Dec. 3, 2021

UCalgary team wins first provincial REHAB i2c Pitch Competition

Eight teams of innovators pitched their rehabilitation startups, vying for a $100,000 grand prize toward commercialization
NanoTess team
The pitch competition moved startup NanoTess closer to its mission to support individuals who suffer from chronic wounds.

On Nov. 25, the top eight teams in the field of health rehabilitation in Alberta pitched live to a panel of judges for the chance to win the grand prize of $100,000 toward commercialization.

The winner: an entrepreneurial UCalgary-connected startup that uses nanotechnology to solve a wide variety of health-related needs. 

The first-ever REHAB i2c Pitch Competition was hosted by the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking at the University of Calgary in partnership with the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital.

The eight startups that pitched were:

  • Click and Push Accessibility Inc. presented the Atlas, a voice-interactive navigation app that empowers digital citizens with accessibility information about societal spaces;
  • NanoTess Inc., based and founded in Calgary, created a wound dressing that aims to support chronic wound patients with both infection protection and natural healing throughout their wound care journey;
  • Kairos Cognitive Care Inc., whose mission is to help clients understand and apply instructions they have been given by professional support through individualized, in-context coaching;
  • MecSim uses a non-invasive surface scanning approach for clinicians to monitor scoliosis and to prescribe conservative treatment options;
  • Raft Rehabilitation helps kids recovering from injuries to get more from their home-based exercise program by delivering medically necessary but boring exercises in immersive, story-based video games;
  • MOVE Improve, whose mission is to decrease patients’ frustration of learning new skills and to help patients get faster results;
  • Advocacy and Innovation in Child Prosthetics Foundation provides affordable, customized, and lightweight 3D printed prosthetics tailored toward children’s high-priority activities so they can continue to do the things they love a little bit easier; and
  • Bodiometer helps chiropractic clinics increase their revenue by improving patient engagement, increasing patient retention, and facilitating new referrals through interactive and educational visual feedback.

UCalgary-affiliated winner 

At the end of the competition, the judges deliberated and awarded the $100,000 grand prize to NanoTess, co-founded in 2020 by UCalgary graduates Megan Leslie, BComm’19, and Julian Mulia, MEng’19. The company is a member of Innovate Calgary’s Life Sciences Innovation Hub. Congratulations to the winning team!

“The work we are doing at NanoTess is personal to myself and my incredible co-founding team,” says Leslie, NanoTess CEO and co-founder. “My co-founder unfortunately lost both his parents to chronic health conditions where last resort treatment options were either not available or unaffordable. This led us to create NanoTess. Participating in the REHAB i2c Pitch Competition was a fantastic opportunity! Not only did this competition provide an incredible platform to pitch NanoTess, but it is a stepping stone towards achieving our mission to support individuals who suffer from chronic wounds.”

NanoTess is no stranger to the competitive startup market. In April 2021, the team won Startup Canada's CXC competition both regionally and nationally. A month later, the firm graduated from Creative Destruction Lab-Rockies, a mentoring program for massively scalable science-based companies. CDL-Rockies — part of the Innovation Ecosystem at UCalgary — is an extension program of the Haskayne School of Business.

About the REHAB i2c program

What happens when you combine the passion of helping others in need with cutting-edge innovation, business training, and mentorship support? Startups from right here at home are thinking big and building solutions that can improve the quality of life for Albertans and beyond.

Created by the Hunter Hub in partnership with the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital in Edmonton, the new REHAB i2c program was also made possible by a generous donation from Prairies Economic Development Canada. The program, modeled after the successful TENET i2c program for life sciences companies at UCalgary, aims to accelerate the growth of early-stage startups in the rehabilitation health field by providing essential resources, including capital, training, and mentorship.

Commercial potential

“The companies that participated in the REHAB i2c program have the unique opportunity to meet and work with other rehab entrepreneurs while accelerating the commercialization of their research ideas to better the community,” said Dr. Geoff Gregson, acting director of research and innovation at ​the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. “Because of the entrepreneurial training provided by the Hunter Hub and mentorship from our partners, the companies are on the right track to succeed upon entering the market.”

“We were delighted to work with the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital to develop a new, novel program that supported and advanced the commercialization potential of the top rehab startups across Alberta,” said Keri Damen, executive director of the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking. “It was inspiring to see the ingenuity and innovation happening across Alberta and work together to accelerate these ventures’ journeys to positively impact lives.”

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Created with a generous gift from the Hunter Family Foundation in 2017, the Hunter Hub for Entrepreneurial Thinking is UCalgary’s community innovation hub that transforms lives and economies through fostering entrepreneurial thinking in students, faculty, and the community. Our mission is to create and support game-changing innovators and accelerate their ideas from conception to impact.

The Hunter Hub contributes to the University of Calgary’s strategic vision to be the most entrepreneurial university in Canada.