Skip to Main Content


  • 25 Oct 2020 by Randy Fisher

    Source: Investment Capital Program Guidelines 
    The BC EBC (eligible business corporation) tax credit supports investment in high risk early stage. It is available to friends & family investors (after the first $25,000), angel and private equity investors. 


    Eligible Business Corporation (EBC)

    In BC, one of the first thing that investors want to know after you piqued their interest is if your startup is an Eligible Business CorporationBC residents get a 30% tax credit when they invest in an EBC-eligible business. They can further reduce the costs of their investment by using the RRSP deduction of up to 49.8% depending on their tax bracket (i.e., 30% EBC + 49.8% RRSP tax benefit, making it close to 80%). Investors who want to diversify their current RRSP or TFSA investments can also receive the 30% tax credit - and should speak to their tax advisors for the details.

    Startup founders can find information about applying for EBC status on the BC Government website

    “Under the 'direct' investment model, a small business registers as an Eligible Business Corporation. EBCs can accept equity capital directly from investors without having to set up a venture capital corporation (VCC). This investment structure is ideal for an investor planning to be actively involved in the growth of the small business.


    A Mutually-Beneficial Partnership

    VANTEC has partnered with Western Pacific Trust (WPT) as it can help startup founders and investors benefit. Unfortunately, most wealth managers and banks can’t help with this significant opportunity; so WPT has developed a specially-structured investment account that enables investors to have eligible private capital investments in their RRSPs and TFSAs. This saves a ton of effort - and makes raising money easier and faster.


    Startup Funding Makes Economic Sense

    “It’s one of our best kept secrets,” says Alison Alfer, President and CEO, Western Pacific Trust. “We help startups and founders raise capital more easily by making their story and pitches more attractive to their investors.” “This opens up a whole new pool of capital to the founder,” she says, “because banks and brokerages don’t let you put a private investment into an RRSP.” 

    Many people know others who have substantial funds sitting in the bank earning next to nothing. They can choose to diversify their portfolio and gain higher risk and higher reward and invest in BC Companies.”


    Independent Trust Company

    Established in 1999, WPT is an independent trust company that provides financial services to corporations and individuals. The company offers its services in all provinces except Saskatchewan and Quebec. “We specialize in working with startups,” she says. We’re working hard to educate the community about this important mechanism to raise capital.” 

    To get started, founders have to properly set up their investment account. An application to the WPT Onboarding Team gets the ball rolling. After a short review process and documentation, founders can focus on raising money. 

    “It really builds trust and credibility with investors,” says Alison Alfer. “When you’re raising money, it’s critical to think about investors’ needs. They want - and need - an investment vehicle that easily and legally holds private capital investments in their RRSPs and TFSAs. Investors reap the myriad of tax benefits from investing, and saving.  “It makes it so much easier for founders to raise money, and for investors to use and leverage the funds in their RRSPS and TFSAs. Everyone wins.


    The Process for Founders

    1. Register as an Eligible Business Corporation (EBC) to provide investors with a 30% BC provincial tax credit.

    2. Enable investors to invest in your company via their RRSP and or TFSA. Contact the WPT Onboarding Team to set up an investment account. There’s a short review process (approx. 10 days) and a one-time fee of $1,000+ tax (full refund WPTC does not accept the application).

    3. After WPT approves the account, the Founder can go out and pitch his / her company as an eligible investment with the option to invest in via their RRSP or TFSA.


    The Process for Investors

    1. Set up your RRSP / TFSA at Western Pacific Trust to ensure that your private investments are eligible for tax benefits as stated in the Income Tax Act.

    2. Invest in startup companies, and take advantage of the 30% EBC tax credit.

    3. Shelter the growth in the investment, and get an RRSP refund.

    4. WPT handles all of the reporting. 


    To learn more:

    Website: BC Eligible Business Corporation Guidelines  | Email: | Phone: 1 800 665-6597

    Website: Western Pacific Trust | Email: | Phone: (604) 683-0455 

  • 19 Aug 2020 by Randy Fisher



    VANTEC is focused on bringing BC’s Angel Investor community together with promising early-stage entrepreneurs for learning, insight and meaningful conversations.


    We’re proud of our active role in the BC’ ecosystem and the valued partnership to generate solid returns for investors, grow companies and contribute to Made-in-Canada job and knowledge creation. Every year after the summer break we invite BC's accelerators to present their programs and some of their most promising ventures.


