Executive Director

on February 15, 2023

It was another banner year for WORLDiscoveries. In the last fiscal year, we brought in a record $7.87 million in revenue and paved the way for $5.79 million to be distributed to researchers. Our number of active licenses reached a new high of 240, with 35 licenses executed this past fiscal year.

Our department was also awarded a grant from the strategic priorities fund enabling us to establish our new program, WE-Empower. This brings us to the theme of our annual report; Building Community.

Inspired by Western’s strategic plan, Towards Western at 150, WORLDiscoveries has spearheaded the development of new programs designed to bring diverse groups together towards advancing a culture of innovation and inclusion.

Our new WE-Empower program brings together women and underrepresented principal investigators, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students covering tech transfer and commercialization, intellectual property, and entrepreneurship. Our Intellectual Property Strategy Boot Camp, developed in collaboration with Western Law, taught 25 individuals how to protect, manage and commercialize IP.

The Graduate Student Innovation Scholars program has supported over 115 students and given them hands-on training in entrepreneurship, knowledge mobilization and commercialization.

Our Medical Innovation Fellowship (MIF) cohort also launched a new startup and won several pitch competitions. The Mini-MIF introduced 24 individuals to the biodesign process approach to medical innovation.

At the annual Vanguard Awards, we celebrated the accomplishments of over 21 individuals by recognizing various market-readiness milestones. The Proteus Innovation Competition partnered with five Southwestern Ontario institutions and saw individuals create viable commercialization strategies for innovations developed by our partners.

Thank you for taking the time to learn about our accomplishments. We can’t wait to work with you to continue building a community of innovation that enables the timely transfer of research products and services for the use and benefit of the partner institutions, their members and society.

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ecommExecutive Director


on February 15, 2023

Founded in 2021, Tenomix’s mission is to develop novel technologies that target inefficiencies in the pathology workflow, optimize cancer care, and reduce healthcare costs. Tenomix’s flagship device autonomously searches for lymph nodes in resected colorectal cancer tissues and marks their locations for efficient extraction.

This bench-top device replaces the tedious and unreliable manual lymph node-finding process and dramatically improves the speed and reliability of the cancer staging process. This enables clinicians to make better-informed treatment decisions, resulting in fewer patient complications and fatalities and ensures hospitals continuously meet their quality metrics.

The Tenomix founding team (pictured right) includes Chief Business Officer Sherif Abdou, Ph.D., PEng; Saumik Biswas, Chief Executive Officer; Michael Lavdas, MESc, the company’s Director and Technical Advisor and Dr. Eveline Pasman, MD/Ph.D., who serves as Chief Operating Officer. All are graduates of the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship Program.

The team continues to impress, receiving the Best Financial Model Award at Western Angels’ Demo Day, the Grand Prize at Innovation Factory’s Synapse Life Science Competition, a prestigious oncology grant from FACIT, and pitching at MaRS Discovery District.

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ecommAn Eye ON: TENOMIX

Western Entrepreneurship

on February 15, 2023

As one of the pillars of entrepreneurship at Western, WORLDiscoveries supports the Innovation Ambassadors and the Graduate Student Innovation Scholars programs.

Innovation Ambassadors are a group of approximately 50 self-identified researchers from across campus with experience and expertise in entrepreneurship, commercialization or knowledge mobilization. They are tasked with connecting great ideas from their areas into the ecosystem.

Through their work in faculties and departments across campus, they are dedicated to developing and supporting an entrepreneurial mindset at Western. The Innovation Ambassadors run a virtual monthly speaker series that is attended widely across campus. They also put on an Innovation Ambassador Showcase in Spring 2021 that brought researchers in STEM and the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences together to discuss the longer-term impacts on society and research commercialization.

Graduate Student Innovation Scholars

Graduate Student Innovation Scholars (GSIS) consist 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 graduate students and show them a glimpse into the world of commercialization, entrepreneurship and knowledge mobilization. The program has progressively grown the number of graduate students supported in each cohort.

