It all began on August 26 and 27. The Breaking Boundaries: Collaboration Challenge launched the 2021 Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovation Experience (iEX) Virtual Series with amazing success. Over 425 participants tuned in over the two days to see 19 external health care innovators, entrepreneurs and start-ups pitch their early-stage solutions for the chance to collaborate with VA, present at the 2021 iEX Marquee Event in October, and most importantly, impact Veteran lives by forging a healthier future.
The competition resulted in 10 companies being selected to join with VHA Innovators Network (iNET) sites to further the design and develop their innovative solutions.
The event, co-hosted by the Founder Institute and VHA Innovation Ecosystem, also included an exciting keynote speaker and energizing fireside chat and panel.
Torrey Smith, CEO, Endiatx, gave an engaging look at how companies can collaborate to move their innovation forward and demonstrated his incredible technology – a camera in a pill that allows doctors to remotely explore a patient’s stomach. Dr. Ryan Vega, chief officer, Office of Healthcare Innovation and Learning, spoke candidly with Dr. Carolyn Clancy, VHA deputy under secretary for health for the Office of Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks, about how innovation and collaboration are at the core of everything VA does.
“VA has been breaking boundaries for decades,” said Dr. Clancy. “That includes our 95-year-old research program… to the Innovation Ecosystem. In the past year, this has served us well. VA was way ahead of the curve with telehealth. Breaking boundaries is clearly part of our fabric.”
Allison Amrhein, director of Operations, iNET, followed this up by leading an in-depth panel on how the VHA Innovation Ecosystem is helping VA and outside organizations co-design innovative health care solutions for tomorrow. The panel featured multiple experts, including Ryan Micheletti of Founder Institute, Gina Adams from Wareologie, Dr. Sergio Garcia Vergara of RIF Robotics, and Kathryn Beckner, innovation specialist from the Central Virginia VA Health Care System.
“Collaboration is so important to VA, because just like no patient is the same, no concept is the same. No idea would be fully formed, and no solution fully thought-out without diverse perspectives and collaboration,” said Beckner. “That leads to the best solution for the health care environment and also for the Veteran.”
Braze Mobility Inc. is developing a terrain analysis system to help wheelchair users navigate outdoor environments more safely and independently using their proprietary machine learning algorithms that identify hazards.
Lead Site: VA Palo Alto Health Care System.
Other Sites: Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital, Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center, Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System, VA Western Colorado Health Care System, and Milwaukee VA Medical Center.
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AGE-WELL nurtures startups through funding, competitions, mentorship, access to expert services and other supports, helping companies commercialize and bring their products to markets around the world.
Dr. Pooja Viswanathan, co-founder and CEO of Braze Mobility, says that as a first-time entrepreneur, it can be challenging to become established and get the word out.
“AGE-WELL was really critical in not only providing financial support but also in offering mentorship and connections, as well as visibility through their events and workshops,” she says. “Through all of these different resources, we were able to be very cost-efficient early on and actually get to market much faster than we otherwise would have.”
Dr. Viswanathan will share her experiences with growing a startup as one of more than 50 speakers at AgeTech Innovation Week, a free virtual event hosted by AGE-WELL from October 4 to 8, 2021.
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Four Canadian startups are in this year’s Google for Startups Accelerator: Women Founders program. The search giant announced that two Toronto companies, Braze Mobility and Paperstack, as well as Vancouver’s SafetyDocs Global, and Montreal’s Tengiva are among the 12 women-led startups accepted into the program this year.
“We’re also excited to share that four Canadian startups from across the country are part of this year’s cohort,” said Ashley Francisco, head of Google Canada’s startup developer ecosystem. Starting on September 27, the 10-week virtual program will bring the best of Google’s programs, products, people and technology to help these businesses reach their goals.Read More
Our CEO and Co-Founder, Dr. Pooja Viswanathan was recently on the Talk Rehab Podcast with Bill Noelting where she shared her journey of building ‘smart’ wheelchair technology, the value of user feedback, and how that influences product development.
They also chat about the Braze system and how similar innovations are great for the complex rehab technology industry.
Some key takeaways:
- Our technology prioritizes user feedback which demonstrated a preference for increase spatial awareness rather than giving up control.
- Our product is easily customizable by the end-user, family members, therapists, and ATPs.
- The average retail price is $2,000 to $2,500 USD and is coded K0108 or E1399.
- Excited to have an industry veteran, Allan Boyd part of our team as the VP of Business Development.
- Blindspot sensors are mainstream technology that is useful for every wheelchair user in order to address user needs, wheelchair design limitations, and environmental barriers.
The future of complex seating and wheeled mobility is often described in terms of evolving or breakthrough technology. But the future of Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) will also be defined and shaped by its people and its leadership. Pooja Viswanathan, Ph.D., explains how her background in academia led to her to co-found Braze Mobility, manufacturer of blind-spot wheelchair sensors, and how her vision as a young, female CEO is impacting Braze Mobility and perhaps CRT as a whole.
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What’s your name, the company you represent and where are you located?
Antoinette Brokopp OTR/L, ATP. I work for Reliable Medical Supply. Our local office is in Fort Thomas Kentucky. I work from my home office between Cincinnati and Dayton, OH.
How long have you been an ATP?
I became an ATP in 2018.
What do you enjoy most about being an ATP?
