Medella Health wins National James Dyson Award; Arylla and Penta Medical named Runners Up

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Harry Gandhi

Medella Health, founded by former Science and Business student Harry Gandhi won the National James Dyson Award for developing a contact lens that will revolutionize how diabetics monitor their blood sugar. 

Velocity Science companies Arylla and Penta Medical were named National Runner Ups for their anti-counterfeit nano ink and infrared wearables.

Seeing diabetes differently

Medella Health has developed a smart contact lens that continuously monitors the blood glucose levels in the tear fluid of patients with diabetes. This non-invasive, easy to use and real-time monitoring system is worn like a normal contact lens.

You put it on in the morning, just like a normal contact lens, take it off at night, clean it in the exact same way you would with a normal contact lens," Gandhi said. "It's that simple.

Using nanotechnology, these lenses transmit data to the patient’s mobile device through a small wearable clip – allowing them to take immediate action to manage their diabetes. The contact lenses can be used by both hypoglycemic and hyperglycemic patients.

The paired mobile device also has the ability to store patient information regarding their blood glucose levels, diet management and overall trends in diabetes management. 

We want to flip the medical system on its head – turning it from a reactive model to a preventative one,” says Medella Health founder and CEO Harry Gandhi. "It's a deeper way of being able to understand our health.

This plethora of information will help health care providers make evidence-based medical decisions, leading to better recommendations and earlier detection.

In future the company will expand the use of these lenses to measure other biomarkers.

Gandhi, a 2015 Thiel Fellowship recipient, has been an integral member of Waterloo’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. He helped co-found Velocity Science and was involved in iGEM. Entrepreneurs like Gandhi have helped entrepreneurship grow in the Faculty of Science. 

Nano ink and infrared wearables named Runner's Up

Two Velocity Science companies Arylla and Penta Medical were named National Runners Up in the competition.

Velocity Science company Arylla Inc.

Arylla has developed a nano ink that allows consumers to check if the product they are buying is counterfeit using their cell phone.

Our ink changes colour under certain light conditions and you capture that change of light on your smart phone camera,” explains co-founder Perry Everett. “The image file is converted into an identifier code through an algorithm we’ve developed and it cross references with a database of our inks to authenticate products.

Their biocompatible, non-toxic and eco-friendly ink can be used on packaging for electronics, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and even food. 

Food fraud and counterfeit crop protection products are growing concerns. The annual market of illegal and counterfeit crop protection products is $6.75 billion worldwide. Consumers want to know that the food they are buying matches what is stated on the label.

Seafood is one the biggest problems but Arylla's ink will allow consumers to verify the quality of the products that can't be determined visually or even by taste.

This could be a quick and easy counterfeit solution – its cost will be lower, and it will be faster than existing anti-counterfeiting technologies,” said Everett. “The ink is the first go-to material our technology is based on but maybe we could possibly also extrude into plastics.

Penta Medical, founded by Biomedical Sciences student Alexa Roeper, is developing wearable infrared therapy devices to speed up healing from an injury.

Penta Medical hand product design

Americans lose $6.7 billion each year due to injuries, yet less than a third of people who start physiotherapy treatments will finish their sessions due to the cost and inconvenience.

Penta Medical's technology not only help you heal faster but it is also antibacterial, decreasing the chances of infection unlike with other fibers. 

Their product uses infrared technology on a wearable fabric that increases the blood circulation of the patient. The designs were created with the comfort of the patient in mind and use a fiber that is ergonomic and fashionable.

Waterloo companies compete on the global stage

Next, all three Waterloo companies plus two other Canadian companies will compete against 105 other companies from 22 countries for a chance to win the International James Dyson Competition. The shortlist for the International James Dyson Award will be announced on September 29th. 

The James Dyson Award is run by the James Dyson Foundation and is an international competition that challenges youth to design something to solve a problem.