June 12, 2019

Fluid Biotech Inc. wins big at TENET i2c

Startup takes home $100,000 grand prize in Dragon’s Den-style competition for medical entrepreneurs

For the past four years, the TENET Innovation to Commercialization (TENET i2c) program has provided funding and training to University of Calgary researchers, clinicians, postdocs, graduate students and staff to transform their health research into a commercial product.

The competition provides teams with entrepreneurial training from Platform Calgary and matches them with mentors from Calgary’s business community. The resources provided to the participants equips them with the skills, knowledge, and industry contacts to pitch their ideas at a final event for a chance to win up to $100,000 to commercialize their product.

In its early years, the competition was exclusive to ventures within the Cumming School of Medicine (CSM). After an expansion of the program, the competition is now hosted by the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking to encourage participants from all faculties to apply for a chance to build their health-related research into reality. 

“As one of the founding members of the TENET i2c program, I have seen a swell of interest and activity in the health innovation space at the University of Calgary,” says Elisa Park Kim, health innovation manager, the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking.

“We have had the privilege of working with 65 teams over the last four years. Participants are provided with high-level business training, one-on-one pitch coaching, and mentorship before they enter the final pitch event. What we are doing is contributing to a bigger pipeline of innovation across the university's campuses and the broader community.”

Last year’s TENET i2c winning team, Neuraura, credits TENET i2c with playing a key role in accelerating their business milestones and commercialization goals.

“The TENET i2c competition and award has been catalytic in launching Neuraura Biotech Inc. through providing crucial validation, awareness building and early capital to enable the evolution from an academic research activity to an early stage startup,” says Claire Dixon, chief operating officer for Neuraura.

“Since winning the competition in [April] 2018, Neuraura has achieved a number of significant milestones in terms of validating the technology, establishing world-class collaborations and securing angel financing and is on track to commercialize its first clinical application in 2020.”

This year’s competing teams pitched a range of ideas such as:

  • personalized targeted cancer treatment for people with breast cancer
  • a tool that helps EMS decide where to transport stroke patients for the best treatment
  • a new type of digital otoscope and ear disease diagnosis platform
  • and diagnostic tests that prevent overtreatment of cancer, among other health-based research ventures that will reshape the medical industry.  

Fluid Biotech Inc. won $100,000 in cash to support their commercialization goals at this year’s TENET i2c Pitch Competition, hosted at INVENTURE$ 2019 on June 7. In addition, $40,000 worth of in-kind services will be provided by ReboxMNP LLP, and Bennett Jones.

After years of work in the biomedical engineering laboratory of Dr. Alim Mitha, MD, an assistant professor in the departments of Clinical Neurosciences and Radiology and a member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and Libin Cardiovascular Institute at the CSM, Fluid Biotech is taking its work forward to commercialize an innovative stent to heal brain aneurysms.

This new medical device has the potential to disrupt and radically alter the marketplace of existing technologies to treat aneurysms.

“The team at Fluid Biotech is grateful to TENET i2c and the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking for their support of young ventures like ours,” says Dr. John H. Wong, MD, a co-founder of Fluid Biotech Inc., associate professor in the departments of Clinical Neurosciences and Radiology, and member of the Hotchkiss Brain Institute at the CSM.

“This generous award will go a long way to help us bring on more research associates to refine our stent and reach our business milestones sooner.”

Daria Venkova (CEO) and Dr. Jeroen De Buck (founder) of Creative Protein Solutions (CPS) received $10,000 from Alberta Innovates for securing second place.

Dr. Oliver Bathe, David Bocking, Dr. Farshad Farshidfar, Dr. Cynthia Stretch, and Brandon Friedt of Qualisure Diagnostics Inc. secured third place and took home $10,000 from Alberta Innovates to accelerate their venture’s momentum.

“The startup companies from the Cumming School of Medicine, Schulich School of Engineering, and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine did an outstanding job presenting their entrepreneurial vision of their companies at INVENTURE$,” says TENET i2c founder Ken Moore. “They received accolades for their cutting-edge research and how they were translated that research into real solutions for patients and health care providers.”

Ken Moore, founder of TENET i2c, attends the 2019 event.

Ken Moore, founder of TENET i2c, attends the 2019 event.

