2020 Winners

Innovation Factory awards $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes at the seventh annual Synapse Life Science Competition

Bisep Inc. is the competition’s big winner

Hamilton, ON – On March 25, Hamilton’s thriving life science ecosystem gathered for the first time, virtually, for Innovation Factory’s seventh annual Synapse Competition, Ontario’s premier life science pitch competition.

This years’ top three finalists, Bisep Inc., Hyivy Health and PROVA Innovations each delivered their pitch to the judging panel, competing for their share of $75,000 in cash and in-kind prizes, while the remaining finalists competed for best poster.


12 Ontario life science innovators were selected finalists and formed teams with post-secondary students, the industry’s future professionals. Together, these teams participated in three months of intensive training, where they produced commercialization plans for their ventures and prepared for the showcase.


Bisep Inc. was named the grand prize winner, taking home a prize of $35,000 in cash, $5,000 in-kind from Gowling WLG and $2,000 in-kind from BDO as well as a 1-year membership with Life Sciences Ontario as and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.


PROVA Innovations took second place receiving $17,000 in cash, $5,000 in-kind from ShiftHealth and $2,000 in-kind from Bereskin & Parr, as well as a 1-year membership with Life Sciences Ontario as and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.


Hyivy Health came in third place, receiving $5,000 in cash, $3,500 in-kind for an IP Package with Ridout & Maybee LLP, as well as a 1-year membership with Life Sciences Ontario as and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.


Paradox Immunotherapeutics won the poster prize of $3,000 cash.


Additionally, this year’s virtual showcase included the inaugural presentation of the $25,000 Praxis Prize, sponsored by Praxis Spinal Cord Institute in partnership with Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.  Three Ontario innovators working on solutions to improve health outcomes for people with spinal cord injuries were selected as finalists.  Bill Barrable, CEO of Praxis Spinal Cord Institute announced the winners:

  • NURO who won $12,500,

  • Bisep Inc, who won $7,500 and

  • Axcessiom Technologies who won $5,000.

“We are very humbled and grateful to be selected as year's winners for the Synapse Life Science pitch competition and finalists for the Praxis Award. This is an amazing investment that will bring Bisep a long way and bring the ARMM device to market. We are so grateful for all the support we have gained throughout the years from family, friends and everyone including Niagara Falls Ryerson Innovation Hub powered by Spark, We-Tech Alliance, Niagara College, Brock University, Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and the Age-Well Network.  We want to make a special mention to thank Innovation Factory, Synapse Life Science, and Praxis Spinal Cord Institute” said Danial Bordenave, Founder and CEO of Bisep Inc.


This year’s Synapse Competition judges included Guy Payette, President of Innomar Strategies; Dr. Jennifer Hamilton, Senior Director, New Ventures (Canada) for Johnson & Johnson Innovation, and John Hands, Director with Bay Area Health Trust.


Since the inaugural Synapse Life Science Pitch Competition in 2014, Innovation Factory has worked with more than 80 companies and awarded over $425,000 in cash and in-kind resources though the support of its sponsors.  The competition is delivered in collaboration with the Synapse Life Science Consortium and made possible through the support of the competition’s sponsors including Innomar Strategies and Gowling WLG.

Innovator: MOXYPATCH

MoxyPatch™ is an early stage device company working to develop a preventative, over-the-counter solution for women who suffer from Stress Urinary Incontinence. There are very few products available for the prevention of leakage caused by female stress incontinence on the market today. Moxy Patch’s research and development work on this device aims to provide women who suffer from this type of incontinence a true solution that is not only more environmentally friendly than the alternatives, but also more comfortable and economical for the patient or consumer.

Student: Soundarya Selvam - Master of Business Administration, McMaster University, 2021 - Ph.D. Philosophy (Pathology and Molecular Medicine), Queen’s University, 2018 - Science, University of Western Ontario, 201

Innovator: HELPERS

Helpers is the Uber of home care with a technology platform that helps seniors and families request home care services on demand from a trusted network of caregivers. Helpers is focused on improving the convenience and flexibility of services by allowing customers to only pay for what they need, when they need it. Today's care can be rigid, unreliable and expensive. Helpers is setting out to change that with a passionate group of professionals on a mission to provide fast, personalized and reliable home care.


