We promised more fun!  Hear from last year's winner, more polls, and sign up for our keynote speaker's presentation! 

The Synapse Competition 2019 winner has an exciting update!

Epineuron Technologies is a device company developing tomorrow’s gold standard of care for injured peripheral nerves. As a nerve care company we are developing a suit of surgical solutions for repairing and treating peripheral nerve injuries with the mission of becoming the world leader in bioelectrical nerve care. Our lead product, a temporary wearable device, will be the world’s first commercial bioelectronic therapy used to supercharge injured nerves and accelerate their regeneration.


How do you build a successful health IT company? I’m still learning.

Andrea Palmer is the Founder and CEO of Awake Labs.

 In this talk, Andrea shares her commercialization journey from a university entrepreneurship course to product-market fit: balancing impact and economics, finding the signal through the noise, and making decisions with imperfect and incomplete information.


Andrea Palmer

Founder & CEO, Awake Labs

Andrea Palmer is the Founder and CEO of Awake Labs, a digital health platform working to empower people with intellectual and developmental disabilities live healthier and more independently. Awake Labs works in the areas of care coordination, mental health, and personalized care.

Andrea spends her time at the intersection of big data, wearables, and AI to solve healthcare challenges for the most underserved communities. This includes incorporating social determinants of health and human-centred design to transform how individuals manage their own outcomes.

Andrea has a background in engineering and business from UBC, where she led a team to design and build autonomous soccer-playing robots, leading them to competitions around the world.  In 2015, she completed the Global Solutions Program at Singularity University where she focused on leveraging AI to democratize healthcare globally.


Andrea serves on the Board of Life Sciences Ontario and on the Canadian Federal Economic Strategy Table for Health and Biosciences.


Fun Facts from 7 Years of the Competition

Since 2014, the Synapse Competition has supported  80 companies.  Through the generosity of our partners, we have awarded over $425,000 in cash and in-kind resources.




Guy Payette

President, Innomar Strategies

In 2001, Guy Payette had a vision of changing the specialty pharmaceutical marketplace and he created Innomar—Innovative Market Access. Today, Guy is the president of Innomar Strategies, HealthForward and Cameron Stewart Life Science and an expert in Canadian specialty pharmaceutical commercialization.

Guy leads the team of over 2,000 associates focused on delivering customized commercialization solutions to pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device manufacturers. Before starting Innomar, Guy spent 12 years in sales, market access, marketing, and government relations roles.

With 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Guy’s insight on emerging issues in the Canadian healthcare environment provide guidance for policy makers and other industry stakeholders.



Dr. Jennifer Hamilton

Senior Director, New Ventures, Johnson & Johnson Innovation (Canada)

Jennifer Hamilton is the cross-sector innovation lead for Johnson & Johnson in Canada.  She has additionally worked with the J&J Global Community Impact team on a new initiative to test Impact Investing in global health where she is seeking healthcare investments worldwide that have social impact and financial return enabling scaling of technology and services in ultra-low resource settings. 
Prior to working with J&J, Jennifer spent 17 years in biotech venture capital at Nomura Phase4 Ventures and Rothschild Asset Management. Jennifer has an MSc and a PhD in Experimental Pathology/Lipid Metabolism from the University of British Columbia and a BSc from the University of Guelph.



John R. Hands

Director, Bay Area Health Trust

John Hands is an executive with two decades of building businesses across multiple health care sectors, including services, OTC consumer, medical devices and pharma. John has broad experience and a record of success in publicly and privately-held SME and large multinational organizations both in North America and internationally.

John leads the business development office at Bay Area Health Trust, a Hamilton-based company that is an example of a successful partnership between public health care and the for-profit private sector. Leveraging its unique affiliation with its beneficiaries and as a founding member of the Synapse Life Science Consortium, Bay Area Health Trust operates and invests in growth oriented businesses to support health care and the life sciences.

Previously, John served as Executive Vice President at Covalon Technologies Ltd., a Canadian based medical device company engaged in the business of developing, licensing, and selling medical technologies.

John has served in senior sales and marketing roles at Johnson & Johnson including an International Development Program secondment in Shanghai, China. 



A special ‘thank you’ to all those who have helped to make the Synapse Competition possible. Thank you: Adi Treasurywala, Alex Muggah, Andrea Johnson, Andrea Palmer, Andrew Yoshioka, Bernard Lim, Bill Barrable, Bruce Inwood, Carey Lee, Carmen Carrasquilla, Fred Rego, Gay Yuyitung, Glen Crossley, Guy Payette, Ing Goping, Jamie Barron, Jay Carter, Jennifer Crane, Jennifer Hamilton, John Hands, Laura Beesley, Leigh Wilson, Nancy McKenzie, Navneet Kaur, Padraic Foley, Pamela Berg, Raza Zaheer, Sue Elliott, Sunita Asrani, Tom Turchet, The Forge, The Synapse Consortium, and the entire team at Innovation Factory.