IBBME startup wins Ontario Accessibility Tech Pitch Competition

A rehabilitation technology startup co-founded by Professor Milos Popovic has been declared this year’s winner of the Ontario Centres of Excellence’s (OCE) Accessibility Tech Pitch Competition.

On May 16, Popovic’s MyndTec Inc. was selected among five finalists and 24 Ontario-based companies invited to participate in the competition as part of OCE’s Discovery conference. The team was presented with the $20,000 top prize by Reza Moridi, Ontario’s Minister of Research, Innovation and Science in the afternoon.

“We are delighted to receive this award from the Ontario Centres of Excellence,” said Popovic who is also the Toronto Rehab Chair in Spinal Cord Injury Research at the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. “OCE has been a strong supporter since the company’s formation and we would not be where we are today without their help. This is why the award means so much to MyndTec and our entire team.”

MyndTec’s first commercial product, MyndMove, uses a system of coordinated electrodes to stimulate arm muscles and replicate functional upper limb movement in patients who have suffered strokes or spinal cord injuries.

Here’s how it works in practice: a physiotherapist will tell a patient to think about executing a movement – making a fist, for example – and MyndTec’s system will stimulate the patient’s arm into action.

“Eventually those will connect and create a new pathway from an uninjured part of the brain,” said Alexa Granger, a quality assurance manager at MyndTec. “If someone’s had a stroke or spinal cord injury, and they now have paralysis or weakness in the arm and hand, they can’t do many things that we take for granted – like bathing ourselves, feeding ourselves, grooming ourselves, getting dressed. With our therapy, we can help them to gain some function back in their arms and hands.”

MyndMove is already available at 16 clinics in Canada and has been used to treat more than 120 patients who have responded well, according to Popovic. The company is now preparing to launch into the huge U.S. market.

Several U of T startups, including PhD candidate Justin Wee’s SensOR—a force-sensing surgical training tool—were also announced as winners and finalists in other competition categories.

“Congratulations to MyndTec Inc. on winning this year’s Accessibility Innovation Showcase Tech Pitch Competition, and to all of the finalists for their innovative work,” said Moridi. “These talented innovators are making a real difference for people with disabilities, and for Ontario. I look forward to seeing these homegrown companies transform the way we address the needs of people with disabilities and tap into market opportunities in our province, and beyond.”

With files from Christopher Sorensen, U of T News