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Hamilton Life Science Innovators take home nearly $60,000 in prizes at the Fourth Annual Synapse Life Science Competition 

Hamilton, ON (March 30, 2017) – On March 29, a record number of attendees from Hamilton’s life science community gathered at McMaster Innovation Park to witness the Synapse Life Science Competition final showcase.


The event showcased 10 teams, who all presented informational posters while the top three presented their innovations live on stage to a panel of industry experts, competing for nearly $60,000 in cash and professional resources. The City of Hamilton, Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Healthcare, The Bay Area Health Trust, McMaster University, and GlaxoSmithKline provided generous cash prizes totaling $34,000. In-kind prizing included intellectual property packages from our legal partners at Gowling WLG, Ridout & Maybee LLP and Sabeta IP, and a Life Sciences consulting package from Shift Health. All of our finalists also received a complimentary one year membership with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. 


The top three finalists – 20/20 OptimEyes, HiNT, and InnovoGENE – each had 20 minutes to impress the judging panel, including executives from GlaxoSmithKline Canada, Stryker Canada, Novatio Ventures and Labtician Ophthalmics Inc.


InnovoGENE won the grand prize for their revolutionary system used to detect E. coli and other pathogens in recreational water supplies. Current methods of testing water are costly and require 24-72 hours to work. InnovoGENE’s unique “ANDzyme” platform cuts testing time down to one hour, putting public health and safety first. They took home $25,000 in cash, a $5,000 IP package and the $5,000 life sciences consulting package. 


“I’m overwhelmed, the entire process has been so exciting,” says InnovoGENE Co-Founder, Dr. Kha Tram about winning the competition. “The work that we have done during the competition is so important for our business. We are excited for what the future holds.” Hamilton’s supportive ecosystem has also been instrumental for growing InnovoGENE: “Hamilton is awesome. McMaster is one of the top-ranking research universities. Innovation Factory and MILO [The McMaster Industry Liaison] have been so supportive. In Hamilton, there are so many life science companies that have helped us grow and network.” 


HiNT took second place, receiving $5,000 in cash and a $5,000 IP package from our legal partners. They have developed a wearable point-of-care device that can monitor high-risk stroke patients. “We are very happy to have won second place,” says HiNT C-Founder, Ahmed Elmeligi. “We have learned a lot about how to pitch properly. We won experience, and that will allow us to pursue future funding opportunities.”   


20/20 OptimEyes, coming in third, took home $2,500 cash and an IP package valued at $5000. Their unique, patent-pending drug-delivery system will be used in the form of eye drops for the treatment of dry eye disease. 


Era Diabetes won the poster prize of $1,500 cash. The other six poster finalists included: AceAge, Enhanced Medical Nutrition, Fidget Toys, ImagineMED Inc., Kinly, and Urinanalyze. 


While the judges deliberated following finalist presentations, keynote speaker Jim Magahey shared how the collaboration recently formed between Hamilton Health Sciences and IBM will position Hamilton as a top innovation economy. Magahey is a Senior Project Executive and is responsible for this collaboration. 


The event concluded with one of the judges, Dr. Amyn Sayani, Director, R&D Alliances, GlaxoSmithKline, announcing the winners live on stage. “The quality of presentations continues to increase,” said Dr. Sayani of all the finalists. “Innovation Factory is truly creating entrepreneurs for the future.” 


The quality of the participating companies at Synapse is a testament to the tremendous growth of the Hamilton life science ecosystem. “This competition is indicative of Hamilton’s investment in the health sciences,“ says David Carter, Executive Director, Innovation Factory. “It’s fantastic to know that our ecosystem fully supports homegrown, cutting-edge innovation.”


The Synapse Life Science final showcase is the culmination of months of hard work. Back in January, the competition teamed up life science innovators with business students from McMaster University. Together, each team produced both business and commercialization plans for their ventures. All of the finalists also participated in training sessions to help them complete the plans and fully prepare for the final showcase.

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