    Vancouver and Lower Mainland Accelerators


    adMare BioInnovations - Health & Life Sciences Accelerator

    AdMare BioInnovations is Canada’s Global Life Sciences Venture, building the Canadian life sciences industry from sea to sea. We source therapeutically and commercially promising research from leading academic and biotech partners to create new companies of scale, providing specialized expertise, infrastructure, and capital to help existing companies scale up, and driving the growth of those companies into Canadian anchors by training the next generation of highly-qualified personnel. Companies include: Zymeworks, Mesentech, Precision Nanosystems, Sepset Biosciences, Sitka Biopharma. 


    Creative Destruction Lab Vancouver - CDL West

    CDL-West is located in Vancouver, BC at the Sauder School of Business, University of British Columbia. It is a fast-growing nonprofit tech hub on the West Coast, that delivers an objectives-based program for massively scalable, seed-stage, science- and technology-based companies. It runs 15 program streams including Prime (general) and AgTech, AI, Climate, Health, Energy and more - focusing on the commercialization and convergence of technologies that improve human well-being, health and progress and advance solutions to improve our world. |


    Discovery Parks - Health Tech Accelerator

    Discovery Parks uses its assets to create capital through Investment in early stage technology companies, with a focus on Health Technology.  It provides business mentorship, capital investment and value creation through its Investment Corporation, Nimbus Synergies Inc., to grow its equity base and to support its Vision. Programs include office, laboratory space and a 5,000 sq. ft incubator space - ‘The Generator’ - offered in collaboration with the City of Vancouver. An annual competition for startup technology firms offers 12 months of free office space to firms deemed most likely to succeed.


    Entrepreneurship@UBC propels UBC innovations out into the world through venture creation, providing UBC students, researchers, faculty members, alumni and staff with the resources, networks, and funding they need to succeed. To date, entrepreneurship@UBC ventures have raised more than $221 million in funding, generated more than $30 million in revenue and hired more than 500 employees, stimulating the economic and social landscape of B.C. while building anchor companies that have a global impact.


    Futurpreneur Canada

    Futurpreneur Canada has been fueling the entrepreneurial passions of Canada’s young enterprise for two decades. We are the only national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39. Our internationally recognized mentoring program hand matches young entrepreneurs with a business expert from a network of more than 3,000 volunteer mentors.


    Founder Institute - Pre-Seed Accelerator

    The Founder Institute is the world's largest pre-seed accelerator, having helped launch over 4,300 companies across 200+ cities and six continents. Founded in 2009, it was apparent that most entrepreneurs at the idea and launch stages lacked the structure, feedback, and support network needed to be successful. In total, Founder Institute Alumni have raised over $950M and are worth an estimated $20B. 


    Foresight Cleantech Accelerator

    Foresight is Western Canada’s clean technology accelerator. We build industry-supportive ecosystems that help drive the growth, commercialization, and adoption of SME developed technologies focused on progressive climate targets and transitions to a green economy.


    Launch Academy

    Launch Academy is Vancouver’s leading entrepreneurship facility that has incubated more than 3500 entrepreneurs of which 300 have grown their startups to Seed and Series A stage and raised over $300M in funding. 

    Praxis Spinal Cord Institute

    Praxis Spinal Cord Institute brings together the best in class research, commercialization and consumer experts in the area of SCI to provide companies with the tools needed to scale and develop their innovation internationally. Praxis’ 12-week commercialization program is geared towards healthcare companies with a product ready-to-launch into the market, transforming the lives of people living with SCI.


    RADIUS @ SFU - Social Innovation Hub

    RADIUS is a social innovation hub based in the Beedie School of Business, SFU, in the heart of Vancouver at the Charles Chang Innovation Centre. We have supported over 150 social ventures, diving deep into social innovation lab and systems change work with a multitude of partners; training hundreds of SFU students and community members; and engaging thousands of people through events and knowledge sharing.


    SFU VentureLabs - Accelerator

    VentureLabs accelerates innovation-based ventures through the BC Venture Acceleration Program, helping businesses accelerate market validation, access mentoring from experienced serial entrepreneurs, learning opportunities and workshops, co-working, meeting, and maker spaces, as well as access to financing.


    Spring Activator - Impact Accelerator

    Spring Activator is a global incubator, accelerator and advisory firm that helps impact entrepreneurs, investors and entrepreneurial ecosystem builders thrive. We have helped 750+ entrepreneurs, created 500 companies and raised $24M+. We support 40 communities on 5 continents.


    Tamwood - Global Startup School

    Part business school and accelerator the Startup School helps individuals discover and learn the skills to launch their Business. Students can take courses in innovation and entrepreneurship and then follow on to use the skills they have learned to start their own company. 


    VR/AR Association - Vancouver Chapter

    Vancouver is the 2nd largest VR/AR ecosystem in the world! The VRARA Vancouver chapter is the leading voice of VR/AR in BC and the larger ecosystem. This includes original content creators & creative distributors to innovative hardware companies and ambitious researchers. 


