Penta Medical Changes the Healthcare Game with Wearable Technology, Helios

Alexa Roeper is the driving force behind an innovative medical science product called Penta Medical. She has a background in biomedical science, is an avid horseback rider, and an athlete. It was a personal injury after horseback riding that inspired her to look into alternative healing methods, which ultimately led to the creation of her company.

Alexa experienced an injury years ago that was predicted to take her months to recover. Being an active and motivated (or self proclaimed, impatient) athlete ready to jump back in, she began thinking of all the other people that must experience this frustration with limited options available to expedite the healing process. That is when Alexa began exploring ideas to help not only herself heal faster, but others as well. The result was a serious fascination with the science of infrared therapies and how to innovate and build on that existing service to offer a more convenient, fast and mobile way to help those with muscular and or skeletal injuries heal faster.

 

 

Wearable Medical Technology! How Does It Work?

As a business owner, athlete and young professional, Alexa understands how busy life can be, to the point where it can interfere with getting proper healthcare, especially after experiencing sport related injuries. Many athletes, both amateur and professional, can experience lingering effects from previous injuries, so Penta developed a wearable product called Helios.

Helios delivers infrared therapy, a widely adopted method used at physiotherapy clinics, to the areas of injury or pain. The current prototype, operates much like an adjustable armband, that can be worn directly on the injured area, which then helps accelerate patients’ recovery. Helios is a way to effortlessly treat injuries and pain management from the comfort of your home (or anywhere you find yourself in a day). It is light, mobile and therefore patients can go about their day, and while doing so, “speed healing”, on their terms and within their schedule. Alexa shares, “Our goal with this technology is to make healthcare easily accessible and mobile, like many of our lives in this digital, fast paced world.”

How Did They Do It?

Alexa and co-founder Daniel Choi have been working hard and over the last year have accomplished a great deal. Penta, which got it’s start in the Velocity Science Program has also been a part of the Fierce Founders program, has pitched and secured 250K in investments, and is a part of the Accelerator Centre’s AC Jumpstart program.

Penta’s AC Jumpstart Experience

We asked Alexa what she and her team got out of the AC Jumpstart experience and this is what she had to share,

“AC Jumpstart has been instrumental in our company’s growth. Through funding and resources we were able to build the prototype of our wearable tech, Helios with a digital app which allows for health and injury-healing tracking. I love the transparency with which the AC communicates with each of their AC Jumpstart clients. We are all a big family and know exactly what to expect of the experience.

Additionally, the mentorship has been so helpful. Each mentor truly cares about you and your company’s growth. I love how each of them have gone above and beyond to help us on our journey. We were able to secure funding, set up speaking engagements and get some valuable press including a story in the Globe and Mail, all thanks to their help and guidance. I love this program, can’t say enough about that, haha!”

Penta is currently teaming up with various sports teams and a couple clinics in the Kitchener-Waterloo region to test out the new wearable product/app Helios, track the progress and experiences multiple patients have with various injuries to continue improving and building wearable products that help to heal those on the go!

Penta’s mission is to change the future of healthcare, one wearable at a time!

AC JumpStart is made possible by and investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and is delivered in partnership with Conestoga College, Laurier, and the University of Waterloo.

AceAge Lands Strategic Agreement with Centric Health

Originally published on centrichealth.ca

Centric Health Announces Strategic Agreement for Innovative Medication Delivery Appliance

Aug 9, 2017

— Unique healthcare device transforms prescription medicine compliance and adherence —

TORONTO, Aug. 9, 2017 /CNW/ – Centric Health Corporation (“Centric Health” or “the Company”) (TSX: CHH), Canada’s leading diversified healthcare company, today announced that it has signed a strategic distribution and supply agreement and a strategic investment with AceAge Inc. (“AceAge”) for its “Karie” home-based automated drug delivery appliance.

Feel safe that your loved ones are taking their medicines correctly: Karie is an innovative technology appliance that simplifies and monitors the administration of multiple medications, improving compliance and reducing adverse drug complications. Its easy-to-load cartridge uses a multi-dose medicine package, like that produced by Centric Health. (CNW Group/Centric Health Corporation).

Designed for individuals taking multiple medications, particularly seniors living independently or without full-time care, Karie is an innovative device that makes it simple to follow complex medication regimes by automatically delivering prescription drugs, in the correct dosage and at the right time. The medication comes pre-organized in an easy-to-load cartridge and the patient’s medication schedule is also stored. Karie goes off like an alarm clock when it’s time for each dose and provides a visual and audio alert. It can also be set to automatically notify a family member or caregiver if a dose is ever missed.

