Despite all the challenges of this past year, Canada’s tech sector continues to do what it does best: innovate. MaRS recently added several new companies to its Growth Services portfolio, and these ventures offer a snapshot of the ground-breaking work underway in Canada.
“From developing less invasive diagnostic tools to building insurance platforms that save small businesses time and money, these ventures are creating effective solutions to real-world problems,” says Rene Azeez, director of engagement of Growth Services at MaRS. “The reality is that the past year has heightened the urgency for innovations that will power the technology-fuelled economy of the future while tackling some of the most important economic, social and environmental challenges we face. We’re excited to work with these companies and to play a role in their future success.”
Here’s a look at some of the latest innovators to join MaRS.
What it does: This Toronto-based venture is developing a medical device that will help clinicians conduct minimally-invasive biopsies and provide skin cancer diagnoses within seconds. By using a laser and mass spectrometer, the device will cause less tissue damage than a typical biopsy, while its integrated software speeds up the diagnosis process by using biomarker data. “By offering on-the-spot melanoma detection, this device has the potential to revolutionize skin biopsies,” says Sheryl Thingvold, a senior advisor at MaRS.
The impact it’s having: Point Surgical has established proof of principle and is now working on its first prototype. This device has the potential to remove the common risks associated with a biopsy procedure, including risk of infection, pain and scaring. The simplified procedure will also save time and resources usually required for biopsies, including surgeon and diagnostic laboratory time.
What it does: DiagnoseAtHome brings virtual healthcare to people in the comfort of their own homes. The platform provides patients with access to in-home diagnostic testing kits, which are then processed by licensed laboratory partners. And any necessary follow-up consultations with medical professionals are then coordinated.
The impact it’s having: For people who may not be able to physically travel to a clinic or specialist, this end-to-end solution provides a safe and timely way for them to receive the care they need.
What it does: Pliteq re-engineers scrap polymers to create sustainable acoustic, vibration and impact-control products. For instance, Pliteq’s GenieClip, made of rubber and galvanized steel, reduces the transmission of airborne and impact sound when installed between drywall and a wall, floor or ceiling. “Pliteq pushes all the right buttons,” says MaRS senior advisor Harvey Coleman. “It recycles waste tires and other items to create products for the construction industry that are better than the alternative. It’s keeping waste out of landfills, while also creating a growing number of jobs.”
The impact it’s having: Each year, Pliteq recycles the equivalent of 5 million tires at their near-zero waste production facilities. Its expanding product line is bringing more sustainable and efficient solutions to the market for builders to use in large construction projects globally.
What it does: This Victoria-based venture optimizes water treatment processes for manufacturers and municipalities as well as desalination plants, saving them money and reducing their environmental impact. Its products use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to identify how clients can optimize their plant’s performance. “Water treatment and distribution typically uses up to 40 percent of a municipality’s energy consumption. With its proprietary AI analysis, Pani Energy is able to help plant operators save up to 20 percent of the energy used, materially reducing both costs and greenhouse-gas emissions,” says MaRS Senior Advisor Rick VanSant.
The impact it’s having: Pani Energy’s vision is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable water supply, by making wastewater treatment and desalination more energy efficient.
What it does: Foxquilt’s digital platform simplifies the process of accessing commercial insurance solutions. Using machine learning underwriting technology, the platform provides insurance solutions to its customers at a fraction of the time it would take from traditional providers.
The impact it’s having: Businesses can also integrate Foxquilt’s insurance products into their own product offerings, enabling them a simplified way to sell insurance on their own products.
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