On Thursday March 7th, University of Toronto startups took to the stage for the 2024 Desjardins Startup Prize Competition! Finalists pitched their innovative work for a chance to win more than $100,000 in total prizes. The event, part of University of Toronto’s Entrepreneurship Week, took place at the recently opened Schwartz Reisman Innovation Campus.

More than 60 student-led startups applied to take part in the prestigious competition, with 11 finalists selected to pitch to expert judges Nishant Raizada (Desjardins), Maura Campbell (OBIO), and Tanay Delima (HighFi).

Of the 11 finalists, seven came from the H2i community. Epiloid Biotech, Neuropeutics and ToothPod competed in the Early-Stage Category, with Cove Neurosciences, Creative Medical Solutions, SilicoLabs and Synakis vying for prizes in the Late-Stage Category.

All six finalists did an incredible job presenting strong pitches of their innovative health solutions. Congratulations to all finalists–the H2i team was thrilled to be sitting in the audience cheering you on!

Read on to hear from this year’s winners from the H2i community…

Photos featured in this article kindly captured and provided by Alyssa K. Faoro.


Presented by CEO & Co-Founder Dr. Marc Shenouda

2nd Place – $10,000 Prize
People’s Choice– $4,000 Prize

“We are thrilled to receive the 2nd place and people’s choice award from the Desjardins-UofT Pitch competition. We are grateful to the esteemed judges for believing in our mission, and for the hundreds of attendees who share our vision where neurodegenerative diseases are no longer terminal diagnoses. Together with our dedicated team, we are working relentlessly to turn this imagination into a reality.”

— Dr. Marc Shenouda, CEO & Co-founder, Neuropeutics

Learn more about Neuropeutics here!

Presented by CEO & Co-Founder Vishar Yaghoubian

3rd Place – $5,000 Prize

“Pitching at the Desjardins StartUp Prize gave us the most incredible opportunity to showcase Toothpods. We had the opportunity to speak to investors, important stakeholders, and meet over 50 other startups at their booth. Winning and being selected as one of the top 3 early-stage companies was an honour and it truly helped us move forward, and gain so much exposure and momentum as a start-up.

— Vishar Yaghoubian, CEO & Founder, ToothPod

Learn more about ToothPod here!


Presented by Co-Founder Mickael Dang

1st Place – $40,000 Prize

“Participating in and winning the Desjardins Pitch Competition was an exhilarating experience. Not only did it validate our hard work and innovation but also enable to share Synakis’ mission to prevent blindness. It was a testament to the power of teamwork, creativity, and perseverance in achieving success in the Canadian entrepreneurial landscape.”

— Mickael Dang, Co-Founder, Synakis

Learn more about Synakis here!

Cove Neurosciences
Presented by Co-Founder & CEO Dr. Nardin Samuel

2nd Place – $20,000
People’s Choice – $4,000

“The unwavering support of the University of Toronto’s accelerators, mentors and innovators has been the cornerstone of our journey. Standing before such an enthusiastic audience and feeling the shared passion for innovation was an experience beyond words. This accolade is a testament to a collective vision that champions entrepreneurship, and we are deeply honored to be part of this vibrant UTE ecosystem that turns bold ideas into reality.”

— Dr. Nardin Samuel, Co-Founder & CEO, Cove Neurosciences

Learn more about Cove Neurosciences here!