Written by Youssef Helwa (BASc ‘15)
I am Youssef Helwa, the CEO and co-founder of NERv. I am a University of Waterloo Nanotechnology Engineering graduate with extensive experience in the field of biosensors and microfabrication. NERv is one of the first members of the Velocity Science program. It aims to develop its sensors to one day eliminate the anxiety and worry associated with the occurrence of post-operative complications and the dangers associated with it.
NERv is a Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology (WIN) startup; it is developing a biochip to detect post-operative complications. NERv’s implantable biochip consists of multiple biosensors that are aimed towards detecting abdominal post-operative complications, such as dangerous inflammations, internal bleeding, bacterial infection, ischemia, and internal leakages.
Ever since I can remember, my mom would come back home from work looking worried and anxious. She worried about the surgical procedure that she had done earlier in the day and whether her patient would be potentially suffering from a complication after the surgery. She would never be sure if the patient is suffering from any potential problem because of the surgery she had just performed. As a result, I decided to use my university experience and everything I had learned to try to eliminate this problem.
During my undergraduate period here at the University of Waterloo, I started seeing how entrepreneurship and startups here were growing. I could see that the Waterloo region was booming as an entrepreneurial society and I could see the immense amount of support that the region was offering to startups here. This encouraged me to further develop my idea into a potential startup where I can build a future for myself and improve the general healthcare system here in Canada.
My co-founder, Amr Abdelgawad, is a 4th year Nanotechnology Engineering student here at the University of Waterloo. I have known Amr ever since his first year and we have been partners in everything we do. I knew Amr has a great potential as an engineer and as an entrepreneur, and I knew he would be a great fit for the team. His expertise and skill set would fit exactly with what NERv was hoping to accomplish and as a result, he became the co-founder who helped me build NERv to the startup that it is today. NERv has been around for almost two years now and has since managed to raise a lot of funds to maintain its growth through government-related funds, pitch competitions, and university grants.
I would advise aspiring entrepreneurs here at UWaterloo to never give up on their ideas and to always work hard in order to succeed at what they are doing. They also need to take advantage of the facilities that are offered here at the university and the Waterloo-Kitchener region; they offer a lot of support and funding to emerging startups.