Medella Health is the only Canadian entry to make 2016 International Dyson Award Shortlist

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Medella Health co-founders

A smart glucose level monitoring contact lens developed by University of Waterloo students is the only Canadian entry to make the shortlist in this year’s international James Dyson Award competition.

Medella Health, co-founded in 2013 by alumnus Maarij Baig and Thiel Fellowship recipient Harry Gandhi both from the Faculty of Science and Nanotechnology Engineering alumnus Huayi Gao. Nanotechnology Engineering is a shared program between the Faculties of Science and Engineering.

Medella Health's smart contact lens continuously monitors glucose levels in tear film for diabetes management. The information collected is sent to a user’s mobile phone so the diabetic can better manage glucose levels throughout the day.

“Growing up a fan of science fiction, I was intrigued by exploring the unknown with technology,” says Gao. “A smart contact lens can not only help monitor our health, but also display it in real time for us to see. As we explore this vast unknown territory of human health bit by bit, we can eventually start to take preventative measures and stay tuned with our body."

Medella Health currently includes 15 experts in nanotechnology, health IT, micro-electronics and micro-fabrication. The company operates out of the University’s Velocity Garage in downtown Kitchener.

The company recently announced it had raised $1.4 million in seed funding and hopes to begin clinical testing of the smart contact lens next year.

A Waterloo three-peat

It is the third year in a row that companies started by University of Waterloo students or recent graduates have been named to the shortlist.

Last year, Voltera was the first Canadian company to win the top award, beating out 710 entries from 20 countries. The year before, Velocity Science company Suncayr was the first Canadian company to ever make the international shortlist and went on to be a runner up for the 2014 award.

This year’s shortlist of 20 announced September 28 was whittled down from 100 finalists representing 22 countries.  The international winner will be announced on October 27. 

Open to university students and recent alumni in the fields of product design, industrial design and engineering, the James Dyson Award is an international challenge to design something that solves a problem, created by the British inventor of the Dyson vacuum cleaner.