Ontario Brain Institute’s ONtrepreneurs program supports startups to commercialize brain-related technologies to ultimately improve brain health. This year, four new innovative neurotech companies join OBI’s growing portfolio.
Dr. Tom Mikkelsen
President & Scientific Director, Ontario Brain Institute
Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) has announced its 2020 cohort of ONtrepreneurs — winners of Canada’s single largest award for early-stage neurotech innovators.
Established in 2012, OBI’s ONtrepreneurs program provides successful candidates with an investment of $50,000, 12 months of training opportunities, one-on-one mentorship, and commercialization support to help launch and grow their ventures. After receiving OBI’s support, past participants like Resili, Mobio Interactive, Welbi, and Awake Labs have gone on to make waves in both the Canadian and global neurotech sectors.
“The program’s one of our most popular initiatives,” says Tom Mikkelsen, President and Scientific Director of OBI. “It allows early-stage entrepreneurs to bring their ingenious neurotech ideas to life and encourages other like-minded individuals to follow suit.”
Neurotech innovations with everyday implications
Matthew Rosato, President and Founder of PROVA Innovations, is one of this year’s ONtrepreneurs. A former aerospace engineer and business executive, he made the career shift with the goal of supporting his son, Samuel, with cerebral palsy. “I wanted to make life easier for my child, and I was in a unique position to use my professional expertise to make that happen” he says.
During scheduled physical therapy sessions, Rosato would watch his son make significant gains with his mobility and gait pattern. However, when they returned home, he noticed that without the oversight from the therapist, his son would revert to old habits.
Rosato decided to transfer his skills by creating a wearable shoe cover with the ability to measure foot position and deliver bio-feedback through the foot’s sole. The product is positioned to ultimately give his son, and thousands of others with cerebral palsy and other motor impairments, the ability to take the lessons they learn in physical therapy and make sure they’re employed in day-to-day life while also providing useful data for clinicians and researchers.
Making life-changing concepts a reality
As an OBI ONtrepreneur, Rosato’s now one step closer to bringing his technology to market.
“Launching PROVA Innovations has allowed me to merge the first-hand experience with my son and my engineering background, but what I was lacking was the expertise in neurology and life sciences to make sure we were on the right track. The partnership opportunities, training, and mentoring from OBI will have a profound impact on our business’ trajectory.”
Ross Romano, Ontario’s Minister of Colleges and Universities, congratulates this year’s ONtrepreneurs on their achievements in early-stage neurotech entrepreneurship. “This year’s award winners are a testament to Ontario’s world-class research and innovation sector,” he says. “I look forward to their continued success as they work to launch and grow their ideas.”
“Ontario is rapidly establishing itself as a global leader in neurotechnology,” says Dr. Mikkelsen. “We’re proud enablers of discovery and innovation that improve the lives of those living with brain disorders.”