“With about 70 percent of all seniors taking five or more drugs per day and improper medication compliance being a leading cause of visits to the ER and hospital admissions for seniors, Karie is an ideal solution that is completely aligned with Centric’s focus on delivering the highest levels of patient care,” said David Cutler, President and Chief Executive Officer of Centric Health. “The device is completely compatible with our automated dispensing and packaging systems and we see many opportunities for placement with seniors in our contracted retirement homes where it will improve safety and provide peace-of-mind to caregivers.” It is estimated that up to 10% of all hospital admissions are due to adverse drug reactions.

A personal solution that will benefit many
A family member of AceAge’s CEO, Spencer Waugh, was the inspiration behind Karie’s creation. After watching them be admitted to a hospital eight times in one year because they could not keep their drugs organized, Spencer sought a better solution to ensure that medication could be more easily managed. Karie incorporates both ease of use and advanced monitoring and connectivity. It uses a simple, single-load action cartridge and delivers medication with the push of just one button. It also incorporates facial recognition which ensures the safety of the user and protects others, network connectivity using TELUS’ cellular IoT network and is Bluetooth-enabled to connect to other health monitoring devices. Click here to see a video demonstration of Karie. Expected pricing will be an initial cost of $150 and $60 per month thereafter.

The appliance is in its second phase of testing in a clinical trial at the University of Toronto; AceAge is beginning production with delivery expected in spring 2018. In addition to serving the needs of seniors, Karie is an effective solution for anyone managing multiple medications and for clinical researchers conducting drug trials.

“It’s incredibly exciting to see something that we’ve been working on for so long become a reality,” said Spencer Waugh, CEO of AceAge “As we are scaling up to build and deploy thousands of devices, we see Karie as the central fixture of the connected health home.”

Terms of the agreement
Centric Health has signed a strategic distribution and supply agreement with AceAge for the device in Canada and has made a strategic investment. The cash investment of $2 million will be made in two tranches, in exchange for a 20 percent ownership interest and subscription of 20 percent of AceAge’s common shares on a fully diluted basis. Centric will have the option to acquire an additional 10 percent at a predetermined premium to its initial investment. David Cutler will have a seat on AceAge’s Board of Directors for the period that Centric remains a shareholder.

“As one of the largest providers of pharmacy services to seniors in Canada, Centric was a natural partner to work with as we launch Karie in markets across the country and internationally,” added Mr. Waugh. “With Centric we will be able to have a positive impact on many seniors, helping them to live healthy, independent lives.”

About Centric Health
Centric Health’s vision is to be Canada’s most respected and recognized provider in the independent healthcare sectors in which it operates, world renowned for delivering the highest levels of quality care and outcomes, innovative solutions and value to patients, clients and stakeholders. To this end, Centric Health primarily focuses on two core healthcare businesses:

The Specialty Pharmacy division is a “Patient First” model composed of a growing national network of fulfilment centres that deliver high-volume solutions for the cost effective supply of chronic medication and other specialty clinical care services, serving more than 29,000 residents in over 425 seniors communities (long term care facilities, retirement homes and assisted living facilities) nationally. The Specialty Pharmacy division also provides pharmaceutical dispensing services for employees insured by corporate health plans.

The Surgical & Medical Centres division is Canada’s largest independent surgical provider operating five facilities across four provinces. It serves a diversified customer base with private paid non-insured surgeries and diagnostics, government outsourcing of insured surgeries and diagnostics and other procedures funded by third-party payors (including Workers Compensation) and is the proud owner of Canada’s first Centre of Excellence in Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery.
With national networks of facilities in each of its businesses, deep knowledge and experience of healthcare delivery and extensive, trusted relationships with payers, physicians, and government agencies, the Company is uniquely positioned to address current and future healthcare needs in growing markets as the Canadian healthcare industry goes through a major transformation over the medium to long term. www.centrichealth.ca

About AceAge – www.aceage.com
AceAge Inc. is a healthcare technology company, creating beautiful and intuitive products to ease the aging process. Launching in spring 2018, Karie will be AceAge’s first commercially available product, making medication management as simple as possible. Outfitted with a front facing camera, and Bluetooth connectivity, AceAge plans for Karie to become the central fixture of the connected health home. For more information and to register for updates on Karie please visit www.kariehealth.com.