    BC Regional Accelerators


    Accelerate Okanagan

    As the Okanagan tech community and companies within it continue to grow, so does Accelerate Okanagan’s (AO), support model. Coined ‘Continuous Acceleration,’ AO delivers unique programming for different stages of growth.



    Alacrity Canada facilitates success and economic growth in the Western Canadian technology sector by providing support and entrepreneurial mentorship to promising entrepreneurs, in addition to finding and connecting these individuals with the venture capital funding needed to develop thriving local tech companies.


    Innovation Central Society

    Innovation Central Society supports technology entrepreneurs in starting and growing successful companies. We host events and run programs that focus on developing and supporting an innovative technology community in the northern interior of British Columbia.


    Innovation Island Technology Association

    Innovation Island Technology Association (Innovation Island) is Vancouver Island’s regional voice for technology entrepreneurship, We support entrepreneurs to start and grow technology companies by providing them with programs and resources they need to succeed. Our companies have received more than $20M in investment, generated $25M in revenues and created nearly 200 jobs. We provided business support, special events and a startup accelerator.


    Kamloops Innovation

    Kamloops Innovation gives new and growing technology-enabled businesses the mentorship, connections and community they need to thrive. We offer affordable programs that guide, coach and mentor entrepreneurs.


    Kootenay Association for Science and Technology

    Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) is a nonprofit technology organization serving the entire Kootenay regions. We are passionate about connecting people, businesses and their innovative ideas. Since 1998, we’ve led our region’s economic development through technology and innovation. 


    Purppl- Social Enterprise Accelerator

    Purppl accelerates ideas, projects and enterprises that work for the public good. We help social entrepreneurs build sustainable revenue models and sustainable impact models.


    VIATEC - Victoria

    Victoria Innovation, Advanced Technology and Entrepreneurship Council (VIATEC), started in 1989. Its mission is to cultivate a most cohesive tech community by providing resources to tackle shared opportunities and challenges. It offers an EIR program, free business coaching, and a venture acceleration program in association with Innovate BC.


    Other BC Organizations Supporting Startups 


    Innovate BC

    Innovate BC represents the Government of British Columbia in BC’s innovation ecosystem. We link innovators to funding, resources and support to help grow companies in every corner of the province. We help entrepreneurs take innovation from the white board to the real world.


    Interface Health

    Interface Health Society is a not-for-profit digital health organization based in Vancouver, BC, has launched Interface Health: a global digital health accelerator and online community. The accelerator is a place for digital health innovators to find the resources they need, anytime, anywhere. That means faster access, reduced costs, improved experiences and better outcomes for everybody. Interface Health is an integrated multi-platform consisting of an annual global competition, a social network and an annual summit.


    New Ventures BC

    New Ventures BC (NVBC) is a nonprofit organization that has supported 2,530 early-stage tech startups, creating 3,720 jobs and raised $335 million in financing over 20 years of operation.Through government and corporate support, our programs, events and competitions provide the education, tools, networking, and grant funding for tech startups to succeed. 


    Vancouver Entrepreneurs’ Forum

    The Vancouver Entrepreneurs Forum (VEF) is an online and offline platform for entrepreneurs within the technology realm. Through monthly forums, we bring together like-minded people to cultivate connections and create conversations designed to stimulate ideas. We host eight events per calendar year, kicking off our season in September and running until May with a hiatus in December.


    Tandem Innovation - Investment Ready Program

    Tandem Innovation provides a network of Contract CFO’s, Accounting and Bookkeeping Professionals with co-founder mindsets to collaborate with visionary entrepreneurs to innovate and grow businesses from startup to exit. 


    Volition Advisors

    At Volition, we support entrepreneurs across Canada and beyond by providing space for conversations, connections, and practical skill-building and knowledge-sharing across sectors and stakeholders. We've hosted over 90 pitch events with 5,000+ attendees.


    Women’s Enterprise Centre

    Women’s Enterprise Center (WEC) is a non-profit organization helping BC women start, lead and grow their own businesses. We provide business loans up to $150K, with access to an additional $100K through a partnership with the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC). WEC has fueled the success of women-led businesses since 1995, providing business skills training, personalized business advice, mentoring, practical business resources and a supportive community to help women business owners gain the skills, mindset, financing and networks to realize their business potential. We have offices in Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria. 


