The Braze Mobility Blog

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Meet the Finalists of CABHI’s MC² Market Readiness Program

01/12/2021

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...

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BMO Announces 10 Recipients of $100,000 Grant Program for Women-Owned Businesses

11/19/2020

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...

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Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures and Techstars unveil cohort for ‘Future of Longevity’ Accelerator

09/02/2020

A group of ten startups will spend the next 13 weeks coming up with innovative caregiving solutions for aging adults. Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures and Techstars unveiled the first cohort for the new Future of Longevity Accelerator, a program that supports startups building products and services for caregivers. Companies range from device makers to software platforms. Seven of the 10 CEOs are women, and nearly half of the founders are Black or Latinx. See the full list of companies below, with descriptions from the program. Braze Mobility: Braze Mobility has developed the world’s first blind spot sensor system that can be attached to any motorized wheelchair, transforming it into a “smart” wheelchair. With Braze Mobility, users can more easily spot obstacles, helping to reduce the risks of injury and wheelchair damage and help users maintain their dignity and independence.Candoo Tech: Candoo Tech provides on-demand tech support and training specifically designed to help older adults stay safe, independent, and connected. The company provides one-off sessions, device setup, and ongoing support for members looking to use technology to connect with family members, attend telehealth appointments, and go online.Naborforce: Naborforce connects a network of community members, “Nabors,” to older adults for assistance with basic tasks...

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AMI This Week: Shortcut with Alex Smyth

08/10/2020

Alex Smyth learns about Braze Mobility, a company making blind spot detectors for wheelchair users, and chats with the CEO, Dr. Pooja Viswanathan, and a client to discover more.

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Bethel University Students, Toronto Entrepreneurs take home top honors at Destination Medical Center’s Assistive Tech Challenge Virtual Pitch Competition

06/05/2020

Braze Mobility from Toronto placed First in the Professional Division for its patent-pending blind spot sensor system that can transform a wheelchair into a ‘smart’ wheelchair that automatically detects obstacles and provides multi-modal alerts to the driver. Dr. Pooja Viswanathan, co-founder and CEO pitched the product. Other team members include Namit Sharma, Dr. Alex Mihailidis and Madeleine Rawling. “The DMC Assistive Tech Challenge was a great virtual experience,” said Viswanathan. “It was incredible to see so many companies working on assistive technologies that will impact millions of lives. Braze Mobility will be using the prize money to help accelerate development of sensor technology that will enable safe and independent wheelchair navigation.” Read the full article here: https://dmc.mn/bethel-university-students-toronto-entrepreneurs-take-home-top-honors-at-destination-medical-centers-assistive-tech-challenge-virtual-pitch-competition/

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Finalists announced in startup competition that will showcase technology-based solutions for seniors and caregivers

05/28/2020

Fifteen Canadian startups have been chosen to compete in this year’s AGE-WELL National Impact Challenge, it was announced today. Finalists will be challenged to explain how their technology-based solution can positively impact older Canadians or their caregivers. Five finalists will compete in each of three virtual events reflecting the broad spectrum of innovation that exists in Canada’s AgeTech sector. The winner at each event will receive $20,000 in cash, plus in-kind prizes. Finalists in Competition #1 (June 18 livestream): eNable AnalyticsHomeEXCEPTNovalteServUs HealthSparrow Acoustics Finalists in Competition #2 (July 9 livestream): Able InnovationsBraze MobilityNeurofitStabilo MedicalVitalTracer Finalists in Competition #3 (Sept 29 livestream, in conjunction with the BC Seniors Living Association annual conference): GTCareMatchWorkSeven MovementsTochtech TechnologiesVirtual Gym Read about the finalists here. To register to watch the first two pitch events via livestream, please visit the competition main page. Registered audience members will have a chance to win a Kobo eReader. Each event also includes a lively panel discussion on the future of AgeTech and its impact on areas such as brain health. “The need for technologies and services that benefit older Canadians and caregivers is more apparent than ever in these challenging times,” said Dr. Alex Mihailidis, Scientific Co-Director and CEO of the AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence. “This competition...

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New Technology Helps Older Canadians Age In Place At Home Safely

12/06/2019

Soon after turning 70, Marianne Buzza knew it was time to downsize. But it wasn’t about the size of the house. “I love to garden and had created a bit of a monster. We needed a smaller yard!” she says with a laugh. She and her husband, Wally, also wanted to live in the town of Wasaga Beach, ON, so they didn’t have to rely so much on driving. They found a townhouse that’s “perfect for us,” with plenty of extra space in the basement and a loft for visits from the kids and grandkids. The new home also came with two flights of stairs. While Marianne, now 75, and Wally, 86, are both mobile, they recognized that the stairs put them at greater risk for falls. “A lot of people our age have mobility, but our balance is sometimes not what it used to be. We need that extra bit of stability.” The couple found the solution in a new product called StairSteady (see below for details), manufactured in Whitby, ON. The fixed handrail uses a moveable support handle for users to grasp when going up or down stairs (see sidebar). “It goes at your pace because it’s not motorized. It...

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Wheelchair Users Enjoy New Freedom, Thanks to “Smart” Sensors from Braze Mobility

10/22/2019

Dr. Pooja Viswanathan, CEO and Co-Founder of Braze Mobility appeared as a guest speaker at AGE-WELL’s National Conference in Vancouver last year. See how she created a new technology to help power wheelchairs and scooters detect obstacles, helping older adults increase their spatial awareness and maintain their independence. Watch the video for some notable highlights. You can find out more about all the important work AGE-WELL is doing here. More experts and disruptors will be on hand at the AGE-WELL’s 5th Annual National Conference in Moncton, New Brunswick, from October 22–24, 2019. Get all the details here. Launched in 2015 through the federally-funded Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) program, AGE-WELL NCE (Aging Gracefully across Environments using Technology to Support Wellness, Engagement and Long Life NCE Inc.) is Canada’s technology and aging network. AGE-WELL is dedicated to the creation of technologies and services that benefit older adults and caregivers. Difference Maker: Hear Dr. Pooja Viswanathan of Braze Mobility Explain How Older Adults Can Maintain Independence

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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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