UTEST co-founder Lyssa Neel on start-up success

utestThe University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program‘s second cohort is coming to a close, with applications for a third cohort open until April 17.

The incubator program, a University of Toronto and MaRS Innovation joint partnership, helps affiliates of the university develop and commercialize their ideas. Successful applicants receive twelve months of mentoring to incubate their technology into a product, with access to immediate follow-on investment of up to $500,000 through MaRS Innovation. Access to provincial and federal funding resources is also available, with longer follow-on support if necessary.

Go to UTEST’s website for more information on program criteria and the programs first and second cohort graduates. (more…)

Portfolio snapshot: UTEST in the Wall Street Journal, OtoSim & Sylleta win pitch competitions

utestHere’s a snapshot of some recent portfolio activity:

To learn more about these and other start-up companies or licenseable technologies, view MaRS Innovation’s Portfolio.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, director of marketing and communications.

WaveCheck breast cancer technology receives $100,000

OICR’s catalyst grant enables WaveCheck to open first partner site at MD Anderson Cancer Center in May

waveTORONTO, April 8, 2014 — People with breast cancer are a step closer to knowing if their tumour is responding to chemotherapy at the start of treatment, thanks to a $100,000 catalyst grant from the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR).

The funding builds upon MaRS Innovation‘s Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for WaveCheck, which successfully raised over $50,000 from over 500 supporters worldwide in two months last fall.

Read Jane Gerster’s article for the Toronto Star about OICR’s catalyst grant for WaveCheck. This announcement was also covered in Metro, BetaKit and Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario’s Catalyst newsletter.

WaveCheck, a clinical technique invented, refined and tested by scientists at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Ryerson University over 20 years, aims to show whether chemotherapy is actually destroying a breast cancer tumour at the beginning of chemotherapy treatment (in as little as four weeks), rather than at the end of treatment (typically four to six months).

WaveCheck image

In this WaveCheck image, yellow indicates when a person’s breast cancer tumour is responding to treatment. Red indicates no response.

In early clinical testing, the non-invasive, image-guided technology has shown promise as an accurate, efficient way to monitor tumour response, opening the door to tailored treatment.

“This is a significant step towards achieving the goal of personalized medicine. The clinical trials will confirm that information provided by WaveCheck can determine if the treatment is the appropriate one or that other options should be chosen, sparing patients the side effects of treatments that will not likely be successful,” said Dr. Tom Hudson, OICR’s president and scientific director. “If successful, WaveCheck could become a standard tool in the cancer treatment of the future.” (more…)

MaRS Innovation Industry Access Program (MI-IAP) accepting applications until April 10

Researchers working in orphan indications, drug delivery devices, big data and other key areas invited to submit a brief Statement of Interest

The commercialization process: Moving transformational ideas from the lab bench to the street

MaRS Innovation’s commercialization process helps inventors move their transformational ideas from the lab bench to the street.

The MaRS Innovation Industry Access Program (MI-IAP) is a simple, formalized process for marketing early-stage technologies to MI’s industry partners: Baxter, LifeLabs (formerly CML Healthcare), GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Merck.

The program’s goal is to secure funding for researchers within MI’s membership through these collaborative, strategic R&D partnership programs.

First run in November 2013, the MI-IAP allows researchers to easily determine whether an industry partner is interested in co-developing their technologies. The application process is deliberately brief at the outset.

Ben Rogers

Ben Rogers, director, technology transfer & scouting

“Last fall, we received 28 statements of interest, 12 of which we invited to submit a non-confidential summary package,” said Ben Rogers, director, Technology Transfer & Scouting. “Of these, six have been invited for a technology presentation with an industry partner. We’d like to see all of those numbers grow during this application round.”

The program will also make it easier for researchers to find prospective industry partners. (more…)

MI’s Joel Liederman opens medical device panel at BioTransfer 2014

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Joel Liederman, MaRS Innovation’s vice-president of business development and commercialization, is Medical Devices Committee Chair this years BioTransfer conference in Toronto.

Joel Liederman, MaRS Innovation’s vice-president of Business Development and Commercialization for physical sciences, is attending BioTransfer 2014 on March 18 to chair the Medical Devices Committee.

This is the first year that Toronto is hosting the BioTransfer conference. Presenters at the one-day event will discuss biotherapeutics, diagnosis and medical technology. The conference’s goal is to share knowledge on current trends in the industry and to stimulate collaboration with private sector companies.

As chair, Liederman will open the medical devices committee panel discussion on Tuesday afternoon and give his insights on trends in the medical devices industry.

“Trends in medical devices are being heavily shaped by technical, demographic and economical factors, including an aging population with increasing healthcare needs, an overwhelmed regulatory system and increases in standard of living in developing nations,” says Liederman. (more…)

UTEST’s co-directors share what makes for a great start-up application

utestThe University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program helps U of T students, recent grads or professors to take their ideas to market.

