H2i Programs
FemSTEM
A multi-event series, our FemSTEM program looks to inspire, engage, and celebrate women entrepreneurs.
Our goal at H2i is to grow the infrastructure, practice, and local culture to translate discoveries and ideas into problem solving designs, services and product. We do this through building connections, linking people with mentors, resources, researchers, key opinion leaders, and professionals to help them translate, defuse, and scale discoveries. With this simple but extraordinarily effective model, we've been able to support a record number of ventures commercializing their health innovations. FemSTEM is our dedicated program focused on fostering an increasingly diverse and inclusive community. We are committed to supporting women and building valuable, diverse connections, uplifting women in STEM who are looking to create their own business. Event List FemSTEM Pitch Competition FemSTEM 2021 Kick Off Fireside at FemSTEM

H2i Presents: FemSTEM Pitch Competition

Only made possible by the generous support of the Temerty Faculty of Medicine through the Temerty gift, and University of Toronto Entrepreneurship through the Cassels Fourlines Women in Entrepreneurship Fund, H2i's 2021 FemSTEM programming culminates in our first ever FemSTEM Pitch Competition. Teams led by women entrepreneurs that are innovating within the health space are invited to apply for this opportunity to win up to $16,000 in non-dilutive funding. READ MORE ABOUT HOW THE PITCH COMPETITION WENT HERE

Meet Our Judges

Dr. Wendy Naimark is one of the founders of Ripple Therapeutics (RIPL) following its spin out from Interface Biologics (IBI) in 2020. Dr. Naimark has been leading teams in the development of local drug delivery products for over 20 years. She joined IBI in 2016 and led the Research & Development of both Epidel and Kinesyx technology teams and partner projects. Prior to joining IBI, Dr. Naimark led the Clinical Program for the development of a drug-eluting, self-expanding, biodegradable scaffold at 480 Biomedical. Dr. Naimark began her industry career at Boston Scientific in the Corporate R&D group, which developed the TAXUS® Drug Eluting Stent. At Boston Scientific her work spanned developing combination products to deliver angiogenic biological agents to leading Regulatory Submission Strategies for approval of Class III combination products. Dr. Naimark received her PhD in Biomaterials from the University of Toronto and began developing her career interest in local drug delivery at Caltech during her post-doctoral fellowship. Dr. Naimark is an inventor of 29 patents in the local drug delivery field.
Dr. Soror Sharifpoor is the Director of Strategy & Translation at the Translational Biology and Engineering Program (TBEP) within the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research. She joined TBEP in 2017 and has been involved in the fostering and implementation of sustainable research plans, successful partnerships, scientific and clinical translation strategies, an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and multifaceted training programs in the cardiovascular health sector. She is also the co-founder of Entrepreneurship for Cardiovascular Health Opportunities (ECHO), where she has been facilitating research translation and start-up creation. Launched in 2018, ECHO is a national entrepreneurship training and mentorship program for innovators of cardiovascular technologies. Dr. Sharifpoor has over 15 years of academic and industrial experience in the fields of biomaterials, biomedical engineering, and regenerative medicine, specializing in cardiovascular and soft tissue research and innovation. From 2016 to 2020, she served as the Chief Executive Officer of Polumiros Inc., a biomaterials start-up company that she co-founded. While at Polumiros, she led the development of a novel immunomodulatory polymer platform technology and was pivotal to fundraising as well as regulatory and commercialization strategy development. Prior to joining Polumiros, she served as an associate research engineer at Interface Biologics Inc., where she was involved in the commercialization of innovative biomaterials for improving the efficacy of medical devices and targeted drug delivery. Dr. Sharifpoor received her Bachelors at the University of Toronto (Engineering Science – Biomedical Engineering major), her Masters at Queen’s University (Chemical Engineering) and her PhD at the University of Toronto (Biomedical Engineering). She has been the recipient of several fellowships and awards, most notably FACIT’s Ernsting Entrepreneurship Award and the Norman F. Moody Award for Academic Excellence.
Rabia T. Khan, PhD, MBA is Founder and CEO of Ladder Therapeutics, a foundation stage biotech, a YCombinator company. Rabia has a background in immuno-genetics and is focussed on bridging the worlds of science, business and technology in the areas of medicine, healthcare, network biology and genomics.  Most recently, she was Managing Director for the Discovery Sciences division at Sensyne health, a publicly listed company with a unique partnership model with the NHS. At Sensyne, she established the scientific strategy, built the data science and discovery teams from 4 to 50 in 6 months. Dr. Khan was pivotal to a number of significant pharma partnerships with Bayer, BMS, LifeHub, Roche, Alexion and lead the launch of the SENS product focused on the development of Predictive Algorithms for patient deterioration. Under her leadership, the discovery sciences division launched multiple successful products alone or with pharma partners; the development of these products benefitted from Sensyne's unique access to NHS data resources. Prior to joining Sensyne Health, Rabia held senior roles at BenevolentAI and Meta. At Meta (acquired by Chan Zuckerberg BioHub), she was pivotal in the partnership with the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to acquire horizon-scanning technology that used NLP to research the biomedical corpus. At BenevolentAI, she helped shape the discovery strategy, and led the Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Glioblastoma drug discovery programmes and served as the interface between the technical and biological teams alongside Prof. Jackie Hunter. Rabia regularly presents on embracing the intersection of healthcare and technology to advance better patient outcomes and advocates the importance of STEM in industry and education. She was part of the feature 50 Movers and Shakers in BioBusiness - 19 and Invivo's 30 Rising Leaders 2020