Student: Rachael Gregoris - Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization, McMaster University, 2020 


Student: Erin Guilfoyle - Graduate Certificate Brain Disorders Management, Mohawk College, 2020  - Behavioral Neuroscience (minor Biology), Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2019


Paradox Immunotherapeutics is an Ontario-based pharmaceutical company developing immunotherapies for rare diseases that cause organ failure. Using a proven-successful immunotherapy drug design platform, they design drugs that harness the body’s own immune system to clear lethal deposits from affected organs and reverse organ damage. The company is founded by the same team that designed PRX004, an immunotherapy to treat heart failure caused by transthyretin (ATTR) amyloidosis. PRX004 was licensed to Prothena Biosciences Inc. (So. South Francisco, USA) by University Health Network (Toronto, Canada) and entered FDA clinical trials in 2018 (NCT#03336580). Using the same platform technology, their lead candidate includes a potential treatment for immunoglobulin light chain (AL) cardiac amyloidosis, another cause of heart failure for which no first-line therapy currently exists and a US market opportunity of ~$3.2B. Their other discovery pipelines include treatments for chronic renal failure, ALS, and frontotemporal dementia. With a team of experts in immunotherapy drug design, they possess an orphan drug discovery platform for the potential treatment of ~30 rare diseases, a platform technology which has already sparked the interest of major players in the pharmaceutical industry.

Student: Rafik El Werfalli - Masters of Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization, McMaster University, 2020


Student: Katrina Cordovado - Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization, McMaster University, 2020


At PROVA Innovations, we are passionate about developing new technologies that aid children and adults suffering from brain injuries that have caused mobility restrictions. Our dedicated team is focused on creating a suite of at-home therapeutic products that improve mobility and enhance quality of life. Our lead product is a wearable that measures the foot’s position and applies biofeedback encouraging the development and reinforcement of new neuromotor pathways and connections in the brain. Similar to how a rumble strip alerts a driver that they are veering off the road, our products provide sensory cueing in the form of small vibrations, lights and sounds to guide a patient’s foot throughout the entire gait cycle. Our technology allows patients to engage in therapy in an intuitive way outside of clinic during normal everyday activities. We are PROVA Innovations and We are Providing the Next Step.


Student: Emily Bradshaw - MBA, DeGroote School of Business, 2019 - Health Sciences, James Madison University, 2017


HyIvy Health creates high tech, modular sexual rehabilitation devices for women with pelvic diseases and cancers. After receiving a pelvic health diagnosis, women often struggle with comfortable, safe sexual experiences. HyIvy Health's first device, a modular, connected vaginal wand, allows women to improve sexual recovery after treatment with information from 8 different sensors and 5 different mechanical functions to rehabilitate themselves from the comfort of their own home, allowing for women to see their rehabilitation in real time and track their progress while following a treatment plan preprogrammed by their doctors and therapists. Once rehabilitation goals have been achieved, the device can then be switched over to pleasure based modular components.


Student: Sandy Zakaria - Ph. D. Biomedical Engineering, McMaster University, 2022 - Biological Science, University of Windsor, 2014


Student: Sarah Dipietro - Medical Radiation Sciences/Health Sciences, McMaster University/Mohawk College, 2020


Theraphage is an early-stage biotechnology startup developing a bacteriophage immunotherapy (BIT) platform for the treatment of solid tumour cancers. Through a bacteriophage display vaccine (BDV) or bacteriophage immuno-oncology system (BIOs) approach, Theraphage’s platform can be employed as a standalone option - a vaccine and immuno-oncology dual modality treatment - or in combination with current treatment options to improve their safety and/or effectiveness profile.


Student: Ramy Gabarin - Health Sciences, McMaster University, 2020


Student: Bichoy Labib - Biomedical Discovery and Commercialization, McMaster University, 2020

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