Fall 2021 Scholars

  • Parker Bollmann
  • Sina Driss
  • Cristobal Dupuis
  • Nadia Haghbin
  • Malisa Huda Nusrat
  • Farah Kamar
  • Seliya Mawani
  • Laura Mejia
  • Jennifer Polus
  • Vineet Puri
  • Parth Shah

Winter 2022 Scholars

  • Anastasia Codirenzi
  • Vanessa Coulbeck
  • Nisha John
  • Durwesh Kadri
  • Ojan Khosravifar
  • Seva Loussoufovitch
  • Albin Mathew Varughese
  • Avi Sarkar
  • Yingjie Shen
  • Kasia Tywonek
  • Noreen Wu
  • Courtney Young
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Western Innovation Funds

on February 15, 2023

Shawn Li and colleagues at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry have developed a rapid, accurate, cost-effective point-of-care COVID-19 antibody agglutination test. Li is the Canada Research Chair in Proteomics and Functional Genomics.

Li’s test can use blood or plasma samples to detect antibodies with 100% specificity and 98% sensitivity. This test is also scalable and high-throughput, capable of testing large numbers of samples.

WORLDiscoveries is actively searching for commercialization partners to license and manufacture the test and make it commercially available to healthcare providers in Canada and abroad.

The WIF will help further develop the technology and help prepare it for commercialization.

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Singapore Skyline after sunset

WORLDiscoveries Asia

on February 15, 2023

WD Asia was established ten years ago in response to the changing global economy and to build strong ties between Western University researchers and Asian institutions. Their goal is to enhance Western University’s profile and the level of engagement in research collaboration and technology commercialization in the region.

WD Asia has offices in Hong Kong and Nanjing and has recently expanded its activities to Japan with plans to extend services to Singapore, South Korea and east Asia.

Over the last year, WD Asia has grown a business network in Japan’s life science eco-system – including the top pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device, and venture capital firms actively investing in the industry.

Despite challenges and travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic, WORLDiscoveries Asia has continued to leverage connections with industry and forged new relationships while growing their customer base in Canada. WD Asia has signed dozens of authorization and service agreements to represent startups and organizations in Canada with the aim of licensing technologies to various Asian industry partners.

Canadian organizations that have connected with WD Asia in the last year include:

• Intellistem Technologies

• 16 bit Inc.

• Envision SQ

• McGill University

• FireRein Inc.

• Perceiv AI

• Vitreo Pharma

• Precision Biomonitoring

• Queen’s University

To boost their visibility and facilitate further relationship building, WD Asia hosted two virtual seminar events to develop partnerships between Quebec and Japan in the field of artificial intelligence and healthcare. These seminars connected Montreal’s InVivo, a cluster of 600 life science and healthcare technology organizations, with the Osaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Cluster.

WD Asia also signed a memorandum of understanding with Montreal InVivo to strengthen ties between the two organizations to cultivate connections for life science and health tech companies to Asian markets.

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ecommWORLDiscoveries Asia


on February 15, 2023

Claire Crooks, PhD


WORLDiscoveries has awarded Claire Crooks the 2022 Vanguard Innovator of the Year for her work on the Fourth R program.

The Fourth R is a comprehensive school-based program designed to include students, teachers, parents, and the community in addressing youth violence and bullying, unsafe sexual behaviour, and substance use.

Based on the idea that education needs to involve more than the traditional three R’s – reading, writing and arithmetic – the Fourth R stands for relationships. The program emphasizes the importance of healthy relationships in stopping violence.

The Fourth R was developed by researchers David Wolfe, Claire Crooks, Ray Hughes, and Peter Jaffe at Western’s Centre for School Mental Health and London’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. The curriculum has been adopted by more than 5,000 schools in Canada and the U.S.

Crooks and a team of researchers are currently working on adaptations and evaluations of the Healthy Relationships Plus Program for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth in school and community settings, as well as looking at fit and feasibility in the youth justice system.

Another major focus of her work is developing and evaluating culturally relevant, strengths-based approaches with Indigenous youth.

“We have learned to be flexible because education has changed, curriculum standards change, the issues facing youth change, and the policy context changes,” said Crooks.