SOURCE Centric Health Corporation

For further information: David Cutler, Chief Executive Officer, Centric Health Corporation, 416-619-9401, david.cutler@centrichealth.ca; Craig MacPhail, Investor Relations, NATIONAL Equicom, 416-586-1938, cmacphail@national.ca; Spencer Waugh, Chief Executive Officer, AceAge Inc., 289-400-0811, spencer@aceage.com

O2 Canada Helps BC Fire Fighters and Residents Breathe Safely Again

No doubt, you’ve heard about the current wild fire crisis in British Columbia. With an estimated 150 fires currently burning across the province and over 14,000 residents being evacuated, its a national news story that has touched lives across the county.  When Waterloo startup, O2 Canada, heard about the hundreds of rescuers and fire fighters risking their lives and thousands of residents suffering, they hopped on a flight to deliver 250 of their air filtration masks to those who needed them most.

Although the product was not scheduled to be released until August 26th, co-founders Peter Whitby and Rich Szasz knew that the fires would result in poor air quality and their innovative technology could help those left in the wake of the tragedy. Coordinating with the Canadian Red Cross, O2 Canada rushed their first run of masks to BC – before they even had time to complete the packaging. “We knew we could make a difference, but we needed to get masks out there ASAP,” Peter recalls. “The packaging wasn’t done yet so we simply packaged them in zipper bags with a few extra filters so we could get them out there quickly.”

Due to the smoke and debris, the air quality in areas surrounding the fires is poor. The haze makes it difficult to breathe, particularity for those with asthma or other health problems. The technology in O2 Canada’s mask uses an electrostatic filter to remove the pollution so the wearer can breath the air without suffering the ill effects. “We created this company to help people. We really wanted to focus on getting masks to those who need it most. When we decided to go, we didn’t really know what that would look like, but we knew we had to be there.” Peter says.

The company is documenting their trip to BC and sharing it on Facebook with the hopes to get their message out to as many people in the province as possible. In their third episode in the series, they share their visits with helicopter pilots, firefighters, and everyday people who have seen the effects the poor air quality has on their health. One woman, cried as she shared her story. “I’m low income. I can’t afford to get a respirator, and I don’t have the resources to have my medical {insurance} cover something like that. My kids go to daycare right across the way and I have to walk them to daycare everyday. Just going across the street and back, I am having asthma attacks,” she says.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Rich says. “Meeting those kids who have to walk to school in all that pollution. When that little girl goes outside, she just coughs. It breaks my heart.”

What’s next for O2 Canada

After they return to Waterloo, their work is not done. In addition to preparing for their planned global launch, O2 has used their trip to identify the next milestone on their roadmap.  “We need to get back to work,” Rich says. ‘We need to make a kids mask and get them shipped out here.”

O2 Canada is a resident startup at Accelerator Centre’s Advanced Manufacturing and Hardware Innovation Lab in Kitchener Ontario.

 

Chillwall Launches Events Discovery Platform Worldwide to Reconnect the Digitally Isolated

Michael Campanelli, co-founder and visionary behind Chillwall, the “world’s event network” was inspired to create a platform that encourages people, specifically, millennials to reconnect in real space, effortlessly.

Millennials are the most connected generation, however, research reveals that they are paradoxically the most isolated. All those connections, friends and likes online are great, but we are still experiencing disconnect and are not as fulfilled without meaningful, face-to-face socialization and connection. Michael believes that technology can be used to bring us back to each other, and Chillwall was created to do just that,

“Technology, as powerful and wonderful as it is, has also isolated many people. We want to see the power of technology used to bring people back together. So we built a tool that will aid in an effortless connection in the real world. We view ourselves as the social butler, helping users discover local events near them they never new to search for in two clicks or less, anywhere in the world.”

How does Chillwall work?

Chillwall is a personal Machine Learning Discovery network that enables individuals to search for local events based on interests, type and location. The platform is powered by an advanced learning recommendation algorithm which learns what a user’s specific preferences are over time and starts to recommend events for them wherever they are searching from in the world. All activity and searches are private to each user unless, for example, they decide to invite a friend to go to an event or share what event they plan to attend. Users can share those interests with friends, calendar it and find their way to the event using GPS — all in two clicks.

Michael explains, “today’s online society craves simplicity and our mentality is less is more, so we have made the user interface and experience simple and easy to use, in two clicks or less.”
It is perfect for young working professionals who want to meet people, those who just moved to a new city, travelers, and the list goes on!

