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Sharon MacLeanThe day was like a Dragon’s Den for clinical scientists.

Most of the nine presenters to a recent Discovery Lab advisory panel devoted decades to their investigations for the betterment of society. The forum for academics, start-ups, and entrepreneurs was co-founded by Michael Overduin and Cameron Smithers from the University of Alberta where 150 companies present in person to Discovery Lab Advisors.

Overduin’s passion for the Discovery Lab, with his team of 12 enthusiasts, is another labour of love for the biochemistry professor. While the clinician is part of an international team that shed light on how cancerous cells differ from healthy ones, he also invented a board game called Geopowr to help people learn about the energy sector.

Discovery Lab's Michael Overduin

Michael Overduin

“We [Discovery Lab] assist spin-outs, start-ups, and companies find the support and expertise needed to launch, grow or rethink their plans,” said the academic-entrepreneur. “Many return for further advice once they’ve made progress and approach investability.”

The co-founders have held similar presentations at in-person events over the last three years – until COVID-19 when they moved online. There is no cost for those who pitch to gain guidance and support from a panel of advisors.

Among the presenters were:

Lenica Research Group Inc.

I confess to a strong interest in neuroplasticity and Simba Nyazika delivers a deeper understanding of how the brain works. Simba, formerly a behaviour consultant with a specialty in autism, believes in a future with no mental health impairment.

Wrap your thoughts around this next number.

Simba Nyazika prresented at Discovery Lab

Simba Nyazika

The World Health Organization estimates two billion people live today with some form of cognitive impairment. That’s a third of the world’s population with a mental health issue related to stroke, ADHD, depression, dementia and so on.

“This was our second pitch to the Discovery Lab,” said Simba.

“The first panel suggested we narrow our focus and to develop the most sustainable business model,” added Simba. “The second Panel recommended that we show how the products work and to gather testimonials.”

This company founder with degrees in psychology and neuroscience chose to concentrate on professional athletes. The monitoring kit is comprised of three components:

  • VR Headset purchased for under $20 from Google
  • Lenica app for Apple and Android devices with a modest monthly or annual subscription fee
  • Wearable Watch from Edmonton-based Health Gauge led by Randy Duguay and Bruce Matichuk

Lenica wants to give hope to families dealing with the stress and anxiety of cognitive impairments. A good mission.

2S Water

This company appealed to the engineers on the Advisory Panel who immediately understood the application to mining, oil and gas, and municipalities.

“I appreciated those people who grasped the concept so quickly,” said Anthea Sargeaunt. “They reinforced our assumptions around risk.”

Anthea Sargeaunt

Anthea Sargeaunt

Trained as an accountant, Anthea comes from a family business. Allan R. Nelson Engineering was started by her grandfather and sprouted five other companies in electronics, property management, and management services.

Yet she and father, Tony, were restless. Now 36, Anthea wanted to start a legacy business that focused more on environmental concerns rather than fossil fuels.

As part of their start-up research, the daughter-father team drove to 35 municipalities in Alberta for interviews with front-line workers in the oil field and rig design. She’s got a solid network now due to that groundwork. Prospective clients came to appreciate how the new technology monitors – in real-time – metals released by boilers coughed back up to clog their machinery. They plan to start with lithium companies throughout North America.

Anthea is a busy mother of two young children and a basket of awards from the world of business in Alberta.


Alireza Bahramian

Alireza Bahramian

Another example is Alireza Bahramian, a Visiting Professor from Iran at the University of Calgary, presented ofBrain (the company does not yet have a website). He’s been studying the properties of interfacial water and biological fluids – read teardrops – for years.

Bahramian is looking into how disease is signaled before the symptoms appear, starting with Parkinson’s. The scientist also is using machine learning to build the largest data bank of clinical studies in the world which holds tremendous interest for users on multiple levels. He was looking for investors, partners and business advisors – any business help – to get his idea launched for the greater good.


Mike Stewart

Mike Stewart

Finally, Michael Stewart founded IMBiotechologies delivered another impressive pitch to the group of advisors.

His core technology treats solid malignant tumors and benign tumors or hypertrophic/hyperplastic tissue by shutting off the blood supply to a target tissue – such as osteoarthritis in the knee … liver cancer … uterine fibroids…and enlarged prostates.

Ask your doc for this treatment for your knee if your latest cortisone shot doesn’t work.

Sharon MacLean is founder of WorldGate Media.

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