What do you get when you match an inventor with a business student? Among many things, you get a commercialization plan for a new product or discovery that could have the potential to transform health care.
That was the case in this year’s sanofi pasteur Healthcare & Biotechnology Venture Challenge competition, which matched students enrolled in the MBA Program in York’s Schulich School of Business with inventors of viable health-care inventions in a project to devise market strategies and goals for the commercialization of new products. Mentors from industry were on hand to offer teams advice and guidance. Each team consisted of two students working with product inventors and a mentor for a chance to win more than $17,000 in prizes.
Above: From left, Gavin Zealey (contest judge), scientist Arjen Bogaards and MBA students Dilip Chary and Saif Mohamed
The project, which started last fall, saw teams work with the inventors to learn about the product and then create a commercialization plan in time for a deadline of Nov. 29, 2009.
The final stage of the competition saw the three shortlisted teams pitch their invention commercialization plans to a panel of judges in a session that resembled an episode from “Dragons’ Den”, the popular CBC Television venture-capitalist show. Industry experts Gavin Zealey, executive director of corporate development for sanofi pasteur Ltd.; Borys Chabursky, founder and president of SHI Consulting Inc.; and Janet Lambert, president & CEO with Lambert BioConsulting, served as the competition’s judges.
The winners of the 2009 sanofi pasteur Healthcare & Biotechnology Venture Challenge are:
Sono Pharmaceuticals Inc., which placed first for its venture involving photodynamic therapy and sonodynamic therapy to produce an immune-therapeutic response to treat certain cancers. The team was made up of scientific entrepreneur Arjen Bogaards and MBA students Dr. Dilip Chary (who is also a family practitioner) and Saifuddin Tajuddin Mohamed. The team was awarded $7,500 and a business advisory package provided by MaRS Business Services valued at $2,500.
Above: From left, Schulich Professor Amin Mawani, MBA students Aravind Petlu and Nilotpala Jena, and scientist Herman Lo
The second place award of $5,000 went to ViewsIQ Inc. for its real-time slide-scanning system for digital pathology. The product, named EyesIQ, is a diagnostic tool for scanning, storing and retracing pathologists’ image data. The team included scientist Herman Lo and MBA students Aravind Petlu and Nilotpala Jena.
The team awarded third place and a cash prize of $2,500 was J. Strupat Technologies Ltd. for a portable pandemic ventilator life-critical system that provides mechanical assistance to individuals who are unable to breathe properly due to infection or physical damage. The team was comprised of scientist John Strupat and MBA students Darryl Baptiste and Akyljan Noupbaev.
Above: From left, Janet Lambert (contest judge), MBA students Akyljan Noupbaev and Darryl Baptiste, and scientist John Strupat
Fostering an entrepreneurial culture is integral to this competition, says Janet LeClair, chief administrative officer of YORKbiotech Inc., organizer of the competition along with Schulich Professor Amin Mawani. “Such collaboration between scientific, business and academic communities is essential in connecting concept to commerce,” LeClair says. “The competition helps in identifying investment opportunities critical to move the economy forward.”
sanofi pasteur was the gold sponsor for the competition, MaRS and the Town of Markham were silver sponsors, while bronze sponsors were the Health Technology Exchange and York Region District School Board.
About YORKbiotech Inc.
YORKbiotech is a growing cluster of public- and private-sector members that promotes the convergence and commercialization of research and development in information & communications technologies 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 12 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.