Alberta-based Entrepreneurs to Compete for Grand Prizes in the 2016 TEC VenturePrize Business Plan Competition
Edmonton, AB – March 31, 2016 – Business incubator TEC Edmonton announces the finalists for the 2016 TEC VenturePrize business plan competition in the Fast Growth and DynaLIFE Dx Health streams. The finalists include some of the most promising entrepreneurs from Alberta each with an innovative, new technology contending for grand prize packages to help grow their business.
The Fast Growth Finalists are:
Dakota Supplies Inc. (www.dakotasupplies.com) Dakota Supplies Inc. looks to become a leading provider of disposable and sanitizing cleaning products for the commercial transportation industry. Dakota’s patented cleaning product MOPPITT™ is an all-in-one cleaning unit specifically designed to meet the cleaning and sanitizing challenges of commercial transportation including airlines and buses. MOPPITT’s convenience and effectiveness compared to traditional mops and other cleaning products allows staff to provide enhanced customer service while generating cost savings to the company and improving employee working conditions.
Fitset (www.fitset.ca) Fitset is a website offering access to fitness classes at hundreds of local fitness studios for a single membership of $99 per month. Fitset members have the ability to try a new workout every day, or take up to 4 classes per month at each partner studio – a unique option for an active lifestyle without traditional gym or studio contracts. Created at the University of Alberta, Fitset brings hundreds of fun and challenging workout experiences together in one convenient spot online.
Localintel (www.localintel.co) Founded in 2015, Localintel is developing an online technology designed to help small companies across Alberta find the right location for their business. Scheduled to release mid-2016, this Calgary-based startup uses high quality data, powerful mapping tools and valuable insights, to make it significantly easier for business owners to make informed decisions about where they locate.
The DynaLIFE Dx Health Finalists are:
MagnetTx Oncology Solutions (www.magnettx.com)
MagnetTx Oncology Solutions is commercializing ground-breaking technology in cancer radiotherapy (RT). In an international first, researchers at Alberta Health Services and the University of Alberta have combined the use of a linear accelerator (Linac) for cancer radiotherapy with real-time and concurrent magnetic resonance (MR) imaging. MagnetTx’s new Linac-MR device, the Aurora-RT, tracks the movement of tumours and organs while radiotherapy is taking place. The combined knowledge enables radiation oncologists to zero in more precisely on the tumour itself even as it shifts around, reducing unneeded radiation and thus improving cancer treatment outcomes.
Running Injury Clinic Inc. (www.runninginjuryclinic.com)
The Running Injury Clinic Inc. (RIC) is creating sophisticated data-gathering-and-analysis tools for clinicians to access for treating ambulatory (walking and running) injuries. Algorithms created from data gathered by instruments such as infra-red cameras, LiDAR cameras and accelerometers can create scientific and clinically relevant ambulatory health, performance, and injury information. Through the maintenance of health and mobility, by helping patients to return to activity sooner, RIC helps improve quality of life while reducing the societal economic cost from musculoskeletal injury.
SolAeroMed is a Calgary-based biotech company focused on treating respiratory diseases through the development of innovative drugs and delivery devices. Patients suffering from conditions including Asthma, Cystic Fibrosis, Acute Lung Injury or Sleep Apnea will benefit from SolAeroMed’s four products that are currently in development, including their lead product, a drug that delivers faster and sustained results following an asthma attack. Their delivery device is portable, easy to use and can pair with SolAeroMed’s products or other aerosolized drugs.
Winners will be announced at the annual VenturePrize Awards Celebration on April 21, 2016, at the Westin Hotel Edmonton. In addition, winners of the TELUS Information & Communications Technology (ICT), Alberta Innovates Student competition, Edmonton Journal People’s Choice award and Screener’s Award of Merit will also be announced during the celebration. This prestigious event brings together leaders from the business, innovation and research communities of Alberta.
“VenturePrize has been showcasing the next generation of Alberta’s rising entrepreneurs for the past 14 years, and we’re especially excited to have DynaLIFE Dx join us this year to help introduce new players in the healthcare industry,” said Chris Lumb, CEO of TEC Edmonton. “VenturePrize is more than just the awards – it’s a program that has provided top quality business training and mentorship from some of the most successful industry experts for over a decade.”
Success, he would suggest, does not happen overnight.
In Exciton Technologies case, the silver wound-care dressing manufacturer based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, success has been some 10 years in the making.