Successful applicants get mentoring, funding and work space over a 12-month period as they advance their ideas. The program is co-managed by MaRS Innovation and the University of Toronto.

In a U of T “Spotlight on Startups” news article, Brianna Goldberg spoke with Mike Betts and Kurtis Scissons, UTEST co-directors, on what makes for a great applicant.

Here’s an excerpt:

What are you looking for in an exceptional UTEST application?
Evidence of a strong and committed team.  It’s critical to have standout technology and a great market opportunity but at the end of the day it’s the team that makes these businesses work—it’s about having a balance of amazing technical talent and business leadership and execution skills. When we come across an application that has a really awesome team, it stands out. – Mike Betts, UTEST co-director

What’s one common mistake you see in applications for UTEST that might cause them to be rejected?
Commitment. We want entrepreneurs that are fully committed to the program and to their new companies. UTEST is a serious program for serious entrepreneurs who want support to create a sustainable successful company. The application must exude your confidence in your idea and the effort the entrepreneur(s) will commit to see it successful.  Kurtis Scissons, UTEST co-director

What advice would you give to those considering applying to UTEST?
1. Build a balanced team. Understand the strengths of your team members and ensure that gaps can be addressed either through internal change or be open to external hires.

2. Be passionate about your idea but also understand it will be a rollercoaster of emotions. –Scissons

Betts and Scissons are accepting applications for UTEST’s third cohort until April 17. Current students, current faculty and recent graduates of U of T are welcome to apply. (more…)

Whirlscape exits beta, launches version 2.0 of the Minuum keyboard

Whirlscape Inc., a graduate of the University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program’s cohort graduate, exits beta with the version 2.0 release of Minuum, their hit “small keyboard for big fingers.”

Whirlscape Inc. graduated from the University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program’s first cohort. UTEST is accepting applications for its third cohort until April 17. Click here to apply. 

Version 2.0′s release is already a popular download for Android Apps in the Google Play store. Users can get a 30-day free trial of Minuum and experience new features, including a widely anticipated addition of a Brazilian Portuguese language module, the company’s most requested language.

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Whirlscape Inc. released version 2.0 of the Minuum keyboard with a host of new features, including the highly-requested addition of a Portuguese (BR) language module.

Will Walmsley, Whirlscape’s CEO, spoke with Daniel Bader of MobileSyrup. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“We’re constantly testing out new features and improving the disambiguation algorithms,” says Will Walmsley, CEO and co-founder of the company he started at U of T’s Dynamic Graphics Project lab. The company raised $500,000 in seed funding earlier this year, and under the advisement of Y Combinator, began releasing often, trialling new features in what they call Bonus Panels, secondary functions that quickly allow users to change languages, add emojis and more. (more…)

Techvibes highlights UTEST’s third cohort

utestTechvibes, a publication dedicated to covering latest trends in start-up culture and social and mobile news, covered the University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) program’s call for applications in an online article on March 1, 2014.

Applications for UTEST’s third cohort are open until April 17, 2014. Co-directors Kurtis Scissons and Mike Betts will work with selected applicants for a period of twelve months to guide their idea to market. Successful applicants receive work space for a year, mentorship, $30,000 in funding and access to industry expertise.

(more…)

OtoSim Inc. and U of T collaboration makes MEdSim Magazine

MEdSim Magazine profiled OtoSim Inc. and their partnership with the University of Toronto to establish a Student Training Fund in otoscopy.

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Led by a $200,000 donation by Mr. Ralph Chiodo of Active Green + Ross, OtoSim Inc. provided 66 OtoSim™ simulation units to U of T.

Otoscopy, the diagnostic examination of the ear, is one of the most poorly acquired medical skills in students because traditional methods of study rely on lectures and print material. Using the OtoSim™ simulation unit allows students to interactively improve otoscopy skills before they reach the clinic. (more…)

Whirlscape’s Minuum keyboard makes SmartTV typing easy

University of Toronto Early-Stage Technology (UTEST) graduate Whirlscape Inc. released a video on February 25, 2014 showing how their Minuum keyboard can make typing on Smart TVs and consoles easy.

UTEST is currently accepting applications for its third cohort. Apply now.

Minuum, the “little keyboard for big fingers” is making waves in wearable technology with their disambiguation algorithm and advanced language modelling, which can be used on Android devices and smart watches.

Read Darrell Etherington‘s article about Minuum on Smart TVs and consoles in Tech Crunch and coverage in Geeky Gadgets, an online technology review and resource publication. You can also read more about the U of T science behind Minuum here. (more…)

Welcome to MaRS Innovation

MaRS Innovation commercializes the most promising research breakthroughs from 16 of Toronto’s top universities, institutions and research institutes. Our portfolio, built through over 1,000 intellectual property disclosures from our member institutions, turns discoveries into businesses through industry partnerships, licensing arrangements and spin-off companies.


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