On February 10th , members of Ontario’s neurotechnology cluster gathered together to celebrate and recognize the achievements of its members at the NeuroTech Ontario Celebration event hosted by the Ontario Brain Institute. In just three years since its initiation, NeuroTech Ontario has grown rapidly to organize and leverage Ontario’s rich and thriving capabilities in neuroscience.
A key driver of this growth has come through the support of the Government of Canada’s Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) Technology Development Program with approved funding of up to almost $11 million to support the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI)’s coordination of 14 projects involving 12 research institutes. This commitment from FedDev Ontario has attracted over $11 million in matching funds from 16 private sector partners, including five international companies. The program has catalyzed new public-private partnerships and is expected to result in significant economic development for the region including at least 10 new intellectual property disclosures, over 100 full-time equivalent jobs, and lead to a number of game-changing neurotechnologies, many of which were on display at the event.
One of the FedDev Ontario and OBI supported projects, Thriver, made a special announcement in conjunction with their official product launch. This also marked an important milestone for NeuroTech Ontario. Thriver Inc. announced new partnerships with three key channel partners, including the YMCA Academy, Beyond the Classroom, and Scholar’s Choice. Thriver is an online learning platform targeting the cognitive development of children and developed in collaboration with the Human Development Group at the University of Windsor. By hosting the event at the YMCA, the OBI and its partners wish to demonstrate how neurotechnologies that are being developed in NeuroTech Ontario can directly benefit community members and patients.
In addition to these FedDev Ontario-OBI projects, the event also recognized the contributions of the new talent of entrepreneurs co-sponsored by OBI and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). These rising stars are developing and commercializing innovative neurotechnologies—some of which were displayed at the event—to continue fuelling cluster growth. Seven entrepreneurs in 2012 and eight entrepreneurs in 2013 are building better medical imaging, surgical, diagnostics, or rehabilitation devices, new therapeutics, and innovative software for neurotechnologies.
The event also showcased two powerful tools created by OBI to maximize cluster growth: the Neuroscience Asset Map and Brain-CODE. The recently launched Asset Map is an online cluster tool with a growing database of virtually every brain-related resource in the province and will help make the connections that will lead to integrated research and help businesses identify partners and markets more effectively. Brain-CODE is a powerful data and analytics platform like no other in the world and sets apart NeuroTech Ontario from other clusters. The capabilities of this platform will inspire new research ideas and attract new companies. These two components are part of OBI’s integrated system that will help cultivate continual growth of NeuroTech Ontario and draw interest from the global life sciences community.
The Ontario Brain Institute is a provincially‐funded, not‐for‐profit research centre. It works to maximize the impact of neuroscience and establish Ontario as a world leader in brain discovery, commercialization and care.
About the authors: Ricky Chan is Senior Lead Industry Relations with the Ontario Brain Institute. Michelle Wilson is Communications Lead with the Ontario Brain Institute.