The long-time TEC Edmonton client and TEC Centre tenant has inked a pivotal expansion of its license agreement with the United Kingdom’s fastest-growing wound care company, Crawford Healthcare Ltd.
Thanks to “a dramatic market response to the use of Exciton’s patented technology,” Crawford will now distribute and market a range of Exciton products globally. Commenting on the deal, Crawford’s Healthcare CEO, Richard Anderson said, “We now have an unrivalled antimicrobial platform to tackle the issue of secondary infections faced by clinicians the world over.”
Precht had long challenged the wound-care industry to take a closer look at silver for the treatment of serious wounds such as burns and chronic ulcers, but, until recently, he’d been a voice in the wilderness. Exciton uses its patented Silver Oxyalts as the base for its wound-care products. But sales have steadily grown, and with the Crawford partnership, says Precht, “our next generation of wound-care products can become the standard of care.”
As a long-time business advisory service to Exciton, not to mention its landlord at the TEC Centre in Edmonton, TEC Edmonton is tickled pink to see Exciton land such a promising distribution deal.
“We measure our success by how well our clients are doing. Exciton has always been one of our success stories,” said TEC Edmonto CEO Chris Lumb. “Their people exemplify the best qualities of Edmonton-based innovation and entrepreneurship. We’re excited to support their continued growth as they prepare to expand their manufacturing facilities.”
Imagine a program that gives you 50 cents to the dollar to hire a smart, talented and driven graduate student to grow your business.
With the support of a Government of Alberta grant, the University of Alberta’s Graduate Student Internship Program (GSIP) provides employers up to $8,000 in matching funding to hire graduate students on flexible work terms designed to meet the demands of the workplace. It provides an opportunity for students enrolled in Masters and PhD programs to grow their confidence and hone their professional skills such as communication, creativity and critical thinking. The program gives employers a unique opportunity to participate in and benefit from the development of some of Alberta’s best and brightest talent.
To find out if your position would qualify for this funding, please contact Andrea Spevak, GSIP Advisor, at 780-492-1869 or email: email@example.com.
Medical imaging based on positron emission tomography (PET) is a key element of modern patient care in oncology. PET requires the administration of a radionuclide-containing imaging agent to the patient. Such imaging agents are prepared in the radiopharmacies of medical imaging centres from reagent kits that are used in combination with automated synthetic units.
Recently, researchers of the Department of Oncology, University of Alberta, have developed an improved radiopharmaceutical process for the preparation of the PET tracer 18F-FAZA, which will extend the utility of PET to other diseases and medical conditions. This tracer is now a step closer to broad adoption in clinical practice thanks to an agreement that TEC Edmonton negotiated between the University of Alberta and Trasis SA, a leading developer of equipment and kits for the preparation of radiopharmaceuticals.
Through years of research and development encompassing validation in clinical trials, 18F-FAZA is shown to be the PET tracer of choice for the diagnosis and staging of hypoxic solid tumors in a variety of cancers such as Stage II/III lung, head & neck, as well as cervix cancer.
Furthermore this tracer could find application in other indications demonstrating hypoxia such as chronic head injury/concussion, myocardial infarction, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatic disorders and diabetes (hypoxia = a pathological condition in which the body or a region of the body is deprived of an adequate oxygen supply).
Recent patented improvements in the preparation process of 18F-FAZA have increased commercial viability and improved production safety. Researchers in the Department of Oncology of the University of Alberta, Canada, and Belgium-based Trasis SA are now collaborating to bring this process and the kits for 18F-FAZA manufacture to the market.
Market introduction will offer:
drug developers a new tool to validate drug effectiveness for indications involving tissue hypoxia (solid tumors, Alzheimer’s, arthritis)
the radiopharmacists and nuclear medicine researchers with a commercially viable and controlled manufacturing process for clinical trials
clinicians and patients more accurate methods for diagnosis in these indications
As a productive meeting with TEC Edmonton’s CEO Chris Lumb, Vice President of Technology Management Jayant Kumar and Director of Strategic Partnerships Chris Diaper drew to a close, Israel’s ambassador to Canada made a cheerful observation.
“My title should not be ‘ambassador,’” chuckled Rafael Barak. “I would be better described as match-maker.”
From L to R: Israeli Ambassador Rafael Barak, Graham Hicks (Communications Consultant), Chris Lumb (CEO), Jayant Kumar (Vice President, Technology Management), Chris Diaper (Director, Strategic Partnerships)
Israel is considered to be a world hub of advanced technology. Ambassador Barak’s visit to TEC Edmonton on March 9, 2016, following up on Jayant’s visit to Israel with 15 other Canadian university technology transfer specialists, was an illustration by example of why Israel has become such an important player in IT, space, cyber-security and numerous other international business sectors.
