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Corridor Medtech Startups Compete at the Third Annual SNG Hawk’s Nest

Sunnybrook Next Generation’s Hawk’s Nest is back for the third annual pitch competition and fundraiser, where four of the most promising local medtech startups will compete for a chance to win up to $50,000 in non-dilutive financing.

It starts with dozens of startups. Pitch applications from the most promising emerging medtech companies are screened and interviewed. Four medtech startups are selected and invited to pitch live to an expert panel of “Hawks.” At the end of the night, the winner is selected by an audience vote to receive 50% of the net proceeds from the event in non-dilutive funding, up to a maximum of $50,000. The remainder of the proceeds raised from the event are donated to the Sunnybrook Medventions Program. Taking the lead in addressing the domestic skills gap between discovery and commercialization of medical devices, the Medventions program nurtures local medtech expertise through streamlined entrepreneurial training to bring innovations from bench to bedside.

The success of Hawk’s Nest over the past two years has helped to accelerate the growth of SNG and generated publicity for Sunnybrook and all the finalists, including Tréxō Robotics, Retispec, Acorn Biolabs, VivaVax, Steadiwear, KA Imaging, MIMOSA Diagnostics, and Cyclica.

Hawk’s Nest has raised more than $200,000 with a total of over $60,000 awarded to winning companies, including 2017 winner, Tréxō Robotics, and 2018 winner, MIMOSA Diagnostics.

Left to right: SNG Hawk’s Nest Co-Chairs Jesse Buckstein & David Tile; 2018 Winner, MIMOSA Diagnostics CEO, Dr. Karen Cross; Event MC and BetaKit Editor-in-Chief Douglas Soltys; The “Hawks” – Jacki Jenuth (Partner at Lumira Capital), Armen Bakirtzian (Co-Founder & CEO at Intellijoint Surgical Inc.), Andrea Matheson (Founder and CEO at M5.0 Inc.), Andrew Duckman (Managing Director at Bloom Burton & Co.)

MIMOSA is a leading mobile health innovator that is building the next generation of AI driven and cloud based patient monitoring and assessment tools. Developed by Dr. Karen Cross, a surgeon-scientist at St. Michael’s Hospital, and Dr. General Leung, a magnetic resonance physicist, MIMOSA’s state of the art platform uses non-invasive multi-spectral mobile tissue analysis to assess and measure the physiology of tissue health and viability. By photographing the skin with near-infrared light, the device detects poor blood circulation in the feet, which can lead to foot ulcers in 15%-25% of individuals with diabetes.

For medtech startups such as MIMOSA, the impact of winning the Hawk’s Nest pitch competition extends far beyond the financial support. While the funding can help to pay employees or finance current projects, “It’s the connections with the people that you make that has a bigger impact,” Dr. Cross explained, “because that is going to lead you to the next round of funding, maybe a piece of business advice, or the next connection. The more people you can meet in the startup space, the more value you can add to your company long term.”

Dr. Cross delivered a powerful pitch at the 2018 Hawk’s Nest competition that was grounded in the personal story of MIMOSA. In a follow up interview, Dr. Cross noted, “The company was born because of a personal story, and telling that story is critical because it shows the passion behind what we are doing but also why we are doing it. The motivation is different for why we want to be successful as a company.”

Acknowledging the challenges of starting a company and bringing a medical device to the market, Dr. Cross emphasised personal motivation as a critical element of their success. “You have to be prepared that along the way there are going to be hurdles, there are going to be obstacles,” she said, “but I know with my passion and expertise that I can overcome those hurdles because it is worth it, as I am personally affected.”

Between herself and her co-founder, they have dedicated almost 15 years to the science behind this device, so it’s not only a personal story but it’s also their lives. From sacrificing hours in the lab and sleeping on the hospital floor to collect data from patients, to missing birthdays and Christmases. “I think that’s the piece that most people don’t realize when you get up to pitch something in the medical field,” Dr. Cross said. “They don’t see the inflatable mattress in the office that I was sleeping on for weeks just to make this thing work. You have to have that passion and also have shown previously that you are willing to do almost anything to work out the obstacles you might have, even before you start the company.”

Dr. Cross insists that in order to maintain a balance your work has to be your vocation, but outside of work you have to make your life “a quality life.” She also feels that the individuals they hired are really passionate about the company’s vision. Her main advice for startups is, “hire the right people and don’t be afraid to let people go. Surround yourself by good people, smarter people than you, and if it’s not working then you have to find someone else.”

While citing limited funding and long hospital procurement cycles as the two biggest obstacles facing medtech startups in Canada, Dr. Cross attributed access to talent, manufacturing facilities, and government incentives as the main reasons for growing MIMOSA in Canada.

MIMOSA recently achieved a major milestone in receiving FDA clearance and is currently working on its vision of reaching remote rural regions where individuals lack access to care.