    Other Canadian Organizations Supporting Startups 


    Natural Products Canada

    Natural Products Canada (NPC) is the driving force behind Canada’s Natural Product Innovation Cluster–a strategic community of SMEs, research institutes, corporations, investors, government departments, and service providers who support the development and commercialization of naturally-derived products and technologies in health and life sciences, natural resources, agriculture and agri-food, and sustainable bioproducts. As part of its role in the Cluster, NPC offers a suite of Commercialization Programs to help companies and researchers advance high-potential products and technologies; provides connection and innovation scouting services to industry and investors through its Innovation Hub; and leverages its Investment Fund to help develop and de-risk promising Canadian opportunities. NPC has over 500 opportunities in its pipeline, has completed six investments, and has already experienced two exits.


    Let us know if we missed anyone or if you’d like us to include or link to more details on programs, demo days etc. Just send an email to 

    In a next post we'll look at the seed stage investors.


  • 01 Jun 2020 by Randy Fisher

    An interview with Lawrence Buchan, Co-Founder & CEO, Arbutus Medical


    Tell me about yourself and your journey to this point. How did you decide to start the company?

    I studied mechanical engineering at the University of Toronto, and then at the University of British Columbia, where I achieved a Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering. While at UBC, I became involved with a cool multidisciplinary program called Engineers in Scrubs (EIS) which brings engineers and healthcare professionals together to solve challenging problems in clinical settings.

    As part of EIS, I was at Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) working with the Orthopaedic Trauma group, where they conducted biannual humanitarian missions to Uganda to help local surgeons develop training programs. Two VGH ortho-trauma surgeons, Dr. Peter O’Brien and Dr. Piotr Blachut, explained that in Uganda, and many other low-resource settings, hospitals were unable to afford orthopaedic power drills due to their high cost (i.e., $30K per unit). The surgeons asked us to develop a radically-affordable alternative: this led us to create Arbutus Medical’s flagship DrillCover – a orthopaedic power tool system 30x less expensive than conventional drills.

    We were fortunate to secure funding from several global health organizations and began receiving a lot of inbound interest. During this time, I learned that 5 billion people didn’t have access to safe surgery. What made this huge problem worse, was a lack of access to safe equipment. I was appalled. My co-founders and I felt a sense of responsibility to help as many patients as possible and decided to pursue commercialization of the DrillCover. Our motto: Safe Surgery for All.

    While developing the DrillCover, I became enthralled with the concept of “frugal innovation” - creating simple products that save cost by design. The rising cost of healthcare and a growing global population is on pace to create major societal problems for every country over the next 100 years. So, my co-founders and I decided that frugal innovation could help every hospital in the world was part of the solution to save money – and a medical device business utilizing this focus could play a key role in the healthcare system of our future.

    In December 2014, Arbutus Medical was established.  We are on a mission to improve millions of lives. We have already enabled 58,000 safe surgeries and have a stretch goal of reaching 5 million safe surgeries this decade.


    Who are your Customers / Prospective Customers?

    We sell our power tools to orthopaedic surgery providers and help them reduce costs. We sell to global health NGOs, veterinarians, military field medicine teams, and trauma centers in North America and globally. Our products have been used in over 35 countries.


    What Solution / Technology are you using to meet your Customers’ needs?

    Our DrillCover platform consists of a sterile cover and chuck mechanism. It enables the use of a nonsterile power tool in surgery. This is a more cost-efficient design compared to conventional surgical drills that have a sterilizable stainless steel casing. We sterilize the covers, not the whole drill, motor, and battery. We’ve developed strategic partnerships with hardware drill brands like DEWALT to radically reduce cost while giving surgeons a reliable, easy to use, powerful tool. We sell a kit that includes the drill, cover, and chuck attachments. The entire system is patented, and we’ve attained regulatory licenses with Health Canada and the Food and Drug Administration.

    The products were developed based on an initial clinical need and we went through many design iterations gathering feedback from surgeons in Uganda and Vancouver General Hospital. We continue to collaborate with our customers to make product improvements and tailor features of the system to surgical needs in every one of our target markets.


    What differentiates your company from the competition? 

    We are a medical device company driven by a social purpose – Safe Surgery for All.

    There is no other orthopaedic device or surgical power tool company with an ethos of frugal innovation and performance. We are meeting an important need and gap in the world’s marketplace. We are responding to an audacious challenge: successfully building a platform of frugal innovations that improve access to surgery for millions of patients and reduce the cost of orthopaedic care worldwide.


    Randy Fisher, MA, BJ,  is a communications and market research professional with experience in business writing, customer interviewing, media relations and storytelling. His experience in customer discovery and validation and education helps firms accelerate adoption and rapidly penetrate new markets. He teaches business and proposal writing and interview skills at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He began his career in Vancouver and worked as a business journalist with The Globe and Mail, Financial Post and CBC Radio.

