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Assistive-tech firms compete for $20,000 at OCE Discovery


Five up and coming Ontario assistive technology companies will compete for $20,000 in business development funding in Ontario Centres of Excellence’s Accessibility Tech Pitch competition, part of The Government of Ontario’s Accessibility Innovation Showcase at Discovery 2016 in Toronto next week.

“OCE is proud to build off of the successes of last year’s competition to continue the support and development of accessibility devices and technologies,” says OCE President and CEO Dr. Tom Corr. “This year’s competition will once again support further development and showcase made-in-Ontario innovation.”

Showcase made-in-Ontario innovation

Ontario Centres of Excellence, in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI), will host the second Accessibility Innovation Showcase and Tech Pitch Competition at Discovery 2016.

“I am pleased that OCE is partnering with us to help build a more innovative and accessible Ontario. By bringing entrepreneurs and industry leaders together, we can help launch cutting-edge accessibility technologies that improve the lives of people with disabilities,” says Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. “This competition is another step we’re taking to create an innovation-driven economy, grow made-in-Ontario businesses and achieve an accessible province by 2025.”

The Accessibility Innovation Showcase will bring together 35 Ontario-based companies, providing them with the opportunity to display their accessibility-focused innovation and network with industry experts, investors, government funders, and the accessibility community. Taking place May 9 and 10 at Discovery 2016, the showcase will build broader awareness of the companies in this niche market and engage the entire innovation ecosystem.

Each company gets 10-minutes to pitch its innovative product

Each of the five finalist companies will participate in the Finalist Pitch Workshop on May 8, a practical opportunity for each company to receive feedback on their pitches. On May 9, the Tech Pitch Competition will allow each company a maximum of 10 minutes to pitch their innovative product or service to the accessibility community and panel of judges, followed by a 10-minute question and answer period.

The winner will receive a $20,000 award to assist with further development of their assistive technology innovation. The judging panel will be made up of: Brenda Hogan, Senior Investment Manager, OCGC; Mickey Milner, Professor Emeritus, Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering and Consultant, medical and assistive technologies; Luke Anderson, Founder, StopGap; Brian Kobus, Director, OMERS Ventures; Daniel Saikaley, Industrial Technology Advisor, NRC.

Pitch competition finalists are:

Eightfold Technologies

Eightfold Technologies is developing a plug and play solution for mechanized/powered vehicles. This technology is being applied to power wheelchairs using the SmartChair™ Platform, a control system that can be integrated into any existing power wheelchair. It allows the user to control their wheelchair remotely using a smartphone. A wheelchair outfitted with our control system will also be able to autonomously follow a line, automating tasks such as navigating indoors and loading in and out of an accessible vehicle, enabling a new level of independence for power wheelchair users.

EquiHire

EquiHire is transforming the way jobseekers with disabilities find employment and employers find diverse talent. We’re enabling jobseekers with disabilities to connect with employers, reach their career goals and earn great jobs by providing them with access to helpful resources and thousands of job postings. Unlike other sites, we allow jobseekers to access content and navigate our site using assistive technologies, giving our users a barrier-free job search experience. Our platform will make a significant impact in increasing the representation of people with disabilities in Canada’s workforce.

iMerciv Inc.

iMerciv caters to the orientation and mobility needs of those living with vision loss through new wearable assistive technology. The BuzzClip is a small and discreet wearable for people that are blind or partially sighted. The device offers essential head-level obstacle detection and can be easily attached to many forms of clothing. Using ultrasound to detect nearby obstacles, the device notifies the user with intuitive vibrations, allowing the user to safely navigate around any objects that they may encounter.

Komodo OpenLab Inc.

Komodo OpenLab Inc. develops exclusive technologies to facilitate the daily lives of people with disabilities. Tecla, Komodo’s flagship product line, is a set of hardware and software tools that allow individuals with upper-body mobility impairments to gain control of their smart phones, tablets and computers. Tecla Shield is the wireless hardware that allows individuals with limited hand functionality to interact with their smart devices or computers hands-free. Tecla gives everyone the freedom to access off-the-shelf consumer products like the iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, while promoting the sustainable development of inclusive technologies for the entire population.

Zagga Entertainment

Zagga Entertainment is solving the problem of inaccessible video-on-demand (VOD) and creating inclusion around film and TV by developing accessible and efficient ways for users with vision loss to access described video content on the web, mobile devices, smart TVs and other platforms. Content will be available and fully accessible with assistive technology on the web, iOS and Android devices.  Zagga’s mission is uniting those with and without sight over great visual storytelling.

Named Canada’s Best Trade Show 2010 and 2011 and now in its eleventh year, OCE’s Discovery is Canada’s premier innovation showcase. It brings together the best and brightest minds in industry, academia, investment and government to showcase leading-edge technologies, best practices and research in the areas of energy, the environment, advanced health, digital media, information and communication technologies and advanced manufacturing. The annual conference and showcase attracts more than 3,200 attendees and 500 exhibitors.