Michael and the Chillwall team received the AC JumpStart grant this year, and with the help of funding and mentorship, Chillwall was able to advance from a beta program with 2000+ cities to choose from, to a full, global launch which happened just last week (July 2017).

Michael explained how the funding, mentorship, validation and growth that came out of the AC Jumpstart Program allowed the team to build out the platform. The team is thrilled to see young people get a lot of value out of it, and the feedback inspires them to keep making it better and better.

“We want to bring people back together, and make it easy for anyone, anywhere, to connect and know there are always interesting, meaningful things for them to do, with old and new friends.”

After the launch last week, Michael and the team are excited to move forward with expanding the platform with new features, guest bloggers and much more! The platform is currently available on web and IOS. https://chillwall.com/

ACJumpStart is made possible by and investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and is delivered in partnership with Conestoga College, Laurier, and the University of Waterloo.

A Startup’s Journey: One-on-One with Ruth Casselman from Alert Labs

As you come up the stairs of 44 Gaukel Street to the Accelerator Centre’s Advanced Manufacturing and Hardware Innovation Lab and head down the main hall to the back of the building, you’ll find the office of Alert Labs. Now utilizing two suites for office space and another room for testing, they are one of the fastest growing companies in the Accelerator Program and are on track to becoming one of the next big tech companies in the Waterloo Region.

The Product

Alert Labs builds cellular based sensors that help protect homeowners and businesses from water damage by sending them alerts about leaks, floods, and abnormal water use. They also track use by the minute to help customers conserve water and save money. Their Flowie water sensor straps on to existing water meters and analyzes water use, highlights costs and compares consumption versus averages. It also sends alerts via email, text or an app about running left running, temperature, humidity and power outages. Their Floodie companion sensor can installed anywhere in a home where water could cause damage. It sends instant flood alerts when it comes in to contact with water.

They are selling their devices to a variety of different groups, including homeowners, landlords, property managers, restoration companies, insurance companies and municipalities. Alert Labs has partnered with the City of Guelph to offer residents an instant rebate on a Flowie water sensor kit, as part of the city’s water efficiency strategy. They recently announced that Intact Ventures, a division of Intact Financial Corporation, is a strategic investor in the company.

 

How they got started

In early 2015, founders Ruth Casselman, George, Tsintzouras, and Kevin Wright found themselves ready to begin their own venture. “The timing just came along…it was the right time for us to go out on our own,” Ruth recalls. The trio came to the table with more than 30 years of experience working in high technology. Ruth had just recently left BlackBerry, and Kevin and George had come from Christie Digital.

They considered a number of ideas, but they kept coming back to home utilities monitoring. All three founders are property managers and water usage was something that they all struggled with. On one occasion, a renter called George while he was travelling in China to tell him that a leak had turned into a full-blown flood. They looked for tools they could use to try and prevent this but what was available was complicated to install and was simply too expensive to warrant doing at their properties. That’s when they decided to create their own solution and Alert Labs was born.

Once they decided it was time to move out of their home office, they found the Accelerator Program. For Alert Labs, there were a number of reasons to join the program, but at the core of their decision was the mentorship. “We are very lucky to live in a community where there’s a lot of support for [starting a tech company],” Ruth says.

“Access to experienced business professionals who could guide us and advise us can take weeks and weeks out of a process.”

In additional to the mentorship and resources available through the Accelerator Program, Alert Labs also received the AC JumpStart grant that provided them with $30,000 in seed capital and an additional $10,000 in mentorship. “The $30,000 we received felt like all the money in the world… it allowed us to do what we needed to do.”

Alert Labs began working out of the ACs Reactor facility, but it quickly became clear that there were challenges with building their hardware company in the space. “The Reactor space is a very lovely finished office space with carpets and desks that they don’t like burn holes in from soldering irons… the AC folks realized that maybe that space wasn’t ideal for us or for hardware companies.” As the plans for Alert Labs’ devices started becoming real physical products, they needed a space where they would be able to do the “messy” work required.

This situation was confirmation for the Accelerator Centre there was a need for a space and specialized resources for hardware and IoT companies. Working in partnership with the City of Kitchener and ArtsBuild Ontario, the AC opened the Advanced Manufacturing and Hardware Innovation Lab with Alert Labs at its first tenant.

