Images of people with assistive devices

Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology (CBB) Praxis Grant Competition


A graduate student from the University of Waterloo that has the most promising innovative project to improve the lives of individuals with spinal cord injury (SCI) will be selected from a pool of applicants and supported as follows:

  • $25,000 CAD;
  • Business planning in parallel with R&D, in consultation with Concept by Velocity;
  • Coordination of an application for Mitacs funding.

Expectations and Terms of Funding:

  1. Develop prototype and lab-scale technology (TRL 4-6) into minimal viable products (TRL 6-8);
  2. Create a graduate student led spin-out company;
  3. Funds will support the student for one (1) year and accelerate the formation of a spin-out company;
  4. Graduate student/Spin-out will send a report to the Centre for Bioengineering and Biotechnology (CBB) and Praxis every quarter outlining progress on key metrics (e.g. minimum viable product progress, Business Plan draft, pilot data on the technology R&D, patent, incorporation, etc.);
  5. A final report will be submitted at the end of one year;
  6. The spin-out company will apply for Velocity and later Praxis’ Accelerator for continued support.

Applicant demographic:

One (1) graduate student and one (1) faculty professor are the ideal team, the graduate student will act as the driver and entrepreneur.

Application process:

Please email with a (i) maximum two page (ii).docx or .pdf file (iii) addressing the following #1-11.

Applications will be accepted until June 22, 2020 at 11:30 pm; the successful applicant(s) will be announced July 8, 2020.

  1. Name, title, affiliation, email and phone number of the applicant(s)
  2. What is the problem or issue being addressed for the population suffering from spinal cord injuries? (e.g. Neuropathic pain, Neuro-restoration, Bladder and Bowel related complications, Sexual function, Pressure injuries, Quality of Life, Independent Living, Other – please specify)
  3. What is the potential impact of the technology?
  4. What is your technology’s TRL? (Technology Readiness Level – Innovation)
  5. Explain what makes your product unique in the market in one sentence.
  6. What other markets (types of patients, diagnoses) will your product benefit?
  7. Will you or have you patented/copyright your technology?
  8. Do you plan to spin-out your technology into a start-up company? How will you achieve this goal?
  9. What is your strategy for seeking subsequent support?
  10. What are the three (3) key objectives of your technology development and company creation in the Spring 2021 (e.g. Concept by Velocity consultation, End-user consultation, research and product development, incorporation, patenting, Velocity membership, validation, pilot, etc.)
  11. What do you need help with over the next year? Prioritize the answers below by giving them a score from 1-7 (do not repeat)
    1. Validation and traction with end-users (SCI community)
    2. Research expertise, advisory and networks
    3. Business planning
    4. Introduction to Business-Business buyers in the US and Canada (hospitals, insurance providers, payers)
    5. Regulatory and reimbursement advice
    6. Exposure to angel and VC investors in the US and Canada
    7. Other, please elaborate.

Project examples:

The following is a wide list of examples that capture potential solution applications for the SCI community and people living with SCI. This list is included to encourage innovation around the project and is by no means exclusive or exhaustive.

  • Device/method of scanning reprocessed medical devices to ensure that there is no bioburden remaining
  • Chronic shoulder/wrist pain due to daily manual wheelchair use and repetitive strain injuries
  • Functional e-stim device to be used by those individuals with SCI; i.e. must be quadriplegic friendly
  • Organization of IV lines and indwelling tubes to avoid entanglement of multiple life-support and monitoring lines during movement, access, transfer and rolling of individuals with SCI
  • Communication methods for intubated patients as they are often unable to vocalize; for individuals with very limited/no hand function and possibly no neck movement (due to spinal precautions or weakness)
  • Reliable access to call bells and other controls (mouth suction, etc.)
  • Solution for difficulty brushing teeth
  • Device/software that tracks rehabilitation activities and their resulting impact on function
  • Device/software to prevent pressure injuries, optimize spasticity and/or facilitate physical activity

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