In Alberta on a tour with other ambassadors to Canada, Barak, on his own initiative, made a side-trip to TEC Edmonton.
“Following Mr. Kumar’s visit to Israel last December,” he said, “it’s my pleasure to return the favour and meet, first-hand, the people that make TEC Edmonton such a dynamic business accelerator.”
Ambassador Barak learning from LoginRadius CEO Rakesh Soni about their social login and user registration web platform.
Exciton CEO Rod Precht describes their silver-based wound care products.
Delta Genomics CEO explains their biobanking, genotyping and sequencing services for the livestock industry and research community.
Barak was not at TEC Edmonton to smile for the cameras. As the Israeli ambassador, he was establishing a beach-head, the beginnings of business/research relationships and partnerships between TEC Edmonton, the province of Alberta and Israel.
The dialogue between the ambassador and CEO Lumb was focused on putting the foundation in place – initially through government to government, and agency to agency discussions – for Israeli business incubators, research scientists, and entrepreneurs to meet and interact with TEC Edmonton’s network of innovative Alberta companies.
The Israeli model of incubating start-up companies and commercializing university research is a world leader. “Israel has nearly 60 years of experience in university-based tech transfer,” says ambassador Barak. “Every year these companies generate a total of over $1.5 billion in royalties with about 150 new technologies being licensed each year.”
As TEC Edmonton is also working on the international stage – assisting innovative Alberta companies develop business opportunities internationally – the Israelis are world-acknowledged experts at growing international relations for their entrepreneurs.
“We are a small country with a small population, living in a charged political atmosphere,” said Barak. “We’ve been assisting our entrepreneurs for 45 years. We take the risk, but in the end the successful companies generate revenue, taxes and give Israelis the opportunity to work and have careers in Israel.”
All journeys begin with first steps. That the Israeli ambassador carved time out of his Alberta visit to dialogue with TEC Edmonton’s leadership, to start the process of introducing Alberta companies through TEC Edmonton to opportunities with Israel and Israeli companies, speaks volumes about Israel’s understanding of growing its global business and research relationships at every level, to both the benefit of its own and its partners’ successful economic growth.
“I am confident,” said ambassador Barak, “that the bridges we are building between Alberta, especially TEC Edmonton, and the State of Israel will foster mutual opportunities for job creation and economic growth.”
From L to R: Chris Diaper (Director, Strategic Partnerships), Chris Lumb CEO), Ambassador Rafael Barak, Jayant Kumar (Vice President, Technology Management)
The legendary stories in Edmonton’s medical research circles are about the ones that got away.
The breast cancer vaccine drug Biomira, Isotechnika’s anti-rejection drug, BioMS Medical’s promising cure for multiple sclerosis: All were products of the fertile minds of University of Alberta medical researchers. All came close to the brass ring. As publicly traded companies, billions of dollars were raised and billions lost.
But none passed the toughest test of all – those last major tests on human beings required by regulators to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the new drugs did what they are supposed to do without adverse side-effects. Promising drugs that didn’t pass their clinical trials litter the road to success. The winners are far and few between.
Meanwhile, there was a little engine here in Edmonton that could.
Medical research company KMT Hepatech just celebrated its fifteenth anniversary by moving off University of Alberta property into its own facility in the Edmonton Research Park.
While the general public is captivated by the high-risk/high-reward nature of the drug research game – especially when shares could be bought – KMT Hepatech quietly went about its business, offering a made-in-Edmonton solution to a previously intractable medical research problem.
Economic development, in the 21st Century, often turns to “knowledge-based” new industry or industrial improvements. KMT Hepatech was founded on new knowledge. KMT Hepatech’s revenue stream depends on new knowledge coming from that original new knowledge.
Fifteen years ago, two well-known University of Alberta medical researchers, liver transplant specialist Dr. Norman Kneteman and virologist Dr. Lorne Tyrrell, teamed up with then PhD candidate David Mercer. Through genetics and transplant techniques, the team were the first in the world to create mice with “humanized” livers for research purposes.
It doesn’t sound earth-shaking, not like a new drug that could prevent cancer.
But these were the only laboratory animals in the world, other than chimpanzees, on which human liver diseases could be studied, on which potential cures could be tested and refined, making the treatments safe enough and reliable enough to finally be tested in human beings.