“The space at Gaukel was absolutely what we needed. We love being in downtown Kitchener, there is a great tech vibe down here. Specifically, this space has the mix between Arts and Tech, which is something that when you’re really immersed in the technology world, you sometimes forget that there’s other folks with different focuses and having that mix right here in our building is a very vibrant and motivating environment.”

The Future

Now, after more than a year of working out of the space, Alert Labs has hit some major milestones. They have grown to a team of 18 with plans to grow to 25 before the end of the year. They have brought two products to market with more coming in the next six months. “We try to recognize all of the milestones, even if they’re small because as a startup, a lot of things are very hard. The first time we sent out a large shipment as a team, that was a big deal and we had champagne that day.”

Alert Labs launched its first devices in February and now has Flowie and Floodie sensors deployed across Canada and the US and they are on track to become one of the AC’s grads and will join the likes of Miovision, Ecopia, KiK, and Clearpath Robotics on the Grad wall at ACHQ.

“When we started as a tiny little company of three people two and a half years ago, we looked at that wall in the Accelerator Centre and we looked at all the logos up there and thought ‘someday we could be on that wall’ and it really seemed like an imaginary thing. Having the recognition by an organization like the Accelerator Centre that’s saying you’ve done a good job is like the gold star.”

For more information on Alert Labs, check out their website at alertlabs.com or message them at hello@alertlabs.com. If you’re interested in learning more about the Accelerator Centre’s Advanced Manufacturing and Hardware Innovation Lab or want information on the joining AC contact info@acceleratorcentre.com

ACORN Cryotech Take Their Dream to JLABS with the Help of AC JumpStart

ACORN Cryotech co-founder, Steven ten Holder, spent his childhood as a self described introvert. As a teen, he found himself deeply interested in the literature and research of the great bio-scientists of our time and was fascinated with the science behind human life and how we die. His early interests inspired him to start ACORN Cryotech and dedicate his life to studying and creating new ways to preserve, sustain, and help improve human life.

ACORN, an at home cryopreservation service, is the first of its kind. The service has created an easy, non-invasive kit to help people freeze and preserve their young, healthy cells, which can then be utilized in life and healthspan extending technologies.

Gene therapies, organ regeneration, and stem-cell technology are predicted to completely change the future of healthcare and the ACORN team is proud to be leading the way in both the development of those technologies and the future of a cell-based, health conscious society.

So why cryotech?

As a genetic engineering student at the University of Waterloo, Steven knew the value of cell preservation and wanted to figure out the best methods for doing so. Much the way blood banks store and preserve blood cell donations by freezing them before transfusions, Steven had the idea of testing this preservation method with other cell samples such as urine, cheek, and hair cells. He was excited to test his theory of preserving other cells at different temperatures and for different periods of time, however, he wasn’t able to complete the project with the resources he had access to but he knew this was an experiment he wanted to try going forward. Eventually, Steven was able to get his hands on the right equipment to test cryopreservation (a cell freezing process typically −80 °C using solid carbon dioxide or −196 °C using liquid nitrogen). This allowed him the ability to discover that other types of cells can in fact be frozen, preserved, and utilized for health research and other life extending technologies that are under development and resulted in to the development of ACORN and his dedication to the genetic cryopreservation of human cells to improve and extend human life.

 

Today, ACORN Cryotech resides at Velocity and has secured funding and support from investors and science partners as well as from  YC Fellowship, Communitech, Creative Destruction Lab. In 2016, ACORN also received a $30,000 grant and $10,000 in mentorship through AC JumpStart.

In addition to the funding, Steven was blown away by the value of the mentorship:

“As a science-based company, I went into those mentorship meetings open-minded, but not really understanding how marketing could help us as we developed prototypes and did our research – but I admit, it changed everything. Learning about sales and marketing and how to reframe our approach helped us to source materials, equipment, build our prototype, reach out to folks, get investors  and continue to elevate our entire business. The mentors have experience and are willing to work with your specific business to unveil how they can best guide and help us. It has been such a pleasure working with them, and we are grateful.”

After completing the AC JumpStart program the Acorn team were able to build a prototype, get a group of beta-testers, secured valuable investments, and are bringing on new staff, making  them a team of five. They are now preparing for a move to Toronto to work out of the Johnson & Johnson Innovation space called JLABS.

Although they are headed to Toronto, one thing is clear, their hearts will always be in the Waterloo tech ecosystem “Without this region and programs like AC JumpStart,” Steven reflects “my dream wouldn’t have happened, and our company would not be where it is today – simple as that.”

