three life science companies compete for cash and in-kind prizes
On April 6, a record number of attendees from Hamilton’s life science community gathered at McMaster Innovation Park to witness the Synapse Life Science Competition final showcase.
The event showcased nine teams: all nine through poster presentations while the top three presented their innovations live on stage to a panel of industry experts, competing for $55,000 in cash and professional resources. The Synapse Life Science Consortium, Johnson & Johnson (JLabs) and GlaxoSmithKline provided generous cash prizes totalling $25,000. In-kind prizing included Intellectual Property packages from our legal partners at Gowling WLG, Ridout & Maybee LLP and Sabeta IP, and two business development and strategy packages from Focus Consulting and Shift Health.
The top three finalists – TopSpin360, Virtual Possibilities and Provant – each had 20 minutes to impress the judging panel, including executives from Amgen Canada, GlaxoSmithKline Canada, Novatio Ventures and Johnson & Johnson (JLabs).
TopSpin360 won the grand prize for their multi-planar, neuro-muscular training device that helps improve neck muscle responsiveness to sudden head accelerations that can result in concussions. They are also developing a screening algorithm to help assess an individual’s pre-participation concussion risk which would provide added security, peace of mind and legal protection for players, leagues and insurance companies. The company took home $20,000 in cash, a $10,000 Business Development and Funding Strategy package, a $5,000 consulting package, and an IP package worth $5000 from our legal partners.
the impact of investing in life science startups
Theo Versteegh, founder and CTO of TopSpin 360, spoke about his team’s experience with the Synapse competition and how their prizes will impact the company: “The Synapse competition has been a great experience for us. The business support and guidance from the Innovation Factory team has been extremely valuable and has provided us with great resources. Working with recent MBA graduates and current students from the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University provided incredible insight into our company and has generated key business documents that we will use for years to come. The generous prizes will help us further fund our product development as we prepare for a full launch into the market, prepare our funding strategy and strengthen our data collection, IP protection and management.”
Virtual Possibilities took second place, receiving $2500 in cash and a $5000 IP package from our legal partners. Provant, coming in third, takes home $1500 cash and an IP package valued at $5000.
On his company’s second place win, Virtual Possibilities’ CEO Mitch Wilson said, “Synapse embodies what our team at Virtual Possibilities has believed from the beginning – that Hamilton is an excellent base for life sciences startups. As we continue to develop our surgical platform LaparoGuard, we look forward to our continued relationship with the world-class healthcare institutions in our city that are improving the lives of Hamiltonians and beyond.”
Virtual Possibilities is developing a novel surgical navigation system technology called LaparoGuard, designed to markedly improve the safety profile and accuracy of laparoscopic procedures. This solution reduces surgical tool-patient tissue “collisions”, reduces costly readmission procedures and improves the efficiency, workflow speed, and preoperative planning in an operating room by increasing surgeons’ confidence in the correct placement of hardware therapy.
Provant has created a medical image-guidance platform that can be used to target prostate cancer and deliver therapeutic interventions less invasively. The platform enables doctors to plan, deliver, and monitor specific therapies with greater accuracy, thereby reducing the risk of side effects and delivering better therapeutic outcomes. Provant’s CEO, Sergio Aguirre, is a graduate of McMaster University.
Suncayr won the poster prize of $1000 cash. The other five poster finalists included: BioLab-in-Pills, Oral Health Innovation Ontario, Penta, 20/20 Optimeyes, and Qidni Labs Inc.
David Carter, Executive Director at Innovation Factory, remarked on the large crowd and the growth of the Synapse competition as a testament to the Hamilton’s strength in the health and life sciences: “It’s evident that Hamilton’s life science sector is thriving and we’re drawing a lot of attention from beyond our own borders,” said Carter. “The companies participating are increasingly impressive and their innovations are potentially life-changing.”
While the judges deliberated following finalist presentations, keynote speaker Dr. David Young, shared his experience building a life science startup. Dr. Young is founder and CEO of Actium Research Inc., a private biotechnology company that discovers and develops drugs that target cancer stem cells.
The Synapse final showcase is the culmination of months of hard work. Back in January, the competition teamed up life science innovators with business students from McMaster University. Together, each team produced both business and commercialization plans for their ventures. All of the finalists also participated in training sessions to help them complete the plans and fully prepare for the final showcase.
Congratulations to our winners and all finalists who participated in the competition!