The 2019 Hawk’s Nest will host pitch finalists Vena Medical, Epineuron Technologies, COSM Medical and NERv Technology Inc.

Based out of Waterloo, ON, Vena medical is providing physicians with the world’s smallest camera capable of going inside veins and arteries making interventional procedures faster, easier and safer. Headquartered in Bolton, ON, Epineuron is building the world’s first electroceutical device engineered to boosts the nerve’s natural biochemical process to accelerate regeneration following peripheral nerve injuries. COSM is a Toronto, ON, based startup developing custom gynecological prosthetics (gynothodics) to treat pelvic floor disorders using new ultrasound technology to model and 3D print individualized gynothodics. Kitchener-based NERv is developing an implantable biochip platform to detect post-operative complications. Their diagnostic smart catheter system is embedded with micro-sensors to significantly reduce the detection time for leakage related post-surgical complications.

Hawk’s Nest 2019 will be held on November 21st from 6-10pm EST at Toronto’s MaRS Discovery District and will be proceeded by an open bar reception.

CLICK HERE to get your ticket and join a high profile panel of “Hawks” and large audience of professionals in selecting which of these promising companies will take home the winning prize.

SWODF New Application Intake Dates Announced

The Southwestern Ontario Development Fund (SWODF) provides support for business growth projects and funding to cover up to 15% of project costs.

SWODF is maintained by The Regional Development Fund which supports eligible small- and medium-sized businesses investing in new equipment and training to expand operations in these regions, and also supports municipalities and not-for-profit organizations investing in economic development projects.

Funding

Loans

Up to 15% funding to a maximum of $5M, interest free-during the project period (up to 4 years). Up to 30% of the loan ($500,000 maximum) may be forgiven if investment and job targets are achieved.

Grants

Grants are available only for specific circumstances, up to 15% to a maximum of:

  • $500,000 for rural Ontario businesses with less than 100 employees.
  • $1.5M for strategic projects that are foreign direct investments or from companies competing against other jurisdictions.

* SWODF funding cannot be combined (“stacked”) with other provincial programs.

Eligibility

To be eligible, businesses must be:

  • Investing a minimum of $500,000 in their project ($200,000 for rural Ontario).
  • Employing at least 10 people ( 5 for rural Ontario).
  • Committed to creating at least 5 new jobs (or 30% increase for companies with fewer than 15 employees).
  • Able to provide 3 years of operations/financial statements.
  • Located, or plan to be located, in Southwestern Ontario.

Applications

There are four application intake periods per year for full applications. Applicants will be notified of decisions within 60 business days of the application deadline.

Eligibility checklists may be submitted at any time.

Application PeriodAssessment PeriodNotification Date
December 2, 2019-January 20, 2020January 21, 2020-April 16, 2020April 16, 2020
March 5, 2020-April 20, 2020April 21, 2020-July 15, 2020July 15, 2020
June 5, 2020-July 20, 2020July 21, 2020-October 15, 2020October 15, 2020
September 3, 2020-October 19, 2020October 20, 2020-January 15, 2021January 15, 2021

To find out more about SWODF and other sources of funding to offset the costs of business growth, workforce development and innovation contact us today for a free consultation.

Made in Canada: Sustaining a Global Competitive Advantage in Cannabis Technology

Last month marked the one year anniversary since Canada became the first G7 country to legalize cannabis. On October 17, 2019, the Canadian Cannabis Regulations were updated to establish rules for the legal production and sale of three new classes of cannabis including edibles, extracts, and topicals, which are expected to become available for purchase in physical and online stores beginning in mid-December 2019.

With Canada currently representing the second-largest legal cannabis market in the world, innovation is now more vital than ever to maintaining a sustainable competitive Canadian advantage in the global cannabis value chain.

While legalization has attracted unprecedented levels of investment and has paved the way for accelerated research, clinical Cannabis research remains in its infancy with limited and often conflicting open-source information requiring heavy R&D investments to distinguish companies in this oversaturated market. Additionally, with the expansion of the market in terms of volumes and formats, much research is needed in harvesting/ processing technologies and product development.

Fortunately, costs of innovation in the cannabis industry can be offset with non-dilutive funding which can critically extend a company’s runway, bridge the funding gap to commercialization, and reduce the risk for investors.

Funding Cannabis R&D in Canada

The SR&ED tax credit program is the most lucrative source of non-dilutive funding for companies performing R&D in Canada, providing up to 68% back on eligible R&D expenditures for Qualified Canadian Controlled Private Corporations (CCPC’s) and 43% for Foreign-owned or public corporations depending on the province.

