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Canada is among the top five countries in the world in neuroscience research, and Ontario is a leader in Canada, with a number of world-recognized strengths. There are more than 800 neuroscience researchers in Ontario, with nearly 500 in Toronto alone -- one of the highest concentrations of neuroscience researchers in North America. The province is also home to 130 brain-related companies and 100 organizations involved in neuroscience.
The growing connectivity within the Ontario neuroscience community is paving the way for future advances in brain research
– Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, President and Scientific Director of the Ontario Brain Institute
The Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) acts as a catalyst; providing strategic direction for Ontario brain research and bringing together multi-disciplinary, patient-centred research teams. Among OBI's many initiatives are its Integrated Discovery Programs and the Entrepreneurs Program.
Through its Integrated Discovery Programs, OBI is bringing together scientists, clinicians, industry representatives and advocacy groups around the common goal of improving brain health. The programs include:
My research lab is not only at Queen's University, it is all over Ontario
– Dr. Doug Munoz, Canada Research Chair in Neuroscience, Director of the Centre for Neuroscience Studies at Queen's University
The purpose of OBI's Integrated Discovery Programs is to transform discoveries into new diagnostics, treatments and improved clinical practice and economic development opportunities.
Ontario Brain Institute is also working to grow the region's neurotech cluster by attracting and supporting start-up companies and entrepreneurs developing brain-related technologies. The institute also engages other funders and innovation hubs to provide a cohesive platform for companies to grow in Ontario. One of the strategies to support commercialization is through the OBI Entrepreneurs Program, which awards funding of $50,000, mentorship, training, and a number of value-add opportunities to fuel the entrepreneurial spirit in commercializing neurotechnologies. To date, 28 entrepreneurs have benefited from the program.
Jack Lee's MDDT is part of OBI's 2013 Entrepreneurs Program cohort. MDDT improves the accessibility of treatment for tremors, including for those with Parkinson's. OBI's investment has helped advance MDDT's technology to the next stage and the company has now partnered with Allergan Canada on a clinical trial.
True Phantom Solutions' Adrian Wydra was a participant in the 2014 OBI Entrepreneurs Program and received support to develop phantom brains and skulls for brain imaging research. On the recent Ontario trade mission to Israel, True Phantom Solutions signed a five-year agreement with Israel-based Microtech Medical Technologies Ltd. to develop the first-ever thoracic phantom.
Ron Gonzalez is a 2014 OBI entrepreneur who received funding to help launch Avertus -- a company researching algorithms for seizure detection to improve the treatment for patients with epilepsy. They have developed a headset that can effectively detect epileptic seizures, a condition that affects nearly 90,000 Ontarians. Gonzalez is also working on initiating a clinical trial in Canada.
The Integrated Discovery Programs and Entrepreneurs Program are two examples of how OBI is connecting Ontario's neuroscience strengths in order to support brain research and innovation in the province.
Learn more about the Ontario Brain Institute
June 1, 2016
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All figures are in Canadian dollars unless otherwise noted. Information is accurate at the time of publication.