Healthbound competition incubates new ideas on combating mental illness and addiction

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By: Uhanthaen Ravilojan

The Biomedical Zone, Ryerson University’s health technology start-up incubator, will be holding its third-annual Healthbound competition starting on Dec. 13th.

The Healthbound competition invites budding medical and health technology companies to tackle the challenges hospitals and clinicians are facing today. In previous years, competing for start-ups work on ways to improve the patient experience while in care and reduce the risk of patients contracting infections while being treated in a hospital environment.

This year’s competition focuses on improving access to care for those suffering from mental health and addiction. Healthbound is partnering with Shoppers Drug Mart, this partnership means an increase in funding which allows them to work on a larger scale and provide more resources to those competing.

Applications opened on Oct. 21, 2019, and will close on Dec. 13.

The Biomedical Zone is a hospital embedded incubator built on a partnership between St. Michael’s Hospital and Ryerson. The clinical setting allows health-tech start-ups to work in unison with the physicians who would be applying their products in the field.

Companies received feedback on their products and gained a hands-on understanding of how their products would benefit hospitals. The technology created by Verto, a previous Healthbound participant, whose product automated administrative tasks can be found in several Canadian hospitals. The Biomedical Zone currently has incubated 37 start-ups, created over a hundred start-up jobs, and impacted over 60,000 patients. 

“We believe innovative ideas will be required to make a meaningful impact and we’re excited to work with Ryerson, St. Michael’s and the Biomedical Zone on this start-up challenge,” said Theresa Firestone, senior VP of health and wellness of Shoppers Drug Mart in a press release.

The competition consists of four stages: a written application, a video pitch, an in-person interview, and a presentation before a panel of judges on Feb. 13, 2020. Successful teams are awarded automatic admission into the Biomedical Zone for four months, along with $35,000 in funding to first place winner and $15,000 to the runner-up.

“We look forward to working with start-ups from across Canada to showcase innovative and practical technology-driven solutions supporting patients’ mental health,” said Dr Linda Maxwell, executive director of the Biomedical Zone.

“This is a timely and important challenge, providing the healthcare community, patients, and caregivers with fresh new ideas, and start-ups with the opportunity to collaborate with leading healthcare organizations to affect real change.” 

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