Examples of SR&ED in Cannabis include:

1. Edibles, Beverages, Extracts, and Topicals

  • Enhancing nutrient content or eliminating allergens.
  • Increasing product quality, yield, or shelf-life.
  • Overcoming ingredient interference (i.e. chocolate) with potency testing.
  • Maintaining formulaic stability, solubility, and dispersion
  • Developing terpene-based organoleptic profiles.
  • Scaling up and improving process efficiency.
  • Overcoming limitations of processes that utilize reagents (ethanol, CO2, propane).
  • Improving/developing extraction sequences and process parameters, and new isolation methods.
  • Reducing water consumption, or improving heating/cooling processes.
  • Developing innovative sustainable cannabis packaging solutions.

2. Medicinal & Pharmaceutical

  • Developing novel cannabis treatments and medical procedures.
  • Clinically assessing patient response to different doses, strains, and cultivation practices. 
  • Developing new, innovative methods to assess cannabinoid concentration.
  • Developing methods to test medicinal ingredient accuracy for consumers and industry professionals.

3. Cultivation/Harvesting

  • Testing the effects of climate/growing conditions (temperature and humidity, mineral composition of soil ph., and light exposure) and relative cultivation sequences on yield/ potency and the resulting product quality (yield, potency, terpenes profile).
  • Assessing growth conditions relative to processing parameters and product efficacy.
  • Developing new bio-stimulants for disease resistance, new fertilizer blends for boosting yield or developing biological pest controls.
  • Performing gene editing and breeding studies.
  • Integrating automation processes and equipment.  

4. ICT

  • Improving diagnostic and data analytics.
  • Developing cloud biology platforms and software applications.
  • Developing Smart Farming, IoT, and security systems.  

Bridging the Funding Gap

SR&ED funding can be combined with other sources of non-dilutive financing at various stages of growth to bridge the funding gap from product development to commercialization. 

Advanced SR&ED Financing: While the SR&ED tax credit program is critical for the viability of Canadian companies, it often takes over one year to receive the funding, which can be challenging, particularly for early stage companies. Advanced SR&ED accrual debt financing helps to bridge the financing gap by enabling companies to gain access to up to 80% of their SR&ED refund as soon as six months pre-filing.

Agri and Regional R&D funding: The Canadian Agricultural Partnership (CAP) is a five-year, $3 billion, federal-provincial-territorial agreement, that will replace Growing Forward 2 (GF2), and provides cost-sharing funding for processors and other agri-related businesses. The FedDev Rural Innovation Initiative (RII) regional stream is a non-repayable grant for SMEs operating in rural Southern Ontario within priority sectors that covers up to 50% of eligible project costs for a maximum of $100,000.

Commercialization: The Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) supports companies that are investing in new technology projects that lead to new products, processes, or services in Canada, with an emphasis on commercialization. IRAP will cover labour and subcontractor costs. IRAP can be paired with SR&ED to increase the total funding amounts, provided adequate deductions for overlap are made.

Export: CanExport is a government funding program that provides funding to Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support new export market development. Previously, the CanExport program excluded the agriculture and food processing sectors, since companies in these industries were already eligible for export funding through the AgriMarketing program. However, as of August 22, 2019, the program will also be expanded to include supporting companies from Canada’s agriculture, agri-food and agri-products industry, including fish and seafood. CanExport’s funding limit for SMEs will also increase to $75,000 to cover up to 75% of eligible expenses.

Having a first mover advantage with federal legalization, Canada is poised to lead the world in cannabis R&D and evidence-based cannabis policy; however, this will require continued investment in R&D and the commercialization of ‘Made in Canada’ innovations in cannabis.  

Contact us today for a free assessment of your funding eligibility

Three Kitchener-Waterloo Startups Ranked Fastest Growing Canadian Technology Companies

Waterloo Region startups took the top 3 spots on the 2019 Deloitte Technology Fast 50 list, which ranks Canada’s fastest-growing technology companies by their reported (%) revenue growth over a three-year period.

The Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ celebrates leadership, innovation, and excellence in the technology sector by recognizing forward-thinking companies at the cutting edge of innovation. 

First and second places went to Kitchener-based ApplyBoard (12,525%) and Intellijoint Surgical (10,246%), while Waterloo-based Auvik Networks was ranked third (7,913%) in the list of Canada’s fastest-growing tech companies.

ApplyBoard is the world’s largest SaaS-enabled international student recruitment platform that enables student to access the best education available.

Intellijoint Surgical, a portfolio company with our sister firm, NorthSpring Capital Partners, is revolutionizing surgical navigation solutions for total joint replacements. Their flagship product, Intellijoint HIP® is a 3D mini-optical navigation solution that assists surgeons in reaching preoperative surgical targets by providing real-time, intraoperative measurements for cup position, leg length, offset and hip center of rotation during a Total Hip Arthroplasty (THA). Intellijoint recently launched a med-tech hub in Kitchener, The Medical Innovation Xchange (MIX) that will help local companies to scale up.

