September 3, 2020

Accelerated Learning for Aspiring Entrepreneurs - Alberta Innovates

Failure in a startup context can signify many different things – from boundary-pushing forms of strivingand experimentalism to faulty assumptions about customers and commercial potential. With just over half of new ventures surviving their first five years of operation, entrepreneurs have a short runway to find their stride. Determining which risks to take on and how to manage them is vital.

In recognition of how important experiential learning is to the making of a successful entrepreneur, Alberta Innovates and Innovate Calgary have joined forces to expand a program for aspiring entrepreneurs: the Life Sciences Fellowship Program. This unique, two-year, full-time fellowship program combines startup funds and lab space with external advisory, coaching, and talent development resources to rapidly upskill Fellows in launching and growing a startup while navigating the commercialization process. Recruitment is underway for the third cohort, with an emphasis on Digital Health (application deadline: September 15, 2020).

The current roster of fellows includes:

Cohort One

Chechen BingNovusTX DevicesHigh resolution medical ultrasound imaging with beam focusing.
Jeremie BourquiWave View ImagingNon-invasive, non-radiation medical imaging for breast cancer.
Cody DoolanIllucidxPoint-of-care diagnostic chip for COVID-19.
Chris D’esterreAndromeda Medical ImagingPerfusion algorithm calculated from standard MRI medical imaging for Stroke imaging.

Cohort Two

Raied AburashedVibratusWearable peripheral neurological testing to characterize and correct gait.
Christopher BladenZymedyneNovel pharmaceutical for chronic pain.
David KatzAIndlit Medical AestheticsQuantitatively-driven cosmetic surgery visualization software.
Ling TangAnthoBioProprietary natural health product formulation neuroprotective in multiple sclerosis models

We encourage the business community to reach out and connect! Keep an eye on the evolving suite of startup supports and programming offered by Innovate Calgary and partners.

Fellow Spotlight: David Katz

Life Sciences Fellow and CEO of AIndlit Medical Aesthetics

David Katz is an Alberta Innovates sponsored fellow who is developing an automated pipeline for rapid processing and analysis of digital surface images. The underlying technology emerged out of an international research project that tested the extent to which genetic syndromes can be diagnosed from 3D images of human faces. The research involved training a machine-learning algorithm on a large database of syndromic and non-syndromic 3D facial images and resulted in the creation of a high-resolution generative model of non-syndromic 3D facial shape.

Through his newly created startup – AIndlit Medical Aesthetics Inc. – David is working with cosmetic surgeons to develop cosmetic surgery visualization and planning software that integrates patient aesthetic preferences with recommendations derived from statistical models of human variation, providing a far superior, confidence-building solution for the surgeon and patient. 

Vector field depicting the direction and magnitude of mean differences between male and female faces over a dense mes

Launching a startup amid the COVID-19 lockdown added a whole new suite of challenges to the already uncertain endeavour of building a company. David’s resourcefulness has enabled progress on many fronts, including working out the corporate structure and business development strategy to allow for multiple core technology applications. He looks forward to securing Mitacs Fellows and ramping up customer discovery and engagement in the coming months. David is also eager to help organize more opportunities for Fellows to share learnings and network with the broader startup ecosystem in Alberta.

Three months in and the fellowship still feels like a bit of a fairy tale to David. By his calculation, the experience and contacts to be gained are well worth the risk of investing oneself full-time in launching and growing a startup: “if you take advantage of it, you can’t lose.”