology commercialization ecosystem, Samaneh Baghbani returned to focusing on her clinical work and further advance her start-up which is developing a rehabilitation device, AbdulWahab Kabani went on to cofound his start-up MATR, which uses AI to tackle problems in rehabilitation.

The new makerspace for the fellows is based in the Western Interdisciplinary Research Building. Located on the seventh floor, the space provides an inspiring work environment, putting the fellows in close proximity to some of the finest minds in neuroscience while providing easy access to main campus. The new stateof- the-art building is also home to the Brain and Mind Institute and the Rotman Institute of Philosophy, and is adjacent to Robarts Research Institute and University Hospital.

The cohort for the 2018/19 program year grew from three members to five. From L to R, Souzan Armstrong, the director of the program welcomes Jacob Reeves who holds a PhD in mechanical engineering, Mahmoud Ramin who holds a PhD in neuroscience, Bartosz Slak, who holds master’s degrees in physics and engineering, Ibrahim Marwa who holds a medical doctorate and a master’s in public health, and Maryanne Siu who holds a medical doctorate.

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ecommA plan for growth