YORKbiotech launches innovation competition for healthcare entrepreneurs

Do you have an invention with applications for the healthcare industry? Not sure how to develop a business plan or access investors or partners?

YORKbiotech is calling for scientists and innovators at York University to participate in the sanofi pasteur Healthcare and Biotechnology Venture Challenge. Professors, post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, technicians, healthcare providers and independent entrepreneurs with an original product or service idea for the healthcare industry are invited to register for the competition by Sept. 20, 2007. Eligible participants may come from any Ontario university, college or hospital.

Eligible areas include healthcare IT, diagnostics, therapeutics, medical devices, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence and nutraceuticals. Ideas that involve buy-outs, expansions of existing companies or technology that is already partnered or licensed to industry are ineligible.

Successful registrants will be matched with MBA students from York’s Schulich School of Business to work with them on developing a commercialization plan. Teams will attend commercialization overviews co-taught by Schulich faculty and industry executives, and will receive mentoring throughout the process.

The top three finalists will present a summary of their plan to a panel of executive judges at the third annual Convergent Medical Technologies (CMT2007) conference on Nov. 8. They will also attend a networking cocktail reception at the event with over 100 conference attendees from industry, academia, hospitals, financial institutions and government organizations.

Perks and prizes

The competition’s top prizes include $7,500 for the first-place team and $5,000 for the second-place team. The finalists will receive a free three-hour legal consulting session with Gowlings LLP and free entry to CMT2007, and the winner’s profile will also be published in the YORKbiotech newsletter. Five scientists who register before the early-bird deadline of Aug. 17 will also receive free conference passes.

Rob Foldes, executive director of YORKbiotech, stresses that all participants stand to gain from the experience. “We designed the competition to help scientists assess the commercial feasibility of their inventions for patent applications and licensing opportunities,” says Foldes. “Business proposals written for the competition could be used as a basis for applying for future funding and granting competitions, such as CIHR, NSERC, other proof of principle funding opportunities and other entrepreneurial business plan competitions.”

The contest is also intended to give entrepreneurial business students the chance to work with inventors in real-world business scenarios. “CMT2007 will provide the teams with great industry exposure and networking opportunities,” Foldes says. “We’re excited to be encouraging collaboration between the scientific and business communities while fostering entrepreneurial spirit.”

Additional contest details are available on the YORKbiotech Web site.

YORKbiotech is a growing cluster of public- and private-sector members that promotes convergence and commercialization of research and development in information & communications technologies (ICT) and biomedical technologies. Its members include biotechnology-related companies from Toronto through York Region to Simcoe County, along with service providers, industry associations, research and educational institutions, municipalities, hospitals and government. It is one of 11 active clusters in Ontario’s Regional Innovation Network Program, which supports partnerships among business, institutions and local governments to promote innovation. York University is a founding member of YORKbiotech.