  • 31 May 2020 by Randy Fisher


    A conversation with Bryan Statham, Co-Founder, CEO, LifeBooster


    Tell me about yourself and your journey to this point. How did you decide to start the company?

    Entrepreneurship and business were ingrained in me throughout childhood: my mother was a strong business person and my father was a successful entrepreneur. I knew from a young age that I would become an entrepreneur myself solving problems to help protect people and ensure they were safe.


    With that goal in mind, I studied biomedical sciences and was focused on becoming a medical practitioner. Upon graduating, I felt I was missing something... adventure! So, I travelled, working in clinics, hospitals, orphanages, and various care facilities to support myself. When I returned, I worked in a number of different industries from warehousing operations to hospitality to investment banking. I learned how to drive a forklift, motivate people, manage teams, and negotiate deals. Success was always dependent on the quality of the team and our ability to work well together.


    During those years, I missed the passion I had helping others while travelling abroad. I also suffered back strains and tendonitis on-the-job. Many of my close friends and family members had worked in demanding industrial environments and they too were seriously injured on-the-job. The devastating physical, emotional, and financial impacts of these injuries resonated with me deeply as I felt strongly that all of these injuries were preventable. I asked myself: “How can we stop these injuries from happening in the first place?”


    This observation and frustration with the current state of worker safety in an industrial setting led to the creation of LifeBooster and its connected worker and risk analytics platform. The experiences I had managing warehouse and hospitality operations gave me deep knowledge and insights about the “what”, “how” and “why” of workplace health and safety. Today, we are a market leader in Digital Safety Technology – helping to ensure that every worker goes home safe every day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Our vision is to be the trusted provider of real-time worker risk and safety analytics offering a comprehensive view of multivariate injury risk data to industrial employers.


    Who are your Customers / Prospective Customers - What do they do? 

    LifeBooster is operating at the intersection of industrial IoT, insurtech and data analytics. We are serving all sectors of the industrial economy, especially essential service sectors such as energy, manufacturing, utilities, and logistics.


    Our value to our customers flows from the shop floor to the boardroom. Employees gain confidence knowing they are safe and protected on-the-job. Safety Managers gain visibility and presence onsite, allowing them to digitally assess the workplace and scale their capabilities to drive effective programs and injury prevention. Employers benefit from reduced costs for workplace injuries, such as medical and insurance costs, and indirect costs related to lost time / productivity losses and administrative burden.


    What Solution / Technology are you using to meet your Customers’ needs? 

    We have developed Senz, a connected worker and risk analytics platform. It pairs an industrial-grade wearable multi-sensor platform with a cloud-based analytics engine that delivers risk assessments in near real-time.

    LifeBooster is also developing a suite of risk modules that address different types of risk in industrial work environments. Today, our risk modules include ErgoSenz (ergonomic assessment) and ThermalSenz (heat stress risk).

    We have validated our core business model and the value of our technology through a series of deployments with Fortune 500 employers across a range of target industries. We have also partnered with one of the top workers’ compensation insurers globally. We collaborate and partner with global risk consultancies. Further validation has come through our customers experience: continuing reduction of injury risk exposure in the workplace.      

    What differentiates your company from the competition? 

    LifeBooster offers a multi-sensor, multivariate comprehensive injury risk solution - capable of assessing a multitude of risk types simultaneously – whereas competitors typically are single-sensor and/or single injury solutions. We have intelligence on all forms of workplace injuries and embed this knowledge in our data and analytics platform.


    Fundamentally, we are a data analytics platform company and not a wearables company: wearable devices offer us the ability to obtain worker safety and risk data, which we analyze with machine learning and provide to our industrial customers for business decisions and risk mitigation. Employees who feel safe on-the-job are going to produce at a higher level and continue working. Employers who respect this important reality gain a more productive workforce and minimize operational disruptions.


    Randy Fisher, MA, BJ,  is a communications and market research professional with experience in business writing, customer interviewing, media relations and storytelling. His experience in customer discovery and validation and education helps firms accelerate adoption and rapidly penetrate new markets.  He teaches business and proposal writing and interview skills at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He began his career in Vancouver and worked as a business journalist with The Globe and Mail, Financial Post and CBC Radio.


  • 28 May 2020 by Randy Fisher

    A conversation with Lukas-Karim Merhi, CEO and Co-Founder, Biointeractive Technologies


    Tell me about yourself and your journey to this point. How did you decide to start the company? 

    I was trained as a biomedical engineer with specialization in medical/optical imaging. I decided to pursue entrepreneurship and technology commercialization vs. a PhD. I spent a number of years in academia, familiarizing myself with great technology that could meet massive unmet needs in the market.