Meet Our Finalists

DARA3D provides an immersive virtual reality training platform for physicians to develop competency in performing peripheral nerve blocks using anatomically accurate 3D models. Elaya is a medical device designed to tackle debilitating ICU-acquired muscle weakness by delivering electrical muscle stimulation therapy in the ICU improving patient quality of life after critical illness. HDAX Therapeutics focuses on developing epigenetic-targeting treatments through designing and synthesizing the next generation of life-improving, not just life-saving medicines to tackle unmet healthcare needs in cancers and CNS disorders. SPARKED provides a handheld device for early risk detection of cardiovascular disease.  Using the latest developments in nanotechnology and microfluidics, SPARKED removes the need for a traditional laboratory and offers screening results in your hands that are accurate, fast, and affordable. Titan Bionics is developing a lightweight wearable device for home use that will provide both immediate functional improvements and long-term rehabilitative benefits to those experiencing upper limb mobility issues due to aging or neuromuscular conditions. ToothPod is a convenient smart gum that boosts oral hygiene within minutes and helps prevent cavities anywhere, anytime. It cleans the mouth and the tongue by removing plaque and bacteria on and in-between the teeth.

Competition Details

Eligibility

Please read the following eligibility criteria carefully. Only ventures that meet all of the below criteria will be considered for the competition. Ventures must:
  • Be innovating within the health space
  • Have at least one co-founder or long-term team member who self-identifies as a woman
  • Have at least one co-founder/team member who is a current University of Toronto student (undergraduate or graduate)
  • Have a pitch presenter available who self-identifies as a woman
  • Have had at least one team member attend at least two FemSTEM events (Kick Off, Fireside Chats)
We encourage all interested ventures to join the H2i community as client companies to access the wealth of mentorship resources we offer.

Mentorship

Pitch finalists will have access to 1 hour of mentorship time from the H2i core team:
  • 30 minutes of pitch deck and story refinement with H2i Program Coordinator, Vivian Cheung
  • 30 minutes of venture and business idea refinement with H2i Director, Paul Santerre, and one of our Associate Directors

Application

Applications are now closed. Only selected finalists will be contacted by March 11 @ 5 PM EST with next steps. Proposals will be evaluated on commercialization/translation potential including (but not limited to) the following criteria: 
  • Identified health/medical need; 
  • Scientific basis for design solution; 
  • Novelty, complexity, risk & feasibility; 
  • Work plan, milestones, deliverables & decision points; 
  • Knowledge transfer plan; and 
  • Health impact / market potential. 

