Medical startups compete for $15,000 in prizes at U of T accelerator’s pitch event

From using seal oil to treat nerve damage to a new tool to aid minimally invasive surgery, entrepreneurs from the University of Toronto and beyond tested out health-focused business ideas during the Health Innovation Hub’s (H2i) recent pitch competition.

Six startups presented their ideas before a panel of three judges at U of T’s ONRamp co-working space for entrepreneurs before being questioned about their products, markets and business models.

One of the winning startups, called Xpan, took home $5,000 for its attempt to improve on a surgical device called a trocar, a T-shaped implement used to create a portal into the abdomen during laparoscopic surgery.

The problem? Existing trocars must be replaced during surgery if bigger tools are needed. So Xpan created an expandable trocar that promises to speed up procedures and reduce complications.

“Xpan will be creating a new surgical gold standard, saving lives and saving money,” Zaid Atto, a U of T graduate in biomedical engineering, told the judges.

Back in September, Atto and his team, which includes Seray Cicek and Chevis Dilbert, as well as Chris Bouwmeester, an assistant professor, teaching stream in U of T’s Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering, took home a $10,000 prize for Xpan at a similar pitch competition at the Entrepeneurship Hatchery’s Demo Day. They developed the device after Priscilla Chiu, a surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children, relayed the problem to Bouwmeester, who, in turn, presented it to his fourth-year class. Continue Reading