    My life has revolved around business – my family have had multiple small businesses and been involved in venture-backed enterprises which have instilled an entrepreneurial spirit. My first attempt at a healthcare startup was a spectacular failure – However, I did learn three important lessons:

    • Do not build accessories to accessories
    • Only work with decision makers in healthcare
    • Don’t run out of money

    These important lessons are embedded in my latest venture. After I stopped working at my first startup, I needed a job to pay the bills and found myself back in academia (initially as a researcher turned lab manager). I met my current co-founders at this lab. They were working on tracking technologies for hand impairments

    Because of my personal journey with physical therapy, I truly resonated with their work. Let me explain. I spent four years doing physical therapy to avoid back surgery. The entire process was inefficient and riddled with self-reporting and guesswork. I thought there had to be a better way – the entrepreneur’s credo!  Access to data, guidance and feedback would have my addressed the problems I faced during my recovery journey.

    The Vision for the company: is to be a category leader in the Digital Physical Therapy market. And, enable everyone to have healthy hands and stay active!

    Who are your Customers / Prospective Customers - What do they do?

    They are patients suffering from neurological and orthopedic hand, wrist and elbow impairments caused by conditions like wrist fractures, stroke, spinal cord injuries, carpal tunnel, tendonitis, arthritis.


    What Solution / Technology are you using to meet your Customers’ needs?

    We solve this problem with our patent-pending TENZR wristband which is capable of tracking the hand. We combine the data from TENZR with a companion app to guide patients through their recovery journeyWe have a couple dozen peer-reviewed publications validating the technology in addition to market validations via clinical publications. Our technology is also enabling/supporting clinical trial research across Canada


    What differentiates your company from the competition? 

    Our real competition is the status quo. This includes lists of exercises; self-reporting and guesswork.

    This does not solve the heart of the problem – patients don’t feel / believe they have the knowledge, guidance or data to take them all the way through to a successful recovery.

    We are disrupting a broken model. When it comes to tracking technologies, our unique sensing capabilities make TENZR the only device capable of tracking the hand using just a wrist-band, without needing data gloves or cameras.

    Our sensing technology can be applied to other joints in the future. Our team members have, and will identify business development opportunities to pursue. We create a fertile and encouraging environment to help them pursue new market opportunities – and share their program and impact with our wider team and community.


    Randy Fisher, MA, BJ,  is a communications and market research professional with experience in business writing, customer interviewing, media relations and storytelling. His experience in customer discovery and validation and education helps firms accelerate adoption and rapidly penetrate new markets.  He teaches business and proposal writing and interview skills at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He began his career in Vancouver and worked as a business journalist with The Globe and Mail, Financial Post and CBC Radio.

  • 28 May 2020 by Randy Fisher


    A conversation with Rahul Samant, CEO of Rehabtronics


    Tell me about yourself and your journey to this point. How did you decide to start the company? 

    I became involved with Rehabtronics, as I longed to once again build a product, to transform discovery into products. I saw an opportunity to have a tremendous impact on the quality of life of people with mobility deficits. I am the CEO of the company and have increased revenues by 70%. I have guided the company into cash-flow positive situation and with 2 consecutive profitable years. 

    Rehabtronics is a spinoff of the University of Alberta’s Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute. It was started to bring state-of-the-art neural interfacing and neural rehabilitation technologies into clinical practice. Our vision has always been that technology-driven innovation will drive sustainable healthcare by more efficiently delivering better outcomes to more patients. Our mission has been to bring state-of-the art neuroscience technology into rehabilitation and expand the clinical settings in which these medical technologies are used. In other words, go beyond the rehabilitation clinic into the home and acute care settings.
    Our first product, the ReJoyce was among the first products to bring gaming and computer-based functional assessment to the world. We followed up the ReTouch, the world’s first touchscreen-based rehabilitation for cognitive, visual, and motor rehabilitation. ReGrasp is a neural prosthetic that restores grasping function (opening and closing the hand). Our products are used by over 500 clinics around the world.

    We became increasingly aware of pressure injuries and the enormous impact they have on health care while working with the patients that use our products - those with impaired mobility and sensation such as people with chronic stroke or spinal cord injury -

    Pressure injuries are among one of the greatest unmet medical needs in health care today. It’s a huge problem – for example, in the US, pressure injuries kill an estimated 60,000 people each year - almost as many as diabetes.

    Pressure injuries are prevalent in all health care settings: from critical care and home care to long-term care. Indeed, 25% of patients in healthcare facilities have a pressure injury. They are among the most common, expensive and deadly hospital acquired illnesses. Despite the impact of pressure injuries, there has been no innovation in this space in 100 years.

