The Braze Mobility Blog

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‘We’re in a good place right now’: Women entrepreneurs share their experiences at U of T event

03/08/2019

Building a startup company is a daunting prospect – often more so if you’re a woman. But things may finally be starting to change. That was one takeway from a panel discussion, held on the eve of International Women’s Day, featuring three female founders from the University of Toronto. While all three panellists – Leila Keshavjee, Saara Punjani and Pooja Viswanathan – acknowledged the myriad challenges women founders still face in the business world, two of the entrepreneurs said gender had relatively little to do with the roadblocks they faced while trying to launch their companies.  “I’ve been lucky to not have the fact that I’m a woman get in my way,” said Punjani, who is the chief operations officer at Structura Biotechnology, which uses artificial intelligence to help pharmaceutical companies visualize proteins for drug discovery. She attributed her positive experience, in part, to the support of her team, which includes Structura co-founder and CEO Ali Punjani – her brother. Viswanathan, meantime, credited the fact she had a PhD when she started building “smart” wheelchair company Braze Mobility for helping to dull any gender discrimination she might have faced while dealing with male clients and investors. “We’re in a good place right now – we’re seeing a lot of support,” said Viswanathan, citing various...

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HELLO, TOMORROW!

03/01/2019

Robotics have the potential to impact CRT in a big way. How are startups and researchers tackling the complicated landscape? When Dan Ding first started as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pittsburgh in 2001, she had never heard the term “rehabilitation robotics.” She attended robotics conferences while earning her Ph.D. in Hong Kong, but rarely saw sessions on healthcare applications, much less the type of work that would soon change the complex rehab technology (CRT) industry. “I don’t think at the time the term was coined,” Ding, now an associate professor in the university’s Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, told Mobility Management. “I definitely witnessed the whole growth of this technology’s involvement in rehabilitation and assistive technology, so I feel very fortunate that, before that happened, I was able to get into this field.” Ding’s early experiences are a far cry from the landscape of robotics in complex rehab today, where new startups have introduced technology ranging from eye-gaze wheelchair controls to blind-spot sensors that can be mounted on several parts of a power chair. Large manufacturers are following suit by integrating new developments, such as patient monitoring technology, into their seat cushions and chairs. While there...

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