Meet two companies represented in the fourth cohort of TechAlliance’s BURST program. We sat down with Western Medical Innovation Fellowship‘s most recent alumni Dr. Maryanne Siu, Dr. Jacob Reeves, Dr. Mahmoud Ramin, Bartosz Slak and Dr. Ibrahim Marwa to discuss their two BURST-supported companies, ONPoint Medical Inc. and Tune-OUT Medical Inc. and the combined $140,000 in funding that they will receive over the course of the program.
What are ONPoint Medical and Tune-OUT Medical? How did they each come together?
Tune-OUT Medical aims to help ophthalmologists and patients undergoing eye surgery by providing a way to mask, or ‘tune-out’, ocular sensation in order to prevent disruptive reflexive movements that can lead to surgical complications and cancellations.
ONPoint Medical is a medical device company that improves dynamic balance assessments to help practitioners track the dynamic balance of patients who are recovering from balancing performance, specifically on lower-limb injuries.
Through Western’s Medical Innovation Fellowship, we were able to visit clinics, emergency rooms, operating theatres, then ask ourselves, “What are the unmet needs?” based on the knowledge that we learned from the Boot Camp portion of our fellowship program at the University of Minnesota Medical Devices Center. We narrowed these down, based on our expertise, our interest and feasibility, then we ended up with these two projects.
We had initially defined more than 250 clinical needs stemming from ideas that we discovered during the immersion part of the program. After observing clinicians, taking notes about what they do and how they do it, we started to develop ideas on how we could help. Narrowing down how we could connect these issues with our expertise, filtering down the ideas and how to address them in the most efficient way, we came up with these.
When we applied for BURST funding, we were designing the first versions of the prototypes for each project. We knew we would need more funding, as well as mentoring and direction after the end of our ten and a half-month program as fellows, so support from BURST would assist with these next steps, specifically in regards to refining our business models in preparation for going to market.
Our goal for the next year is to fine-tune the business models for each company and find out how we can be successful in each stream.
What are your thoughts on being part of London’s entrepreneurial ecosystem?
We’ve come to understand the importance of mentorship and are grateful to have Lisa Schellenberg and Colin Macaulay (TechAlliance’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence) to fill this role. We know that with the conclusion of the fellowship, we won’t have the same kind of access that we do right now. Now that we have access to mentors through BURST, we can solve our problems from new perspectives with effective guidance. Not only is the funding important for startups, but finding the right support from mentors and having them be accessible – that’s what’s important.
TechAlliance’s BURST program is an innovative incubation program for high-potential life science startups and scale-ups. To learn more about the program, past and current cohorts, visit techalliance.ca/burst