Stay tuned for more on Acorn as they prepare for the product launch in 2018.

AC JumpStart is made possible by and investment from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and is delivered in partnership with Conestoga College,  Laurier, and the University of Waterloo.

Big Science Out Of A Small Lab

Originally published in the Record
KITCHENER — In the lab at Rapid Novor, a molecular scientist lays bare the microscopic-building blocks of antibodies that are increasingly used in the fight against cancer, diagnostics and new medicines.

Rapid Novor, a startup that went through the Accelerator Centre in the David Johnston Research and Technology Park, is now based at 44 Gaukel St. in downtown Kitchener. Specializing in what’s called protein sequencing, the six-member team is among a small, but growing, number of biotech startups in the region.

The human body produces antibodies to fight diseases and infections. Antibodies are made of protein. And protein is made of amino-acids — the building blocks of human life.

There about 20 common types of amino acids. Rapid Novor has combined its software with the latest in laboratory equipment and, after investing a million dollars to open the lab, it can quickly determine which amino acids make up an antibody. Just as importantly, it discovers the order, or sequence, of those amino acids, which are long, chain-shaped molecules.

That information is used to make drugs, diagnose diseases and treat cancer, said Zac McDonald, a molecular scientist and biochemist at Rapid Novor.

“That’s why the interest in it is so high because there is a lot of potential for using antibodies in cancer treatment,” said McDonald.

The antibodies can direct drugs to the right targets or block certain pathways associated with cancer.

“It is a huge, multibillion market,” said McDonald, who emigrated from South Africa in April to join the startup in downtown Kitchener.

The lab where McDonald works is the first of its kind in this region, and among the few anywhere that has the equipment for what is called next-generation-protein sequencing.

Traditionally, that would take up to two months to do Rapid Novor can do in one week. It is because of the latest equipment in mass spectrometry lab coupled with the algorithm developed by one of the startup’s co-founders — Dr. Bah Ma, the president and chief scientist at Rapid Novor. Ma is also a professor at the University of Waterloo.
Gene sequencing is not new. Using a sample of saliva, there are companies that sequence the genes in your DNA to see what diseases or conditions you are likely to develop during your lifetime, or where your ancestors are from. That’s called genomics.

Protein molecules are made up of long chains of amino acids. Identifying the different parts of that chain, and the correct order of those parts, is called proteomics. Rapid Novor has the first proteomics-grade lab in this region.

It April 2015 Ma, a professor at the Cheriton School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo, was ready to commercialize his algorithms that automated a key part of this scientific field. The sophisticated machines analyze the protein samples, identifying the amino acids and producing huge amounts of information.

In the past it would take a scientist up to two months to sort all of that information. Ma’s algorithm does that automatically and quickly. Rapid Novor can have results for clients, which include big and small pharmaceutical companies, in three weeks. For a special fee it can be done in as little as one week.

In the past year, it has completed the protein sequence for 120 antibodies.

Mingjie Xie, a co-founder and chief executive officer, said there are tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of pieces that make up a protein sequence. The antibody samples that arrive in the lab are in a solution and, at 200 micrograms, are invisible.

After adding enzymes, shaking, spinning and heating a sample, the antibody is broken into its different parts, and ready for analysis in a mass spectrometer machine. That information, coupled with the startup’s algorithms, puts this small lab at the cutting edge.

“This technology is fairly new,” said Xie. “To be able to use it in commercial settings, this is very new service.”

Meet Charles Chung, CEO and Founder, Brisk Synergies

Originally Published in WATCH  – a publication of the David Johnston R+T Park

WATCH: How did your startup journey begin?

CHARLES: Brisk Synergies isn’t my first startup. My first was a tough learning experience. I think it’s important to do a first startup because it primes your brain, it makes you realize a lot which is a big help. One thing I’ve found over my time as an entrepreneur is that there’s a lot of value in working with a partner. This time with Brisk Synergies I have a partner in Montreal and an office there, so I go back and forth a lot. Having a co-founder to bounce ideas off of makes it easier to make calculated decisions instead of going with your gut feeling. I think in that aspect it’s really important.

WATCH: CAQWhere did the idea for Brisk Synergies come from?

CHARLES: My co-founder is a professor at McGill. We were friends years ago and finally met up again, just a few years ago for a beer. He began telling me about his research which focuses on traffic. He’s using data analytics to reduce congestion, save lives, reduce accidents — I thought it was fascinating. Just a very exciting space to be in. He was equally fascinated by my background, which is focused on technology commercialization. That’s how we got started.