I love being an ATP because it provides me the tools to help people have comfort and mobility to be more independent, more comfortable, and live a more satisfying life. Being an Occupational Therapist blend well with this role because that’s what we’re all about.
My favorite part of being an ATP is being involved with the delivery or seeing my client after they get their equipment and seeing how life-changing my contribution to their care can be.
What benefits have you seen from your clients that use the Braze Mobility sensor system?
I have used the Braze system in a few cases. In one, I had a client who had CP (Cerebral Palsy), but then had a CVA (Cerebrovascular Accident), and became dependent on a power chair.
He was really good about driving but had no sense of what was behind his chair. He was at risk of losing his ability to drive safely, but adding a Sentina to the back of his chair was all the difference he needed.
I have seen clients have greater confidence learning to use their chairs because they didn’t have to worry about unknowingly getting too close to walls and doorways.
In other cases, clients who had been bedridden for long periods, and had to develop the attention span to learn to successfully operate a power chair benefitted greatly from the sensory input provided by the Braze system.
I love how individualized and targeted the system can be and Pooja and the Braze Mobility team are amazing to work with. It’s wonderful being able to design a system with a specific client in mind.Read More
TORONTO, ON – March 31, 2021 – The team at Braze Mobility, a company that’s created the world’s first blind spot sensors that can be added to any wheelchair transforming it into a ‘smart wheelchair’, is excited to announce that Allan Boyd, a seasoned Complex Rehab Technology (CRT) industry leader, is joining as Vice President of Business Development. Boyd will leverage his established relationships and experience within the industry to lead Braze Mobility’s business development strategy and support their mission of helping millions of wheelchair users around the world navigate boldly, independently, and safely.
Boyd brings with him over 25 years of experience in CRT. He served as the General Manager at Permobil Canada from 2010 to 2020, where he built and established the company’s presence throughout the country. Prior to Permobil, he managed Invacare Corporation’s seating division. He also worked as Director of Operations at Special Health Systems and was a partner at Motion Concepts, both of which were acquired by Invacare.
“I am thrilled to have Allan on our team,” said Pooja Viswanathan, CEO, and co-founder of Braze Mobility. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for not only his experiences and what he has accomplished in the industry, but also for his hunger to keep learning and staying abreast of the latest innovations. In fact, I met Allan because of a research-industry partnership while I was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Toronto and he was managing Permobil Canada. The timing of Allan’s onboarding could not be better as we at Braze Mobility prepare to accelerate our growth in North America and overseas.”
Since launching in 2016, Braze Mobility’s blind spot sensor systems have been transforming the lives of wheelchair users. The system mounts on any powered or manual wheelchair, automatically detecting obstacles and providing feedback to the user through intuitive lights, sounds, and vibrations. By providing alerts and leaving the user fully in control, the system maximizes user independence and freedom, while improving safety.
“I met Pooja in 2014, and have watched her create Braze Mobility from years of clinical research, and evidence,” Boyd said. “Sharing the same client-focused core values, I’m excited to be part of a team bringing this innovative technology that the majority of us take for granted in the vehicles we drive every day, to wheelchairs. I’m equally excited in what lies ahead, as Braze Mobility has many more technical innovations in development.”
Braze Mobility blind spot sensor systems are available for purchase globally starting at $1,655 US MSRP. For more information visit: www.brazemobility.com
About Braze Mobility: Based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the company was founded by Dr. Pooja Viswanathan, who has incorporated over a decade of smart wheelchair research into state-of-the-art technology that improves accessibility and independence for people with physical disabilities.
Braze Mobility is dedicated to increasing independence, safety, and overall quality of life for people living with mobility challenges. We engage with end-users throughout the design process to create accessible and innovative technologies that are affordable and easy to use.Read More
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The Innovation Challenges are designed to showcase startups at the forefront of AgeTech, with solutions that empower people to choose how they live as they age. The Challenges have included digital learning for older adults, fraud and personal security, and entertainment, among others. See below for a complete list of Challenges and descriptions.
We’re embarking on a global search for solutions that help people age in place more effectively and safely.
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In August 2020, the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI) launched a Call for Innovations for its Mentorship, Capital and Continuation (MC2) program, presented in partnership with National Bank. MC2 Market Readiness sought early-stage companies creating solutions for aging adults in the healthtech space. The program addresses critical innovation gaps, not only by providing early-stage companies with direct access to two leading global accelerators, CABHI and Berkeley SkyDeck, but also by helping companies unlock funding to achieve their specific business milestones.
More than 50 companies applied, which indicates a thriving Ontario healthtech sector invested in building solutions for aging adults. Given that the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on older adults’ lives, it is encouraging to see the scope of companies tackling these needs in-depth.
Semi-finalists were invited to pitch last autumn, and now CABHI is proud to announce the program’s six winning companies. They are currently (and virtually) participating in Berkeley SkyDeck, which offers access to the Silicon Valley ecosystem and a Pitch Showcase event, at which CABHI’s innovators may have the opportunity to pitch their solution to world-leading investors, buyers, industry leaders, and advisors. Typically, two out of every three companies that participate in this Pitch Showcase receive venture funding to scale and grow.
Read the entire article here https://www.cabhi.com/blog/meet-the-finalists-of-cabhis-2020-mc%C2%B2-market-readiness-program/Read More