The team is proud of how they have been able to scale up and out in terms of the number of youths reached – with curricula spanning grades seven to nine for both the public and Catholic school systems, in addition to small group formats and two mentoring programs for Indigenous youth.

Crooks encourages researchers interested in commercialization to work with end users and potential customers as early as possible.

“Too often in our field, researchers and program developers come up with a product and try to make it attractive to customers. You need to understand the different levels of decision-makers, their needs, preferences, and mandates, and the logistics of the setting where the product will eventually be used,” she said.

The Vanguard Innovator of the Year celebrates researchers who have achieved significant market-readiness milestones for innovations that benefit society.

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on February 15, 2023

Strengthening Regional Connections

Twenty-five teams of more than 57 individuals vied for the top five prizes at this year’s Proteus Innovation Competition.

Entering its seventh year was the second time the competition was managed remotely, enabling teams from across Southwestern Ontario to participate easily.

Founded at Western by WORLDiscoveries and grown to collaborate with McMaster, Windsor, Waterloo, and Guelph universities, the competition brings students together to propose viable paths to market for novel technologies developed at the partner institutions.

It’s a key event within the Western Entrepreneurship ecosystem, awarding each winning team $5,000 and the chance to license the new technology and form their startup.

“Proteus represents so many great things about the universities in our region,” said Souzan Armstrong, Executive Director of WORLDiscoveries.

“It creates a learning opportunity for all participants interested in research commercialization and building startups. It brings students together to work on a common goal, and it has the potential to bring innovations to market for the improvement of society.”

The partner institutions’ teams performed exceptionally well at developing business plans and pitching them to a panel of distinguished judges.

Winners of this year’s ProteusIC include:

  • Team Rogers for its commercialization plan for Western’s Dynamic Cardiovascular Imaging for Rapid Patient Treatment Planning by Aaron So
  • Team HydroMac for its plan to commercialize Antibacterial Phage Hydrogels by a team of researchers at McMaster University
  • Team CIMD Solutions for its commercialization plan for Windsor’s Kinetic Energy Dissipation System designed by William Altenhof
  • Team PV Parkway for its plan for Waterloo’s Advanced Perovskite Films and Crystals for Stable Energy Harvesting Solar Panels by Vivek Maheshwari
  • Team NovelGen Solutions for its plan for Guelphs’ Portable, Temperature-Controlled Storage System developed by Timothy Mills
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Building Medical Innovations

on February 15, 2023

Western Medical Innovation Fellowship Program
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. To kick off the 2021/22 program, the fellows participated in a boot camp here at Western inspired by the University of Minnesota’s renowned Medical Innovation Commercialization Bootcamp. The three-week-long immersion attracted local experts and entrepreneurs to help mentor the fellows covering intellectual property strategy, business development and formation, fundraising, marketing, and more.

Later, the fellows consulted with clinicians across the local healthcare industry and developed two projects to address needs they discovered that fit within their areas of expertise. One project led to the formation of Vessl Prosthetics; their solution adjusts independently to change how amputees interact with their prostheses – enhancing comfort by avoiding common problems related to socket fit. Vessl’s invention is a simple, intuitive, and easy-to-use socket system that passively adjusts to changes in limb volume. The other innovation disclosed was a mobile application for amputee health monitoring and patient education. The app is a wellness tool for amputees who want to manage the health of their residual limb and increase their well-being by effectively managing the challenges associated with a lower limb amputation.

Entering its eighth cohort in Fall 2022, the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship – in partnership with Western’s BrainsCAN – attracted seven talented scientists, engineers, and clinicians to participate in the intense ten-month program. From the success of last year’s boot camp, WORLDiscoveries delivered a homegrown three-week-long boot camp, taking advantage of London’s robust medical innovation ecosystem and local expertise. The fellowship will now be able to resume in-person clinical immersion with pandemic restrictions easing, and the fellows are once again travelling to research centres and various medical innovation company headquarters.

Western’s BrainsCAN initiative committed more than $3.5 million over seven years to the program, along with MITACS and the Western Bone and Joint Institute’s Collaborative Training Program in Musculoskeletal Health Research.