WATCH: Two skills sets that found each other?

CHARLES: Yes, and we were able to build on a pretty long friendship too. I think that helps a lot because you have to fall back on that along the journey. You bring together different perspectives and it’s nice to have more than just business to fall back on — it’s important. To some degree, being co-founders is like a marriage.

WATCH: What is life like in the R+T park for a startup?

CHARLES: My company is based out of the Accelerator Centre in the R+T Park and it’s a really good place for tapping into the startup ecosystem. Our company will grow from here. Entrepreneurship is a really lonely journey. Having connections and the peers who are growing up together is really helpful. You feel like you’re not the only crazy guy. Being part of the AC provides a lot of reassurance.

WATCH: What drew you to the Accelerator Centre to found your startup?

CHARLES: My first startup was on the West Coast. I’m from Singapore and have lived all over. I primarily chose Waterloo because of my family, my wife. However, the AC right is definitely a place to be to tap into our area’s startup ecosystem. I feel that there’s a common team among all the peers.

WATCH: Waterloo offers a lot for startups, but are there still areas for improvement?

CHARLES: From working in different ecosystems I’ve found that Waterloo Region, in general, has a lot of experience to offer. There are a lot of companies that are doing some cool shit here. However, I see an opportunity for improvement in the way that sharing happens. I would like to see us doing a better job at connecting startups with established, proven business leaders. There’s a lot of experience to be shared. I feel that it could be a better integrated where there is an ecosystem where the communication is open. I feel that as an individual company you really need to go hunt and look but the networking is not as natural. Companies need to remember where they came from.

WATCH: Brisk is focused on smart cities technology, providing intelligence to improve transportation systems. That work has presented you with the opportunity to work with other AC graduates – can you update us?

CHARLES: Yes, we are closely working with Miovision, one of the AC’s first grads. Together we are building technology to visualize cities and their transportation networks. We want to understand how traffic is moving across cities to assist with urban planning and to help cities monitor traffic pattern changes and understand where there are different issues on the road. This partnership has resulted in quite a number of deployments across numerous cities, mostly thanks to Miovision’s existing network of contacts, so we have a good level of data coming in from various cities to help us with the development of the solution. Hopefully, in the coming months, we will be able to package up the solution and launch it with beta users to obtain real feedback. So the project is on track.

WATCH: What’s next for Brisk Synergies?

CHARLES: A lot. We are busy rolling out new technologies and new solutions. We are always looking for new ways to help cities understand vulnerabilities on the road. Our message is resonating really well with the whole concept of Smart Cities. There is a lot of interest among municipalities in new infrastructures, cameras, and to being able to look at how traffic is moving and the associated risks. Cities around the world are embracing technology for this purpose. For instance, Sweden has introduced Vision Zero, a concept which focuses on reducing death on the roads and dangerous collisions. The whole industry is going through major disruption right now. Everywhere practitioners and cities are opening themselves up and looking beyond just road construction. They are realizing there’s to solving the traffic problems we face than simply fixing the road constantly. They want to figure out what information we can get from the roads. I think it’s an exciting time to be in the transportation technology space.

Media Release: The Accelerator Centre Relaunches Startup Visa Program

Waterloo (Ontario), CANADA, July 17, 2017

The Accelerator Centre (AC) is pleased to announce the relaunch of its Startup Visa Program. As an approved business incubator for Canada’s premier international entrepreneur recruitment program, the AC has become one of a select group of certified technology incubators who can endorse foreign entrepreneurs and help them establish their businesses in Canada.

Canada’s Startup Visa Program, which is the first of its kind worldwide, was originally launched in 2014 and was relaunched in April of 2017 with the government’s renewed focus on attracting international talent through the Global Skills Strategy and building Canada’s reputation as a leader in technology and innovation. The program provides permanent residency to innovative startup entrepreneurs who want to build companies in Canada that can create new jobs, spur economic growth and compete on a global scale.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship knows no geographic boundaries,” says Paul Salvini, CEO of the Accelerator Centre.  “The Accelerator Centre is recognized worldwide for its programming and mentorship. As a certified member of Canada’s Startup Visa Program, we can leverage our world class programming to help more entrepreneurs develop businesses that inspire global leadership.”

Entrepreneurs that are accepted into the Startup Visa Program through the AC will locate their businesses within one of the accelerator’s four locations in the Toronto Waterloo Corridor and will participate in the AC’s world renowned Accelerator Program to ensure they have the best chance at sustaining global success.

