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.
Read the rest of the article here.Read More
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.
Read the entire article here.Read More
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.
Read more here.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
Read the full story on Hospital News:Read More
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.
Read more here.Read More
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
To mark Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, BMO Financial Group today announced the ten recipients of its $100,000 grant program. As part of its longstanding commitment to helping the advancement of women, the new grant program celebrates Canadian women business owners’ innovation and resilience during the pandemic.
To assist with the grant recipient selection process, BMO collaborated with key strategic partners to establish an advisory committee and judging panel consisting of leaders from GroYourBiz, Women Presidents’ Organization (WPO), Women Get On Board, Women Business Enterprises Canada Council (WBE Canada), Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, and Deloitte.
Each business will receive $10,000 and have the opportunity to receive ongoing support through one of the bank’s partners, including a one-year membership with a peer advisory group for women business owners and a one-year certification with Women Business Enterprise Canada.
The BMO Celebrating Women 2020 Grant Recipients are:
- Ayanna Lee Rivears, Socacize Fitness: Socacize Fitness is a creative blend of Caribbean and African dance techniques, with effective fitness movements.
- Dr. Irit Van-Ham and Dr. Monika Yazdanian, ToeFX Inc.: Founded by two scientists, ToeFX is driven by innovation with a vision to create the world’s most effective foot care treatments.
- Kim Knight and Shanelle McKenzie, The Villij: The Villij creates an inclusive, accessible, and nurturing community for women of colour to connect, heal and expand. It provides health and wellness services, including yoga, meditation, walking clubs, conversations, and workshops.
- Meghan Peters and Kristin Verbeek, Lathered Cleaning Company Inc.: Established in 2013, Lathered Cleaning uses only natural cleaning products and is dedicated to giving time back safely and effectively to other busy people.
- Pam Fanjoy, Fan/Joy: Chef Pam’s culinary passion has led her to create a line of Gourmet To Go prepared meals, the junior chef culinary and life skills programs and the youth-run café and marketplace to help improve the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of local youths and families.
- Pooja Rao, got BALLZ Inc.: With a goal to produce high quality products, made with the utmost care from locally sourced ingredients, got BALLZ re-invents snacks and foods we love with a healthy twist.
- Pooja Viswanathan, Braze Mobility Inc.: Braze Mobility has developed the world’s first blind-spot sensor system for wheelchairs, which automatically detects obstacles and provides multi-modal alerts (visual, vibration, and/or audio feedback) to the driver.
- Rebecca Taylor, Ready to go Foods Inc.: With a passion for cooking and Caribbean flavours, Ready to go Foods allows those with busy lifestyles to enjoy healthy, Caribbean flavoured meals in their own kitchen.
- Robyn Ledoux, A Touch of Health: Launched in 2009, A Touch of Health began as a simple one-woman massage therapy clinic. Since then, the business has grown to employ 10 people and has diversified to include a health food café, A Taste of Health.
- Shehreen Zaman, Math Project: Math Project offers students the opportunity to strengthen their math skills through on-site and online interactive sessions with a qualified team of tutors.
“A large part of supporting the advancement of women is celebrating the contributions made by women leaders, entrepreneurs and mentors in local communities,” said Erminia (Ernie) Johannson, Group Head, North American Personal and Business Banking, BMO Financial Group. “We’re proud to recognize these women and their ability to innovate in their businesses and persevere during this difficult time. Congratulations to this year’s honourees on all their achievements.”
Since its inception in 2012, BMO Celebrating Women has honoured more than 180 women in communities across Canada and the United States. In addition to the new grant program, BMO has developed programs and invested in solutions to support women entrepreneurs. The bank committed to making $3 billion in capital available to women-owned businesses across Canada over three years, has embedded diversity-focused procurement programs, and has created a new women’s business directory.
“These women – who have clearly demonstrated unrelenting drive and resilience throughout this last year – are essential not only to our economy, but to the future of Canada; their achievements cannot be overstated,” said Linda Blair, Managing Partner, Ontario, Deloitte Canada. “Deloitte is proud to assist BMO in recognizing the value of these entrepreneurs, to elevate their success, and to help them thrive at every step along the way.”
To learn more about the grant recipients and BMO Celebrating Women, visit bmoforwomen.com and join the social conversation using #BMOforWomen.Read More