The pill has given women a huge level of control over their lives. But it also requires daily diligence, as it’s yet another task to fit into already packed schedules. A new device, created by a team of U of T students is designed to help women put “control” back into their birth control. Pillsy is a smart pill pouch that syncs to your smartphone. It knows if and when you take a pill, and so it can give you timely reminders and advice. One of the students, Courtney R. Smith is an MPH candidate at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. She spoke with Faculty of Medicine writer Carolyn Morris about the product.
It was a social weekend for University of Toronto master’s student Hillary Chan – but far from a relaxing one. She and over 90 people she had never met arrived at a conference room in the MaRS Discover District on a Friday in early September, where they were told to form teams. Chan, who is doing a master’s in translational research in health science, joined forces with Erica Tiberia and Hongbo Wu both MSc candidates in Medical Biophysics, as well as an industrial design student from OCAD and a layperson with an interest in technology and health. Armed with ideas, skills, access to industry mentors and a kit containing two motors and a programming platform, they were given 34 hours to build a robot that could improve health.
With a week left before Hult Prize finals at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting, U of T’s Team Attollo is gaining momentum, finding partners in India and Africa and picking up interest from educational organizations.
The innovation driving all the excitement? That’s “Talking Stickers,” the system created by the team to improve literacy for impoverished children around the world.
One of only six teams left from more than 20,000 entrants in the world’s largest student competition on global challenges, the social entrepreneurs developed a handheld scanner called ollo which uses stickers with QR codes to bring words to life through songs, nursery rhymes and short stories. It’s been attracting media attention locally and in developing countries around the world where they’ve been testing the product.
A more reliable way to remember birth control pills, a single tool that fixes most bike problems, and a satellite communications network that can help ensure tragedies like the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 never happen again.
Students from across U of T Engineering pitched these and 10 other startup ideas at this year’s Hatchery Demo Day last Thursday, vying for $42,500 in seed funding and the chance to see their ideas boosted toward commercialization.
“You have made us proud, you have delivered and you have raised the bar once again,” said Joseph Orozco, executive director of The Entrepreneurship Hatchery at U of T Engineering. “Today is the culmination of a rigorous journey, but what you’ve started is just the beginning.”
The University of Toronto has joined forces with the Government of Ontario, the MaRS Discovery District and Johnson & Johnson Innovation to establish the first JLABS incubator in Canada.
Formally called JLABS @ Toronto, the 40,000-square-foot facility will occupy a floor of the MaRS West Tower and accommodate up to 50 startups dedicated to the biomedical sciences. Primary users are expected to be young researchers and entrepreneurs who have made significant discoveries and can benefit not only from state-of-the-art laboratory space but also from access to senior researchers, industry consultants and capital funding partners.
“Research and innovation are fundamental to the mission of the University of Toronto,” said President Meric Gertler. “We host a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem featuring nine campus-led accelerators under the umbrella of our Banting & Best Centre for Innovation & Entrepreneurship.
“The addition of JLABS will further propel the creation of new companies and new jobs, and ultimately new healthcare solutions that will benefit individuals and society for years to come.”
The University of Toronto announced on September 3 an expanded partnership with MaRS, which will provide much needed laboratory space for researchers. The partnership also takes advantage of the dynamic networks MaRS has developed to support student entrepreneurship and the translation of U of T discoveries into new therapies.
Marissa Wu continues to grow her smart-watch sports coaching startup, Onyx Motion, as she shuttles between New York basketball courts, Rocky Mountain startup retreats, and her office in the heart of Toronto’s thriving wearable tech scene.