Applications for the Accelerator Centre Startup Visa Program open July 17, 2017.

Learn more about Start-up Visa Program, visit our website.

About the Accelerator Centre

The Accelerator Centre® (AC) is dedicated to building and commercializing technology start-ups. The AC provides an essential combination of mentorship, educational programming, professional office space, networking, and access to funding, with a goal of building successful companies. Over a two year period, we help entrepreneurs move from startup to scale, accelerate their time to market, and attract customers, investment, and revenue.

Since 2006, the Accelerator Centre has developed and nurtured over 200 early-stage technology start-ups, creating 2100+ new jobs, and generating more than $550 million in revenue. The 55 companies have graduated from the Accelerator Program represent some of the biggest named in the Canadian technology ecosystem.

For further information, please contact:
Tabatha Laverty
Community Manager
Accelerator Centre
tlaverty@acceleratorcentre.com

 

SSIMWAVE Focuses on Viewer Experience and Delivers a New Gold Standard in Video Monitoring and Optimization for Broadcasters

We’ve all tried to watch our favourite movie, TV series, or live event and become frustrated by the video or sound quality, the placement of ads, or the loading speed. For viewers, the experience is annoying, disappointing, and probably results in them giving up and moving on to another source of video, but, for broadcasters, studios, and video delivery services, it could mean lost revenue.

That’s where SSIMWAVE comes in. For the first time in history, the company provides the media and entertainment industry with a solution based on real-time viewer intelligence to deliver the ultimate viewer experience – from the camera to the screen. The technology starts with the most accurate and complete video quality measure ever built. By accurately modeling and measuring human viewers’ quality-of-experience (QoE), video broadcasters can take full advantage of digital efficiencies to architect encoding and stream optimization to meet or exceed consumer expectations.

SSIMWAVE’s end-to-end products are in market with leading broadcasters, production studios, and telecom companies and they are delivering real results. SSIMWAVE software allows these companies to utilize viewer intelligence data to accurately predict viewer experience and create a consistent and common reference point for video quality – something the industry has never seen before. That means companies can eliminate the trial and error process when it comes to testing infrastructure and delivery methods and can ensure a consistent viewer experience regardless of what device or platform the video is being delivered on.  The result is that viewers get the best possible experience and broadcasters can create efficiencies and make guarantees to content producers and consumers on the quality of the viewer experience for any screen anywhere.

The company, founded by University of Waterloo professor Zhou Wang and PhDs Abdul Rehman and Kai Zeng, is the result of 25 years of research and development. Impressively, the technology is built on SSIMPLUS, the next generation algorithm based on Professor Wang’s breakthrough structural similarity (SSIM) algorithm that won an Engineering Emmy Award last year for its impact to the TV industry over the last decade and which has resulted in almost 40,000 academic citations – far more than any other work in the space.

In 2013, the University of Waterloo provided the SSIMWAVE team with funding to get their project off the ground. That injection of capital helped them build the product. Once they were ready to begin selling into the market Gary Brock, Director of Strategic Initiatives, introduced the SSIMWAVE team to the Accelerator Centre (AC).

In 2015, they joined the Accelerator Program and immediately began utilizing the mentorship available to them. “Both Kevin Hood and Kevin Elop were very helpful to us, ” CEO and Co-founder Abdul Rehman recalls. “When we started, we were engineers. We had no business experience. Working with the mentors gave us the confidence to grow our business knowing that whatever challenges we ran into, someone at the AC would be there to help us put the pieces of the puzzle together. They gave us the confidence to be successful.”

In June of this year, SSIMWAVE relocated to a new office space to accommodate their rapidly growing staff, including the addition of an experienced executive team including Dianne Mercer for sales, Saj Jamal for marketing and Steve McCartney as President to oversee business development, operations and strategic growth. The AC’s flexible programming means that even though they are no longer located at the AC facility, they can continue to utilize the mentorship until they graduate from the program. “One of our biggest priorities now is building our team up to be ready to grow and scale rapidly,” Abdul says. “Now, the mentors can advise not only our founding team, but our new staff members as well to help them excel in their own roles.”

Over the next few years, SSIMWAVE is expected to continue to grow rapidly and become the international, gold standard for measuring video quality. “We look forward to seeing SSIMWAVE in the credits of every movie or TV series made,” Abdul says. “We’re actively putting the pieces in place and we are ready.”

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