Digital health solution and pioneering medical treatment win SFU Beedie science and tech venture competition

Oct 19, 2018

The third annual Venture Pitch Competition at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business.

An advanced fuel cell technology, a treatment for arthritis, and a wearable massage device were among the ventures pitched to a panel of industry judges at the third annual Venture Pitch Competition at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business.

The event, which took place on October 10, 2018, brought together five scientist-entrepreneurship students in the third cohort of the invention to Innovation (i2I) program at SFU Beedie’s Segal Graduate School. This graduate certificate program equips scientists and engineers with the business skills required to make their inventions a commercial success.

The competitors pitched their ventures to a panel of industry judges, all of whom have extensive experience in successful entrepreneurship and science-based ventures. The winner in the Emergent Ventures category was Elena Groppa’s Promotus, which is developing a drug to treat the rare disease Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

“I could not be more satisfied about this past year, because I have acquired the knowledge and tools to complete my work as scientist”, says Groppa. “Now I am not only able to produce science, but I have the entrepreneurship mindset to transform my scientific findings into a product that could reach the market.”

Elena Groppa and Andrew Park, the two category winners at the Venture Pitch Competition

The Product Ready Ventures category was won by Andrew Park’s Coral Health, which has developed an artificial intelligence and blockchain powered tech solution with broad applications, automating administrative functions in the healthcare industry.

The first product that the company is bringing to market is a mobile phone application allowing US patients to access their aggregated health records on their personal devices. It expects to follow this with potentially even larger scale valued-added products targeting the health system and hospital sectors.

“The i2I program was instrumental in providing me and my classmates the requisite knowledge and connections to turn a scientific invention into a viable business venture,” says Park.

“I’m tremendously excited about the potential the program has in unlocking the value BC scientists and engineers intrinsically possess in their discoveries. They just need a push in the right direction and the i2I program precisely fills that need.”

The i2I program was created by SFU Beedie Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship Dr. Elicia Maine, with the intention of tapping into the latent innovation potential of Canadian universities, by bringing more breakthrough innovations out of the lab and into the marketplace.

“We are excited about the development of our Invention to Innovation cohorts, and continue to attract exceptionally talented scientists and engineers into the 11-month program,” says Maine.

“This year, we are piloting a ‘Science Commercialization Scholar’ initiative with MITACS, modelled after the I-Corps funding through the US National Science Foundation. This funding has enabled five high potential scientists-entrepreneurs to develop and adapt their innovation ideas through the i2I program.”


Emergent Ventures

  • Sasan Ebrahimi is founder of MFC Corporation, producing an energy conversion device that converts chemical energy directly into electricity with noticeably higher efficiency compared to current fuel cells. Sasan has an M.Sc. degree in energy engineering, and he is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Mechatronics System Engineering here at SFU.
  • Elena Groppa has developed a first in class therapeutic to treat Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. She has a PhD in Vascular Biology and Cell and Gene Theraphy from the University of Basel, Switzerland, and is currently working on her Postdoc in Regenerative Medicine at UBC.
  • Avid Khamenehfar is the Chief Technology Officer at Extem Bioscience Corp., which produces a medical device to advance personalized regenerative medicine. Avid received her PhD in Bioanalytical Chemistry from SFU. From her PhD research, she has a filed patent based on her research in microfluidic technology.

Product Ready Ventures

  • Andrew Park runs Coral Health, which provides AI powered solutions to accelerate care delivery, automate multiparty administrative processes and improve health outcomes. He has worked in the biotechnology and software industries for several years and has a solid understanding of the interplay between scientific discovery and business processes.
  • Shahram Pourazadi’s venture, Relaxopeutic, produces an unobtrusive, battery operated, massaging garment to improve blood circulation in the lower leg. Shahram has an M.A.Sc. degree in Mechatronics and Mechanical Engineering from UBC and currently is a sixth year PhD candidate in School of Mechatronics Systems and Engineering Science at SFU. Besides his PhD research, for the past three years, Shahram has been a Research Scientist in two growing Start-up companies in Metro Vancouver, Advanced intelligent Systems Inc. and Picker Drones Inc. both of which are active in the field of autonomous robotics.


  • Geof Auchinleck, CEO, Claris Healthcare Inc
  • Jeanette Jackson, Managing Director, Foresight Cleantech Acceleration Centre
  • Betsabeh Madani, Executive in Residence, Innovation Boulevard, and Senior Advisor, Novateur Ventures
  • Elisabeth Maurer, Chief Technology Officer, LightIntegra Technology Inc.
  • David Nauman, Partner, BLG