RUNNERS-UP     

Creative Protein Solutions – 2nd

Healthy dairy products come from healthy cows. Creative Protein Solutions (CPS) is producing convenient diagnostics to help dairy producers manage and control cattle diseases on the farm. Mastitis is one such costly disease of dairy cows. Dairy farmers need early indicators of mastitis to reduce the severity and spread of this disease, minimize the use of antibiotics, and maximize the milk quality.

CPS has developed an inexpensive on-farm test to inform treatment and management decisions. Adoption of the test results in higher gains for dairy farmers, healthier cows, and higher quality dairy products.

  • Team members: Daria Venkova (CEO) and Jeroen De Buck, PhD (co-founder, professor, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine)

Qualisure Diagnostics Inc. – 3rd

Qualisure Diagnostics Inc. eliminates the overtreatment of cancer. Cancer treatments are frequently accompanied by significant toxicity, as well as emotional and financial burdens. Qualisure creates tests to guide physicians and patients to more precise decisions about the treatment of cancer, avoiding unnecessary or unbeneficial treatments.

Thyroid GuidePx™ categorizes patients according to the risk of recurrence so oncologists can create a treatment plan aligned with a patient's personal genomic information rather than general clinical guidelines. This individualized approach can reduce the magnitude of treatment for up to 85% of patients diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

  • Team members: David Bocking (COO), Dr. Oliver Bathe (CEO, co-founder, associate professor), Dr. Farshad Farshidfar, PhD (CTO), Brandon Friedt, CPA and Cynthia Stretch, PhD, (chief security officer)

OTHER PARTICIPANTS

DESTINE Health

DESTINE Health is a software company that empowers health-care systems to optimize their stroke patient outcomes starting with the hospital transport decision.

Ischemic stroke is a devastating disease that can result in severe disability if not treated quickly and appropriately. The challenge for health-care systems is determining when EMS should bypass closer non-surgical centres to get to surgery ASAP (consequently delaying the onset of any treatment). DESTINE can provide any health region in the world with custom, evidence-based transport maps.

  • Team members: Jessalyn Holodinsky, PhD (co-founder and CSO), Jennifer van Zelm, MSc (CEO) and Noreen Kamal, PhD (co-founder and CTO)

ENTiD

Diagnosing ear disease is notoriously difficult. Family doctors have only 50-per-cent diagnostic accuracy, and it can take up to 12 months to get an ear specialist referral.

ENTiD brings ear disease diagnosis into the 21st century. ENTiD provides a digital otoscope and ear disease diagnosis platform, enabling care providers to take ear images, store them, instantly e-consult an ear disease specialist, and access an AI-based ear disease diagnostic aid. The ENTiD platform lets doctors better diagnose ear disease, helping patients receive the care that they deserve.

  • Team members: Dr. Devon Livingstone, (CEO) and Rahul Arora, (COO).

Montane Medical

Intubation is a high-stakes, lifesaving medical procedure that involves placing a breathing tube into a patient's airway to breath for them using a tool called a laryngoscope.

Montane Medical has designed and patented a novel multifunctional video laryngoscope that allows the user to change intubation techniques in seconds maximizing their success rates. In addition, their device has monitor stabilization technology that keeps the monitor directly in the line of sight of the user regardless of the position of the handle. Montane Medical’s device will decrease negative outcomes by improving first pass intubation success rates.

  • Team members: Dr. Ian Schoonbaert (president and founder), Tammy Schoonbaert (COO), and Dr. Matthew Church (vice president of business strategy)

Okolo Health

Breast brachytherapy is a treatment option for women with early-stage breast cancer. Okolo Health is transforming the way the technique is delivered to streamline the procedure and improve the results of the therapy. Okolo has developed software that automatically generates personalized radiotherapy plans, as every patient is unique and requires a customized approach. 

Okolo Health is comprised of innovative clinicians who administer brachytherapy and are connected to an international clinical network. The Okolo products have already seen early sales and are poised to set the standard for global brachytherapy treatments.

  • Team members: Michael Roumeliotis, PhD, MCCPM (co-founder), Tyler Meyer, PhD, MCCPM (co-founder), Christian Bagg (co-founder), and Elizabeth Watt, PhD (research scientist).

The teams in the TENET i2c competition include representatives throughout the University of Calgary including the Cumming School of Medicine’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute, Libin Cardiovascular Institute, Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute, O’Brien Institute for Public Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and the Schulich School’s Biomedical Engineering program.

The TENET i2c program acknowledges the support of its partners and sponsors: INVENTURE$Alberta InnovatesReboxBennett JonesMNP LLP and Platform Calgary.