For its first 15 years, KMT Hepatech had a captive market. The KMT Mouse was the only animal model on which cures for Hepatitis C could be studied. Researchers came from around the world to either the Edmonton based company or to an associated Japanese bio-research company that had licensed KMT Hepatech’s technology. The modified mice are medically fragile and do not travel well.
The privately held KMT Hepatech is not a big company. But it has consistently earned income, employed PhDs, paid shareholder dividends, and paid back research funding. It may not have earned millions of windfall dollars for investors, but it did not reduce millions of investor dollars to nothing. Slow and steady has won this particular race.
Dr. Norman Kneteman and Dr. Lorne Tyrrell holding KMT’s 2012 ASTECH Foundation Award.
Its scientific and commercial achievements have been recognized. KMT Hepatech was named the 2011 Company of the Year by BioAlberta and was named the 2012 ASTECH Foundation winner for Outstanding Commercial Achievement in Alberta Science & Technology.
TEC Edmonton has long worked with KMT Hepatech as a business adviser, especially during the company’s start and currently as KMT Hepatech plans for the future.
Today, KMT Hepatech is at a crossroad. Thanks to research done on the KMT mouse, drugs that cure Hepatitis C are now on the market. “We were too successful,” chuckles Dr. Kneteman, President and CEO of KMT Hepatech. “We worked ourselves out of a job!”
There’s other research uses for the KMT mouse and its humanized liver, such as finding a cure for Hepatitis B. Dr. Tyrrell originally formulated a treatment that suppresses Hepatitis B. But the disease will return in over 300 million people if the treatment is stopped.
Another big, medical-research market is the study of drugs under development and their possible ill-effects on the human liver … or the KMT mouse’s humanized liver.
“If the KMT mouse can determine toxicity before the millions of dollars needed for human trials,” says Dr. Kneteman, “we’ll have a market.”
But other competing animal models have now been developed for liver toxicity studies by other companies and research groups.
“It would change our business model,” Dr. Kneteman says. “We are not experts in toxicity, so we’d need to partner up with research companies with toxicity expertise.
“KMT Hepatech would have to produce thousands more modified mice than we do at present. However, we know that we are more cost-efficient than our competitors at producing the actual test animals.”
There you go. A classic business conundrum. Change, transform and grow. Or die.
TEC Edmonton is honoured to be assisting KMT Hepatech in taking on the market research needed to determine its future direction.
KMT management team (from L to R): Dr. Norman Kneteman, President and CEO — Kaz Fortuna, Vice-President, Operations — Verity Olson, Animal Production and Operations Manager — Dr. Garry Lund, Director, Project Management — Dr. Svetlana Sapelnikova, Director, Marketing and Business Development
If, or, more likely, when Dr. David Mitlin’s patented, bio-derived carbon nanosheets become a basic building block for the next generation of energy storage, the University of Alberta will have minor bragging rights.
Dr. Mitlin was a professor and leading researcher in the Department of Chemical & Materials Engineering at the University of Alberta for 10 years. Here in Edmonton, his team developed his carbon nanosheets (graphene) made from waste material like hemp, peanut and egg shells.
Graphene is a super-material, a two-dimensional atomic-scale honey-comb lattice that excites both the scientific and business worlds due to its extraordinary properties and potential applications in the semiconductor industry.
But producing graphene at this point is a most expensive proposition. Made from waste materials, Dr. Mitlin’s graphene is a promising, inexpensive way to manufacture large quantities of carbon nanosheets with the added bonus of being environmentally sound.
Dr. Mitlin worked closely with TEC Edmonton’s Technology Management division to initiate patent protection of the process. The researcher and TEC Edmonton (which acts as the technology management agent for the University of Alberta) decided to seek potential licensees, rather than form a spin-off company.
In the meantime, Dr. Mitlin left the U of A in 2014 to be a professor and General Electric Chair in Oil and Gas Systems at Clarkson University in Potsdam, in the state of New York, USA. He remains an Adjunct Professor here at the University of Alberta.
This new, inexpensive method of producing graphene has attracted much attention from industry. “The current cost of making graphene is about $30 a gram,” says Dr. Mitlin. “We can make it for much, much less.”
In collaboration with Dr. Mitlin, Florida-based CQuest Partners recently secured the license to Mitlin’s graphene portfolio from the University of Alberta. It’s one of the most valuable licensing deals that TEC Edmonton has done.
