MME Alumnus startup earns Health Canada approval for device to treat stroke victims

Friday, February 11, 2022

Michael Phillips and Phil Cooper
Michael Phillips and Phil Cooper, the two co-founders of Vena Medical, announced their first government approval this week for a device to remove blood clots from the brains of stroke patients. The inflatable balloon temporarily restricts blood flow while surgeons use tools to remove the clot, increasing the chances of success on the first attempt. Advantages over existing, separate devices include better patient outcomes and reduced costs.

Vena Medical was co-founded by these two Waterloo MME Engineering graduates to commercialize their fourth-year design project. They were classmates in the mechanical engineering program when they were inspired at an on-campus talk. While working at the Velocity incubator at the University of Waterloo, Phillips and Cooper won a grant of $50,000 in backing for their startup. The pair expects to work towards U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval later this year. With its Canadian license in hand, Vena is initially collaborating with hospitals in Ontario with the goal of starting a pilot project to use the device in operating rooms.