Move fast and break things? Not when you’re building a health-care start up: U of T entrepreneur
When it comes to the heavily regulated medical space, Robert Brooks says entrepreneurs should steer clear of the launch-it-now-fix-it-later approach favoured by the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world. “The Silicon Valley idea of ‘move fast and break things’ doesn’t work well in health care,” says the University of Toronto engineering alumnus and CEO of SensOR Medical Laboratories, referring to the Facebook CEO’s original mantra. It was one of several words of wisdom dispensed by Brooks and fellow U of T entrepreneur Marek Pacal, who founded diabetes detection startup Optiggx, to nearly three dozen attendees at a Health Innovation Hub, or H2i, event this week. The event, held at Autodesk’s offices in the MaRS Discovery District, served to kick off H2i’s HealthEDGE Initiative, which is designed to encourage the creation and prototyping of solutions that address real health-care challenges through workshops, mentorships and a pitch competition. HealthEDGE is a partnership between H2i, the Department of Computer Science Innovation Lab (DCSIL) and the Entrepreneurship Hatchery – all part of the expansive ecosystem of entrepreneurship hubs located across U of T’s three Toronto-area campuses. Attendees at the HealthEDGE launch event listen to presentations from U of T entrepreneurs (photo by Chris Sorensen) In his presentation, Brooks gave an overview of SensOR, the company he co-founded with Justin Wee, a PhD candidate in biomedical engineering at U of T. The startup has developed a unique force-sensing system that can be attached to minimally invasive surgical instruments that are used to perform surgeries through tiny incisions. It provides feedback via a wireless connection that helps surgeons tie sutures or manipulate tissue without causing damage.