Fifty-seven teams comprising more than 190 individuals vied for the five top prizes at this year’s Proteus Innovation Competition – more than any other year in the contest’s six-year history.
Teams overcame the challenges brought on by the pandemic and competed virtually, creating abstracts and business plans, then making pitches to a panel of judges.
Founded at Western by WORLDiscoveries and grown to collaborate with McMaster, Windsor, Waterloo, Guelph and Wilfrid Laurier universities, the competition brings students together to propose viable paths to market for novel technologies developed at the partner institutions.
Hamilton’s life science ecosystem gathered virtually on March 24, for Innovation Factory’s eighth annual Synapse Competition, Ontario’s premier life science pitch competition. Synapse is designed to help move innovative life science products and services out of the lab and into the market, by pairing up life science Innovators with business and entrepreneurship students.
Since the inaugural Synapse Life Science Pitch Competition in 2014, Innovation Factory has worked with more than 90 companies and awarded over $500,000 in cash and in-kind resources though the support of its sponsors.
Adding to a growing list of business competition wins (See: 1 and 2) the Western Medical Innovation Fellows (MIF) scored another in the Stu Clark New Venture Championships: Graduate Edition. The team took first place in the elevator pitch portion of the annual competition hosted by the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Manitoba.
The international competition is for graduate students to gain real experience while developing and growing new ventures based on the student created, managed or owned ventures. It involved a business plan portion, which requires submitting a comprehensive business plan, delivering a 15-minute presentation followed by a question and answer – and judge feedback session. The teams then must deliver a strict one-minute elevator pitch with no visual aids, cue cards or props allowed to a panel of judges.
Michael Lavdas, MESc’20 and member of the current cohort of Western Medical Innovation Fellows along with Mayo Clinic medical student David Soriano scored second prize in a two-day Innovation Sprint. The sprint was designed to encourage collaborative innovation at Mayo Clinic and engaged experts in information technology, clinical practice and business users to form cross-disciplinary teams. The teams then had to identify a problem, develop solutions and then sell it in a pitch all within the course of a weekend. The theme of the sprint was advanced healthcare at home.
Asha Parekh, PhD’15, who was a member of the first cohort of the Western Medical Innovation Fellowship, is seeing results after years of work as the company she founded receives Health Canada approval. Parekh, a biomedical engineer, co-founded the company Front Line Medical Technologies in 2017, with Dr. Adam Power, a vascular surgeon based at Victoria Hospital and Associate Professor of Surgery at Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.
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.
In their latest report which analyzes data from fiscal year 2018, AUTM ranks WORLDiscoveries and our partners (Western, Lawson and Robarts) 6th in Canada in terms of gross revenues. This boosts WORLDiscoveries up one place from the 2017 report where we ranked 7th in Canada. This report highlights that WORLDiscoveries remains one of the most successful technology transfer and business development offices in Canada when compared to our peer institutions.
As COVID-19 cases continue to rise around the world, there is an urgent need for a simple, yet accurate antibody test to identify infected individuals in large scales to inform public health decisions. Development of a rapid, accurate and specific point-of-care COVID-19 antibody test for use at community level remains an utmost priority.
Researcher Dr. Qingping Feng is proof of the axiom it takes years to become an overnight success.
So, he’s willing to wait a while longer, if that’s what it takes, to know for certain that the sepsis treatment he has worked on for more than two decades will save millions of lives.
Feng has been named the 2020 WORLDiscoveries Vanguard Innovator of the Year, an honour that celebrates market-ready research, for his team’s development of the protein annexin A5 into a pharmaceutical that may become the world’s first effective treatment for sepsis, including when it arises as a complication of COVID-19.