With Dr. Mitlin as Chief Technology Officer, CQuest is partnering with a university to create a carbon nanosheet research and development centre and to actually manufacture the waste-derived carbon nanosheets in nearby Potsdam, New York.
The commercial applications for CQuest’s organic carbon nanosheets are enormous, CQuest Partners President Gary Carboneau says, with energy storage increasingly crucial to industry.
Certainly Dr. Mitlin is optimistic. “We have a creative research group. We know what’s out there in the agricultural world as feedstock to create bio-energy storage materials. Stay tuned!”
TEC Edmonton, as Edmonton’s leading high-tech business accelerator, believes front-line experience is the best attribute its business advisors can bring to startup and ramp-up business clients.
The accelerator delivers its business advisory services through its Executive-In-Residence program. Experienced business people and serial entrepreneurs are sought out to provide those services.
TEC Edmonton encourages the Executives-In-Residence to look for and take advantage of business opportunities in the Edmonton region. If, after a few years, an Executive-In-Residence leaves TEC Edmonton to join a client company’s executive team, such departures are considered to be wins, tangible economic development gains for our region.
As such comings and goings are encouraged, TEC Edmonton naturally sees much personnel turn-over.
Say goodbye to …
Kevin Ens: Medical products specialist and Executive-in-Residence Kevin Ens has departed from TEC Edmonton to become CEO of TEC Edmonton client Tevosol.
The University of Alberta spin-off company, led scientifically by University of Alberta researcher and University Hospital transplant surgeon Dr. Darren Freed, is developing a device to transport transplantable organs that could overcome many transplant challenges.
“We’re all excited about the opportunity,” says CEO Ens. “We have closed of our first tranche of seed funding. The prototype is being further developed. Clinical trials are being planned.”
Aggie Mikulski: As a TEC Edmonton Executive-In-Residence, Aggie Mikulski was, through TEC Edmonton, interim president of Alberta life-science association BioAlberta. That assignment complete, Aggie has moved on to be healthcare affairs manager with pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim Canada.
Ric Williams: Marketing guru Ric Williams has moved on from TEC Edmonton to join ZGM Collaborative Marketing as the company’s Managing Director, Edmonton.
Say hello to …
Marty Bince: TEC Edmonton Executive-In-Residence Marty Bince is stationed in Fort McMurray, Alberta. He is providing coaching, mentoring, industry connections and business plan feedback and connections to funding for entrepreneurs taking part in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo business accelerator program. In addition to running his own companies in the past, Marty served as Vice-President International with Edmonton-based software company Willowglen Systems.
Adrian Banica: After 10 years as founder and CEO of Synodon Remote Sensing – an aerial pipeline surveillance company using its own propriety technology, serial entrepreneur Adrian Banica is moving on to become a TEC Edmonton Executive-In-Residence specializing in energy and clean technology. “I look forward to giving back through TEC Edmonton, to be more engaged in the innovation community and to leverage my own experience.” Banica says. “There are so many interesting companies to work with. TEC Edmonton is making a huge impact.”
Jake Burlet: Jake Burlet’s career has taken him all over the world. Since graduating with an MBA from the University of Waterloo, the former veterinarian has founded or participated in 10 different start-up companies, beginning in agribusiness, then branching out into different areas. Today, Edmonton-based Burlet is a senior advisor to four different companies and holds executive positions in two. As a graduate of the University of Toronto’s Rothman School of Business Institute of Corporate Directors, he sits on five different corporate boards.
Burlet will be a health and agri-business Entrepreneur-In-Residence for TEC, as well as continuing to be CEO of bio-tech company and TEC Centre client Canbiocin Ltd.
Colin Coros: Former TEC Edmonton Business Associate Colin Coros has come full circle, leaving TEC Edmonton five years ago to guide TEC Edmonton client and TEC Centre tenant Delta Genomics from a project to a full-fledged livestock genomics company. With the experience gained from guiding Delta Genomics, Coros has re-joined TEC Edmonton as an Executive-In-Residence specializing in health and agricultural companies.
Stephanie Gillis-Paulgaard: TEC Edmonton welcomes Stephanie Gillis-Paulgaard to its executive team as Director of Communications and Marketing. Stephanie has over 17 years of collective experience leading corporate communications and investor relations functions. She served as communications director for Edmonton technology companies including Isotechnika Inc. and Exciton Technologies Inc. (a longtime TEC Edmonton client and TEC Centre tenant), as well as Sofina Foods Inc., one of Canada’s largest food manufacturers. Her diverse communications background makes her a valuable addition to the TEC Edmonton team.
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