    While our understanding of the patho-physiology of pressure injuries has advanced, our approaches to preventing them has not.  21st science explains that pressure injuries form as a result of ischemia and tissue deformation. 

    We realized that the neural interfacing technology platform used in our ReGrasp Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) to restore motor function (based on research at the University of Alberta) - could also be used to prevent pressure injuries.

    We now have a patented technology called Intermittent Electrical Stimulation (IES). We can alter the pathophysiology of pressure injuries by increasing tissue oxygenation and preventing deleterious tissue deformation. No other pressure injury prevention technology does this.

    Our vision is technology-driven sustainable transformation in health care. Our mission is to use neuroscience technology to eliminate deadly pressure injuries.


    Who are your Customers / Prospective Customers - What do they do?

    Pressure injuries are among the most common, expensive and deadly medical complications. In the US, they kill over 60,000 people every year and cost the health care system an estimate $27 B each year. They are seen in all health care settings - critical, acute, rehabilitation, long-term, and home care.

    Pressure injuries are one of the most common hospital-acquired injury. Estimates of pressure injury incidences in hospitals can be as high as 30% in critical care. The average treatment cost of pressure injury is over $30,000. That is if the patient survives - 70% of those that develop a so-called full-thickness pressure injury in a hospital will die within 6 months.

    In the US, hospitals are not reimbursed for hospital-acquired pressure injury expenses - hospitals must pay for the treatment of pressure injuries acquired in their facility. According to the Agency for Quality Health Research (AJRQ), nearly 2.4% of all hospital discharges in the US developed a hospital-acquired pressure injury (HAPI) in 2016.

    It is the only hospital-acquired condition to increase in incidence. It is estimated that HAPIs costs US hospitals $11B per year. Hospitals need more effective means of preventing hospital-acquired pressure injuries in order to capture these costs. For example, a 300-bed hospital in the US will see over 16,000 admissions, nearly 400 HAPI events, and spend approx $10MM+ on treatment.

    Our focus will be in acute and critical care where nearly 30% of patients will develop a pressure injury iin 4-7 days. Moreover, HAPIs are deadly in a a population of critically-ill patients.


    What Solution / Technology are you using to meet your Customers’ needs? 

     Our patented Intermittent Electrical Stimulation (IES).  technology uses a proprietary electrical stimulation protocol to increase and maintain tissue oxygenation - a key factor in the formation of pressure injuries. Animal studies have shown that IES reduces injury volume by 80%. Human studies have demonstrated that IES increases tissue oxygenation by as much as 28% and maintains tissue oxygenation at 20% above baseline. 

    In Alberta, IES was tested on 68 patients – all of whom were considered at-risk of developing a pressure ulcer. IES was found to be easy-to-use by nurses; and easy to deploy (even in complex environments such as critical and acute care). Most importantly, no pressure injuries were observed in any of the 68 high risk patients.


    What differentiates your company from the competition?

    Despite the magnitude of the problem, there has been very little technology innovation in pressure ulcer prevention. While the market is mature and there are many products in this space, they invariably fall into one of two approaches: (1) Patient Turning (developed in 1800s); or (2) Pressure Redistribution Mattress (mid-1900s)

    21st century modern science has enabled us to have a much better understanding of how pressure injuries form.

    They start deep inside tissue as a deep tissue injury (DTI). As pressure is applied to soft tissue, especially over bony-prominences, it deforms the tissue and restricts blood-flow - causing ischemia. In as little as 1 hour, a DTI begins to form. Over the next several days, the DTI grows from the inside out until it breaks the skin.

    In either case, there are no products on the market that prevent pressure ulcers by altering the pathophysiology of ischemia and mechanical stress and promoting blood circulation, tissue oxygenation and tissue reformation. Patient Turning - where nurses turn patients every 2 hours to temporarily relieve pressure, was first started in the 1850s. The practice continues to today. However, it requires significant nursing time (i.e., at least 2 nurses 10 minutes every 2 hours and as many as 5 nurses 30 min every 2 hours).


    It is also the Top Cause of work-related injuries to professional nursing staff.

    Relieving the pressure on the patient, while helpful, is not sufficient to restore health oxygenation to the tissue at risk. Additionally, tissue oxygenation can become depleted in a matter of minutes and a pressure ulcer may develop in less than 1 hour.

    Pressure redistribution is achieved by using mattresses made of foam, air or gel. The mattresses spread (redistribute) the pressure. However, like with Patient Turning, this fails to bring blood, oxygen and nutrients into the tissue.

    These beds are very expensive, and many hospitals rent them. Moreover, a specialized bed can often take days to arrive. In the meantime, the patient has already developed a pressure injury – creating a painful, expensive and difficult problem to solve for all involved: the patient, nursing staff and the hospital.


