Joined at the hip
Engineering grad inspired by his father to create surgical tool that will be in orthopedic surgeons’ hands next year.
Engineering grad inspired by his father to create surgical tool that will be in orthopedic surgeons’ hands next year.By Janet Janes Office of Research
When Armen Bakirtzian watched his father replace a patient’s hip, the orthopedic surgeon explained to his son that tools used to align the joints were time-consuming and costly.
So when Bakirtzian was a fourth-year mechatronics engineering student at the University Waterloo, he began work on a tool that would help orthopedic surgeons like his father align joints more accurately.
Bakirtzian and his fellow classmates, Richard Fanson and Andre Hladio, wanted to design technology that would avoid misalignment which leads to pain and more surgery for patients.
Upon graduation, the three launched Avenir Medical Inc. and now the technology they created, PelvAssistTM, will be in the hands of a select group of surgeons next year.
“We received feedback that validates the need,” says Bakirtzian. “Orthopedic surgeons found it very interesting and valuable and we want to get it out into the market as soon as possible.”
Similar to using a level to ensure accurate placement of a shelf, PelvAssistTM provides surgeons with an intelligent instrument to avoid misalignment that can lead to not only more surgery and pain but also instability of the hip joint and change in leg length.
The Avenir Medical team worked closely with world-renowned surgeons which contributed significantly to its success. The relationship with surgeons helped the Avenir Medical team better understand the market and develop a product that meets a need.
National entrepreneur awards
Avenir Medical Inc. has been recognized for its innovation through several awards. They include being named Best Innovative Business by the 2012 Canadian Youth Business Foundation Chairman’s Awards, as well as several provincial and federal government funding programs such as a $60,000 Scientists and Engineers in Business Fellowship.
The fellowship is a University of Waterloo program supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to promising entrepreneurs who want to commercialize their innovations and start high-tech businesses.
In addition, Bakirtzian was selected to represent Canada at the G20 Young Entrepreneur Alliance Summits in 2011, 2012, and 2013. He was also nominated for Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year for 2013.
Bakirtzian says entrepreneurship has provided a tremendous learning experience and he would recommend it to others considering the same career path.
“It’s unparalleled to anything else I’ve ever been involved in,” he says.