FemSTEM 2021 Kick Off

On January 13, 2021, we sat down with three extraordinary women entrepreneurs who spoke to us about their experiences building their careers and the valuable life lessons they've learned as they built their ventures.

Meet The Panelists

Meet Our Panelists

Joella Almeida is Co-Founder & Operations at MedEssist, a health-tech startup that focuses on improving the everyday health of patients by empowering them to access, understand, and manage their health through technology. Joella has worked in both start-ups & corporate organizations over the past decade. During her time at a fintech startup in 2017, she had the opportunity to experience first-hand a large-scale startup-acquisition by one of the 6th largest non-commercial global banks in the world. By leveraging business planning & relationship building to pursue strategic goals, she excelled in industries such as financial services, payments, & e-commerce. Today, as Co-Founder & Operations at MedEssist, she works to change the adoption of digital health across Canada through equitable access to healthcare opportunities. Dr. Natalie J. Galant is a co-founder of Paradox Immunotherapeutics, a pharmaceutical company dedicated to the creation of antibody therapies for the treatment of rare protein misfolding diseases, especially those characterized by amyloidosis. Prior to taking on this role, Natalie received her PhD from the University of Toronto's Department of Medical Biophysics and in her short academic tenure has co-authored over 15 publications in research areas ranging from chemical informatics to immunotherapy drug development. Her PhD work helped lead to the development of a monoclonal antibody currently in FDA clinical trials for the treatment of ATTR Amyloidosis. Additionally, she is the recipient of numerous academic fellowships and together with her team, was the winner of the inaugural Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research ECHO 2019 $250,000 pitch competition. Rabia T. Khan, PhD, MBA is Founder and CEO of Ladder Therapeutics, a foundation stage biotech, a YCombinator company. Rabia has a background in immuno-genetics and is focussed on bridging the worlds of science, business and technology in the areas of medicine, healthcare, network biology and genomics.  Most recently, she was Managing Director for the Discovery Sciences division at Sensyne health, a publicly listed company with a unique partnership model with the NHS. At Sensyne, she established the scientific strategy, built the data science and discovery teams from 4 to 50 in 6 months. Dr. Khan was pivotal to a number of significant pharma partnerships with Bayer, BMS, LifeHub, Roche, Alexion and lead the launch of the SENS product focused on the development of Predictive Algorithms for patient deterioration. Under her leadership, the discovery sciences division launched multiple successful products alone or with pharma partners; the development of these products benefitted from Sensyne's unique access to NHS data resources. Prior to joining Sensyne Health, Rabia held senior roles at BenevolentAI and Meta. At Meta (acquired by Chan Zuckerberg BioHub), she was pivotal in the partnership with the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) to acquire horizon-scanning technology that used NLP to research the biomedical corpus. At BenevolentAI, she helped shape the discovery strategy, and led the Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Glioblastoma drug discovery programmes and served as the interface between the technical and biological teams alongside Prof. Jackie Hunter. Rabia regularly presents on embracing the intersection of healthcare and technology to advance better patient outcomes and advocates the importance of STEM in industry and education. She was part of the feature 50 Movers and Shakers in BioBusiness - 19 and Invivo's 30 Rising Leaders 2020.

Fireside at FemSTEM

Check below to see who we've had at our past Fireside at FemSTEM sessions!

