April 1, 2021

Four new businesses are poised to improve health and drive economic diversification

Life Sciences Cohort 3 Fellows ready to translate knowledge into impact

Calgary is home to cutting-edge life sciences research and several game-changing startups, including those spearheaded by fellows in the Life Sciences Fellowship. The program, activated by the Life Sciences Innovation Hub and Innovate Calgary, recently welcomed its third fellowship cohort. These four fellow-led Life Science startups will champion their inventions in the fields of surgical tools, seed crop technologies, wearable technologies, and surgical training tools using extended reality.

After working in clinical practice for several years, Dr. Alex Chee, MD, a passionate respirologist, observed a need to reduce complications associated with chest tube insertion that can result in significant organ damage and even death. Along with colleagues Dr. Wiley Chung, MD, and Dr. Sumesh Thomas, MD, Chee founded Smart Biomedical Corp to create a smart device that will enable practitioners and first responders to accurately and precisely place an emergency tube, reducing complications and saving lives.

“Providing high-tech careers and diversifying our economy is critical to our province. Commercializing the world-class ideas of our researchers will build on our momentum as a leader in life sciences and pharmaceuticals. We are proud to support the Life Sciences Fellowship program,” says Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer.

"Even though I have technical expertise, I knew we needed business training for our company and product to be successful. Having access to the Life Sciences Innovation Hub and the expert advisers made the decision to participate in the Life Sciences Fellowship an easy one," says Chee.

About the Life Sciences Fellowship

The Life Sciences Fellowship aims to improve Alberta's health and economy by providing outstanding life science researchers and practitioners the resources to develop their product or service and bring it to market. This two-year program provides fellows with financial and business development support, access to labs and office space at the Life Sciences Innovation Hub, and invaluable hands-on entrepreneurial experience.

The Life Sciences’ Fellowship is supported by $3.5 million in funding from Calgary Economic Development's Opportunity Calgary Investment Fund, Jobs, Economy and Innovation, and Alberta Innovates. The Life Sciences Innovation Hub, including equipped lab space available to Life Sciences Fellows, was established thanks in part to $3.1 million in federal funding through Western Economic Diversification Canada.

"We are excited to support these promising new startups to elevate the local entrepreneurial capacity and drive economic and health impact for Albertans," says Jane Desrochers, Life Sciences Fellowship program lead, Innovate Calgary.

Life Sciences Fellows third cohort

Dr. Logan Skori, PhD

Skori's company, AgGene, is an agriculture biotechnology company focused on improving plant tissue protein using advanced genomics and molecular plant breeding techniques such as gene editing. They also aim to make crops more climate-resilient by collaborating with other agriculture companies and independent plant breeders.

Neil Christensen, MSc

Christensen's company, Vital XR Ltd., seeks to create the ideal advanced simulated learning environment for medical and critical care training. Using 3D printing and life-like cast materials to replicate human body tissue, an ultra-realistic mannequin is combined with high-resolution augmented (AR) and virtual (VR) reality to create a gamified learning platform.

Dr. David Rosenegger, PhD

Rosenegger's company, SenseSi Technology, is developing a wearable device for the fast and accurate measurement of stress levels, allowing users to be informed and take control.

Explore more life sciences fellows including the first and second cohort.

The Life Sciences Innovation Hub supports research-intensive companies to deliver commercially viable products and services to market, by providing access to world-class infrastructure, expertise, and startup services.