Auvik Networks develops cloud-based software that simplifies and automates network monitoring and management for IT managed service providers by providing instant network insight and automating complex and time-consuming network tasks.

Toronto’s Borrowell (7,680%) and Ecopia.AI (6,186%) were ranked 4th and 5th fastest growing tech companies, respectively.

Out of the 50 winners, 27 companies were from Ontario, 10 were from British Columbia, and 7 were from Quebec.

Two companies from BC and two companies from Quebec made it into the top 20, including Vancouver’s Mojio (4,056%), Maple Ridge’s Left (1,424%), Montreal’s AlayaCare, and Saint-Laurent’s VOTI Detection Inc.

To qualify for the Deloitte Technology Fast 50 ranking, companies must be in business for at least four years, headquartered and conducting R&D in Canada, with proprietary technology, at least $5M in revenue and a minimal 5% investment of gross revenues in R&D. 

R&D investments can be offset by combining various government funding programs. Contact us today for a free assessment of your funding eligibility.

Workforce Development Funding for Biotech Companies

As issues with climate change and rapidly depleting resources are becoming more urgent, there is a pressing need to form strategies to achieve sustainable development goals (SDGs). In Canada, a bio-economy is being adapted as a key strategy to support SDGs. Bio-economy is defined as economic activities associated with the invention, development, production and use of products and processes that are based primarily on biological resources. This emerging paradigm spans several industries including medical technology, agri-biotech, renewable energy, and biomaterials.

Rapid developments in biotechnology require a skilled talent pool to meet industry demands. However, the shortage of skilled professionals in the biotech space and unwillingness to employ recent graduates stunt industry growth. As 80% of the Canadian bio-economy consists of small to medium-sized enterprises, limited resources are often cited as a barrier to hiring new talent.

Wage-subsidy programs, like the Student Work Placement program and the Science Horizons Youth Internship program offered by BioTalent Canada, can help knock down barriers related to initial hiring costs by providing financial support to employers. BioTalent Canada also facilitates connections between full-time students/recent graduates and employers seeking fresh candidates that may potentially meet future recruitment needs through student work placement and internship programs.

Student Work Placement Program (SWPP)

Wage subsidies provided by this program cover the cost of a co-op student’s salary by 50% (maximum of $5,000); or 70% (maximum of $7,000) for first-year students and under-represented groups. Since September 2017, the program has placed over 900 students with over 275 employers providing the students with industry skills and employers with opportunities to increase their workforce.

To qualify for the program, employers must:

  • Show a clear focus on bio-economy, in either the nature of co-op position or the employer.
  • Provide a full-time co-op placement position with a minimum of 16-week placement.

The participant/student must be:

  • Enrolled as a full-time student at a post-secondary education institution and studying in fields related to science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM), business and/or any other program
  • A Canadian citizen, permanent resident, or persons to whom refugee protection has been conferred and legally entitled to work in Canada

Applications are currently being accepted for 2019-2020 co-op placements.

Science Horizons Youth Internship Program

This program offers wage subsidies (maximum of $15,000) to bio-economy employers for hiring recent STEM graduates into a STEM position with an environmental focus. As of March 2019, the program has placed 106 graduates with 67 employers across 37 cities nationwide. Growing participation in this program would equip participants with tools to pursue career paths specific to solving environmental/sustainability issues and increase the number of skilled professionals in the environmental sector.

To qualify for the program, employers must:

  • Provide a position with a clear environmental component.
  • Provide an internship position with full-time hours and a duration between 6-12 months (minimum of 6 months)
  • Shoulder 50% of the internship cost.

The participants must be:

  • Aged 30 or under at the beginning of the internship and graduated in the last 3 years from a post-secondary institution from a STEM program.
  • Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or persons who have been granted refugee status in Canada, and legally entitled to work in Canada

The program is currently accepting applications until March 30th, 2020.

Bio – Economy Subsectors Eligible for Funding From Bio-Talent Canada

Bio-health

  • Medical cannabis
  • Medical Devices
  • Biopharmaceuticals
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Natural-compound bioactives
  • Bio-molecules
  • eHealth/Artificial Intelligence

Bio-energy

  • Biodiesel
  • Ethanol
  • Methane
  • Bio-oil
  • Sustainable development

Bio-industrial

  • Biocatalyst
  • Biosolvents
  • Bioplastics
  • Biocoatings
  • Bioadhesives

Agri-biotech

  • Agri-fibre composites
  • Animal Genetics
  • Plant Genetics
  • Livestock Vaccines
  • Animal Nutritional Supplements
  • Functional Foods

To learn more about how your company can leverage non-dilutive funding to develop your workforce, grow your business, support R&D activities, and accelerate commercialization contact us today for a free consultation.

Authored by Rebecca Galicha, Technical Writer at NorthBridge Consultants.

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