Past Fireside at FemSTEM Guests

Date: Wednesday, February 10, 2021 Time:  4 - 5 PM EST Dr. Debbie Lin is Executive Director at Boehringer Ingelheim Venture Fund in the US and leads the Fund’s North American efforts in Digital Healthcare. She joined Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals in 2008. Within Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma, she worked across various regions and divisions. She has worked in Medical Affairs in the area of women’s health and later in Health Economics and Outcomes supporting all commercial product sales with large payers and providers accounts on the West Coast. She also led the US organization’s social entrepreneurship program in Boehringer Ingelheim’s Making More Health collaboration with Ashoka. In 2013, she transitioned to Corporate Headquarters in Germany in Corporate Strategy and Development as Director of Corporate Development. There she was responsible for BI’s global development strategy, leading BI’s global venture into stroke rehabilitation. She led multi-country teams to set up the company’s first stroke rehabilitation centers in Shanghai, China and in Lisbon, Portugal. Prior to Boehringer Ingelheim, she worked as a Public Policy Consultant for Pacific Health Policy Group supporting Medicaid Policy implementation in various states such as Vermont and West Virginia during the Clinton Administration. Her doctorate is in Pharmacogenomics and Bioinformatics from UCSF, she also has a Masters in Engineering from Stanford University and a Masters in Public Policy from UCLA. Dr. Lin is a native Californian, she loves sunshine, being around nature and the ocean, yoga and dogs
Date: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 Time:  4 - 5 PM EST Dr. Wendy Naimark is one of the founders of Ripple Therapeutics (RIPL) following its spin out from Interface Biologics (IBI) in 2020. Dr. Naimark has been leading teams in the development of local drug delivery products for over 20 years. She joined IBI in 2016 and led the Research & Development of both Epidel and Kinesyx technology teams and partner projects. Prior to joining IBI, Dr. Naimark led the Clinical Program for the development of a drug-eluting, self-expanding, biodegradable scaffold at 480 Biomedical. Dr. Naimark began her industry career at Boston Scientific in the Corporate R&D group, which developed the TAXUS® Drug Eluting Stent. At Boston Scientific her work spanned developing combination products to deliver angiogenic biological agents to leading Regulatory Submission Strategies for approval of Class III combination products. Dr. Naimark received her PhD in Biomaterials from the University of Toronto and began developing her career interest in local drug delivery at Caltech during her post-doctoral fellowship. Dr. Naimark is an inventor of 29 patents in the local drug delivery field.
Date: Wednesday, March 10, 2021 Time:  4 - 5 PM EST Dr. Soror Sharifpoor is the Director of Strategy & Translation at the Translational Biology and Engineering Program (TBEP) within the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research. She joined TBEP in 2017 and has been involved in the fostering and implementation of sustainable research plans, successful partnerships, scientific and clinical translation strategies, an entrepreneurial ecosystem, and multifaceted training programs in the cardiovascular health sector. She is also the co-founder of Entrepreneurship for Cardiovascular Health Opportunities (ECHO), where she has been facilitating research translation and start-up creation. Launched in 2018, ECHO is a national entrepreneurship training and mentorship program for innovators of cardiovascular technologies. Dr. Sharifpoor has over 15 years of academic and industrial experience in the fields of biomaterials, biomedical engineering, and regenerative medicine, specializing in cardiovascular and soft tissue research and innovation. From 2016 to 2020, she served as the Chief Executive Officer of Polumiros Inc., a biomaterials start-up company that she co-founded. While at Polumiros, she led the development of a novel immunomodulatory polymer platform technology and was pivotal to fundraising as well as regulatory and commercialization strategy development. Prior to joining Polumiros, she served as an associate research engineer at Interface Biologics Inc., where she was involved in the commercialization of innovative biomaterials for improving the efficacy of medical devices and targeted drug delivery. Dr. Sharifpoor received her Bachelors at the University of Toronto (Engineering Science – Biomedical Engineering major), her Masters at Queen’s University (Chemical Engineering) and her PhD at the University of Toronto (Biomedical Engineering). She has been the recipient of several fellowships and awards, most notably FACIT’s Ernsting Entrepreneurship Award and the Norman F. Moody Award for Academic Excellence.