Science. Technology. Health Care. Welcome to the Ward of the 21st Century.

News & Events | Articles | November 29, 2013

W21C Innovation Academy brings Western Canadian innovators to the global stage

by Julia MacGregor

Inspiration, it can strike from anywhere: from practical experience to identifying a gap or recognizing inefficiencies. As part of an international collaboration with Hong Kong Polytechnic University; the University of Geneva, Switzerland; and the University of Pretoria in South Africa, W21C (The Ward of the 21st Century) at the University of Calgary is seeking out the best health care innovations that have the potential to stimulate significant change to health care and health systems delivery.

Through the inaugural W21C Innovation Academy, which took place on November 12, 2013, 13 health care innovations competed for the top prize of a $10,000 grant-in-aid. This fast-paced business pitch competition brought participants from across Alberta and British Columbia to be put to the test in front of an audience of over 100 people and an interdisciplinary jury with backgrounds in marketing, academia, business, finance, innovation and commercialization.

“This event was an enormous success,” says Dr. Andre Buret, Associate VP, Research at the University of Calgary and co-moderator for the event. “The high quality of all the presentations clearly underscore that the ‘Innovation Academy’ has tremendous potential to grow into an international caliber showcase for research and innovation.”

SnapDx, a Calgary based mobile health startup from Startup Calgary’s Co-founder and Chairman, Hisham Al-Shurafa, and University of Calgary resident physicians Drs. Rahul Mehta and Aravind Ganesh, took first prize - also winning the audience favourite for best Mad Minute Presentation. SnapDx provides interactive, visual mobile applications that help patients and practitioners to quickly access medical knowledge by not relying solely on text to convey the information

“As a young start-up, winning the W21C Innovation Academy has been a defining moment for us,” says Al-Shurafa. “It pulled us together as a team, put pressure on us to deliver and win, and it has opened up many doors for us that would’ve taken longer to open.”

Second prize went to Calgary based Orpyx Medical Technologies led by CEO and President, Dr. Breanne Everett, who is also a resident physician at the University of Calgary. Orpyx has developed sensor-based technologies and sensory substitution systems to monitor foot pressure and provide peripheral feedback to diabetic patients.

Third prize was awarded to Vancouver based company Medeo, which provides secure telehealth to anyone via computer, iPhone or iPad , regardless of location, mobility, or time restrictions.

As part of this global partnership event, the three winning innovations from each of the International Innovation Academies will be invited to compete at the Global Innovation Academy, to take place in the spring of 2014 in Geneva, Switzerland.

“Simply put, this is what biomedical research can lead to,” says Buret. “An Innovation Academy is exactly the type of initiative that addresses current demands by governments, funding agencies, and the community.”

All of the presentations from the W21C Innovation Academy were recorded, including the keynote address from science writer and broadcaster Jay Ingram, are available online now.

For more information on the event, or to view the videos, please visit the official W21C Innovation Academy Website.