The program’s purpose is to shape inventive and capable leaders that develop novel medical technologies that solve complex problems faced in healthcare. This program is now more vital than at any other time in a world transformed and recovering from the pandemic.

From L to R: Malcolm Eaton went on to join Thin Air Labs as a funding analyst, Jeffrey Poon continues as an orthopedic surgery resident at McMaster University, Eveline Pasman continues in her role as COO of Tenomix, Oleksiy Zaika has joined the fellowship as a returning fellow and co-founder of Vessl Prosthetics, Xinyi Li is exploring career opportunities, Olumide Olotu went on to become an orthopedic surgery resident at Western, and Sydney Robinson is the co-founder of Vessl Prosthetics.

Oleksiy Zaika and Sydney RobinsonFor the culmination of their work through the 10.5-month program, Oleksiy Zaika and Sydney Robinson have launched a startup from one of their program projects. Vessl Prosthetics’ mission is to redefine how amputees interact with their prosthetic devices through a novel, affordable and accessible solutions. They have designed a dynamically adjustable socket that fits the limb as it changes size throughout the day without needing input. Vessl was accepted to two incubators, Velocity in Waterloo and BioNext at Robarts Research Institute.

The 2022/23 cohort is comprised of six fellows. From L to R: Cody Jackson is a family physician, Durwesh Kadri has a background in dental surgery and public health, Michelle Pryde holds a master’s in biomedical engineering, Anastasia Codirenzi also holds a master’s in biomedical engineering and Fatma Hassan has a background in veterinary medicine and cancer research, Oleksiy Zaika has a Ph.D. in anatomy.




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ecommBuilding Medical Innovations

Biomarkers can diagnose long COVID

on February 15, 2023

Dr. Doug Fraser and a team of researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute have found that patients with long COVID have unique biomarkers in their blood.

Long COVID occurs when an individual experiences symptoms like fatigue, brain fog, depression, cognitive impairments, shortness of breath and gastrointestinal issues after single or multiple COVID-19 infections. It can manifest up to 12 months after catching and recovering from the virus. Long COVID is more common among those who had severe infections.

According to the Centres for Disease Control, as many as 30 percent of COVID patients may experience long COVID. Scientists are also learning more about how new variants could potentially affect post-COVID symptoms.

Fraser’s research studied blood samples from patients at London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London, which showed that patients with long COVID had elevated blood biomarkers due to their blood vessels being dramatically changed by a COVID-19 infection. These biomarkers proteins affect angiogenesis – the formation of new blood vessels. By diagnosing long COVID in this manner, clinicians can implement therapeutics that target angiogenesis inhibitors.

Commercialization is underway to develop and manufacture a point-of-care blood test that would quickly identify long COVID cases. This would allow clinicians to make better-informed treatment decisions for patients dealing with the condition.

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ecommBiomarkers can diagnose long COVID

Treating Inflammatory Responses with Antibodies

on February 15, 2023

Currently, there is no safe and effective treatment for the millions of individuals affected by traumatic brain and spinal injuries, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), or systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) each year, leading to death or significant impacts on patient quality of life and a lifetime of rehabilitation.

SIRS is a severe condition which causes inflammation throughout the whole body and has a variety of causes, from injury to bacterial infections. However, ARDS occurs when fluid builds up in the alveoli in the lungs, and the fluid keeps the lungs from filling with enough air depriving organs of the oxygen they need to function.

This led Greg Dekaban, professor of microbiology and immunology at Western and Robart’s scientist, to develop a neuroprotective monoclonal antibody that limits the damaging effects of inflammation after injury or infection.

The antibody, a bioengineered protein, binds to and neutralizes immune cells that typically cause detrimental inflammation within the first 24 to 72 hours following a traumatic event or in the development of an infection.

As a treatment, the antibody can improve patient outcomes, increase patient quality of life and reduce the costs associated with extensive physical and psychological rehabilitation. A further advantage of this therapy is that patients should maintain a functional immune system during recovery.   

The antibody has been licensed to a London-based immunotherapy company that is focused on developing therapies for ARDS, SIRS, and traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. Once their treatments have been developed, they plan to begin the clinical approval process for market approval and launch.

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