    Randy Fisher, MA, BJ,  is a communications and market research professional with experience in business writing, customer interviewing, media relations and storytelling. His experience in customer discovery and validation and education helps firms accelerate adoption and rapidly penetrate new markets. He teaches business and proposal writing and interview skills at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He began his career in Vancouver and worked as a business journalist with The Globe and Mail, Financial Post and CBC Radio.

  • 28 May 2020 by Randy Fisher

    PathMaker’s MyoRegulator device for the treatment of muscle spasticity. 

    A conversation with Nader Yaghoubi, President, CEO and Co-Founder of PathMaker Neurosystems


    Tell me about yourself and your journey to this point. How did you decide to start the company?

    I graduated from the combined MD/PhD degree program at Boston University School of Medicine, and did my Ph.D. in Neuropharmacology, where my dissertational work was in single-cell electrophysiology and ligand-gated ion channels.

    After entering the surgical residency program at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, I realized my real interests were for early-stage technology development. I pivoted to a track where I’ve been focused on early-stage investing and company formation – I’ve been doing that for 20 years.

    Along the way, I met Dr. Zaghloul Ahmed, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Physical Therapy at City University of New York. He was pioneering breakthrough multi-site neuromodulation techniques for the treatment of serious neurological conditions. I saw how his revolutionary approach could change the standard of care for millions of patients worldwide.

    We founded PathMaker Neurosystems to bring this non-invasive, painless technology to patients who need it - and who are otherwise forced to rely on uncomfortable, invasive, unsafe and unreliable treatment options. We recently decoded the molecular mechanism of action of our multi-site stimulation technology, a world-first across all neuromodulation technologies.

    Our first product, MyoRegulator®, is the world’s first neuromodulation device for the non-invasive treatment of spasticity, a debilitating condition found in people with SCI, stroke, multiple sclerosis, brain injury and cerebral palsy.

    Last year, we published our first human feasibility study showing clinical efficacy in post-stroke patients. We are working to bring this product to market as soon as possible.

    Our second device, ALSuppressor™, is the first neuromodulation device for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and represents a groundbreaking advancement in the treatment of this fatal neurodegenerative disease.

    PathMaker Neurosystems is making strides in understanding and improving the treatment of serious neurological disorders. It is leading the way towards the wide use of non-invasive neuromodulation systems that replace the need for drugs or surgery.


    Who are your Customers / Prospective Customers - What do they do?

    Our devices will be used by clinicians in hospitals, medical offices and rehabilitation or spasticity clinics. They treat patients with neurological disorders such as spasticity with limited and often non-optimal treatment options. The first line of treatment consists of either oral medications (baclofen, tizanidine) or botulinum neurotoxin injections, which often have significant undesirable effects. Other more invasive treatments options include: implantation of an intrathecal baclofen pump, or surgical procedures that cut tendons or nerves. None of these treatment options are simultaneously painless, non-invasive and efficacious. We provide clinicians with a strong alternative to drugs or surgery with our non-invasive neuromodulation products, so they can take care of their patients without these drawbacks.


    What Solution / Technology are you using to meet your Customers’ needs?

    Our breakthrough non-invasive neuromodulation technology was originally developed by Dr. Zaghloul Ahmed. We demonstrated its efficacy in a mouse model of spasticity and described the molecular mechanism behind its effects in a mouse model of spinal cord injury.

    In 2019 we published the results of a pilot trial in upper-limb post-stroke spasticity, and showed that five consecutive 20-minute daily treatments with MyoRegulator® significantly lowered spasticity levels and improved motor function for up to five weeks after the end of treatment.

    Today, a pivotal randomized, sham-controlled European trial is ongoing at the Paris Brain Institute and sponsored by INSERM. Clinicians and physicians want to see proof of efficacy and safety before adopting a new treatment into their practice, so we are building a strong case for our technology before entering the market.


    What differentiates your company from the competition?

    PathMaker Neurosystems has pioneered a new field of multi-site neuromodulation.  We have 35 issued patents protecting our technology and products globally.  We are the only company developing non-invasive neuromodulation products for the treatment of spasticity and ALS. The best opportunities are coming to us organically by stakeholders who are realizing who realize the impact of our current and future products. They understand the commercialization potential and the paradigm-shift in clinical practice.


    Randy Fisher, MA, BJ,  is a communications and market research professional with experience in business writing, customer interviewing, media relations and storytelling. His experience in customer discovery and validation and education helps firms accelerate adoption and rapidly penetrate new markets. He teaches business and proposal writing and interview skills at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He began his career in Vancouver and worked as a business journalist with The Globe and Mail, Financial Post and CBC Radio.