Medtech startups will compete for up to $50,000 at SNG’s Hawk’s Nest competition

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On November 22nd 2018, four medical technology startups will pitch live to an all-star panel of judges and a 300+ person audience at the second annual Hawk’s Nest.   

Sunnybrook Next Generation’s Hawk’s Nest is a medical technology pitch competition and fundraiser that showcases Canada’s most promising local medtech startups as they compete for a chance to win non-dilutive financing for their company.

It starts with dozens of startups. Numerous pitch applications from the city’s 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.” The pitches are followed by tough Q&A from the panel and scored across a set of categories. At the end of the night, the winner is selected by 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.

The first SNG Hawk’s Nest competition in 2017 raised $38,000 in support of the Sunnybrook Research Institute and another $38,000 in support of the 2017 Hawk’s Nest winner, Tréxō Robotics.

Founded in 2016 by University of Waterloo Mechatronics Engineering graduates Manmeet Maggu and Rahul Udasi, Tréxō Robotics developed the first human exoskeleton device for children with walking impairment conditions such as cerebral palsy, brain and spinal cord injury, stroke, neuromuscular conditions, and various genetic conditions. In its first year, the company took home the prestigious Lacavera Prize at the University of Toronto Hatchery Demo Day. By 2017, Tréxō was nominated as one of the best new startups at the 7th annual Canadian Innovation Awards.

Tréxō’s unique device, the Trexo Plus, can convert any passive walker into a fully-powered exoskeleton that can be used anywhere, anytime, and at a fraction of the price of currently available competitor devices. “With our device we see a future where kids can be given an option to be able to walk more and more” said Trexo CEO, Manmeet Maggu in an interview. “Whereas normally a child will be walking 50 steps in a day, with the Trexo we envision that would be over 1000 steps per day” Maggu explained. The company recently rolled out a second generation device to improve on its previous exoskeleton’s design.

Since winning Hawk’s Nest competition last year, Tréxō launched its first clinical trial at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Centre, the largest pediatric rehabilitation centre in North America and the first clinic to introduce the Lokomat, a computer-powered treadmill that gives Children with neuromuscular conditions the opportunity to learn what it feels like to walk.

While the funding they received has enabled Tréxō to reach their first clinical trial, the company plans on conducting multiple additional trials in order to continuously evaluate and grow their understanding of the benefits and the impact that their device provides. They recently received a Letter of Intent for a second trial at the St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in New York City and are currently in discussion with many top tier hospitals in Canada.

“The most important thing is to be relentlessly resourceful in your pursuit and finding support can be hard but it’s out there.”   

- Manmeet Maggu, CEO Trexo Robotics

Named as the ‘Company Most Likely to Change The World for the Better’ at the 2018 MIT Enterprise Forum Startup Spotlight Awards, Tréxō sees a future where their device can be in the hands of every child with a disability, giving them the opportunity to walk around freely. “Every time we have a child coming in to try the device, the response we get from the family about how they can’t wait to get their hands on this device for their kids just multiplies the motivation we have as a team and pushes us forward, and that is how we manage to uphold the values at Tréxō.”

The Medtech scene in the Waterloo-Toronto Tech Corridor is booming, but access to capital continues to be a major hurdle for growing companies.      

Tréxō financed their innovation through multiple different sources, including venture capital and government funding in addition to pitch competitions. “It is a tough space that can have fairly limited resources,” said Maggu.  “It’s a matter of leveraging your network and also creating a network and finding the opportunities that are out there. At the end of the day, the most important thing is to be relentlessly resourceful in your pursuit and finding support can be hard but it’s out there.”  He also recommends looking at grant programs that are available in Canada, and advised that companies “should not take the competitions lightly as they provide much more value than just the prize money.”

The success of Hawk’s Nest 2017 helped accelerate the growth of SNG and generated publicity for both Sunnybrook and the finalists Tréxō, Retispec, Acorn and VivaVax.

Toronto based Retispec is developing a non-invasive retinal scanner that detects biological markers of Alzheimer’s pathology years before the onset of symptoms, when patients are typically much more responsive to intervening therapeutics and other forms of treatment. Retispec recently announced a collaboration and a licensing agreement with the University of Minnesota with the goal of expanding the company’s technological knowledge base and accelerating time-to-market for a commercially viable screening tool for Alzheimer’s.

Acorn Biolabs has developed a mail-in non-invasive cell collection kit to cryopreserve and sequence human cells, while VivaVax is making biosafe formulations to protect sensitive medications from breaking down during transport and storage.

The 2018 Hawk’s Nest will host pitch finalists Steadiwear, KA Imaging, MIMOSA Diagnostics, and Cyclica  as well as over 25 booths from other Canadian Medtech companies.       

Toronto-based Steadiwear is a medical device company that has developed cutting-edge damping technology to improve wrist stability and tactile functionality in Parkinson’s Disease and Essential Tremor patients.Waterloo start-up KA Imaging has created a revolutionary 2D X-ray detector retrofit solution that can “see” different X-ray energy levels, enabling clear lung tissue visualization. A leading mHealth innovator, MIMOSA Diagnostics is building AI driven and cloud based patient monitoring and assessment tools. Cyclica is Toronto-based Biotechnology company developing a cloud-based and AI-augmented platform to enhance how scientists design, screen, and personalize medicines.

Hawk’s Nest 2018 will be held on November 22nd 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.

 

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