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There’s a lot of benefits to being in Sudbury, Ontario; it’s a supportive community... and we’ve had a lot of success recruiting talent.

The Sudbury, Ontario-based start-up was selected to join the 2019 MedTech Innovator Accelerator showcase

Flosonics Medical is delivering big innovation in a small package, shrinking an ultrasound machine into the size of a bandage. The Sudbury, Ontario based medtech start-up has invented the FloPatch, an IoT-connected wearable blood flow monitor, which gives critical real-time information to doctors, paramedics and nurses.

CEO and co-founder, Dr. Joe Eibl

“With the FloPatch, we can understand how the heart is working on a beat to beat basis,” explains CEO and co-founder, Dr. Joe Eibl. “Currently this is measured in the ICU, but we want to give this information to medical professionals much earlier, so they can make better informed decisions for their patient.”

The idea for the FloPatch came out of a conversation Eibl had with a former college roommate who had gone into medicine, Dr. Jon-Emile Kenny. “Jon was visiting me and told me about some ideas he had for non-invasive blood flow monitoring, this was something I was looking at in my post-doc studies,” says Eibl. “I felt like I had an understanding of how to turn the idea into a technology, and the clinical need was there.”

The benefit to patients and medical professionals is immense. “It’s a lower cost solution, a single-use application, and can be connected to a smartphone,” Eibl says. “It turns the ultrasound cart into a wearable technology. What used to take up to 25 minutes of work now takes three seconds.” He adds that this is particularly critical for remote communities across Canada that don’t have access to ICUs.

Northern roots

When Eibl returned to Sudbury for his doctoral studies, he found a supportive and innovative start-up community. “I was born and raised here, so starting a business here is putting down roots,” he says.

“Coming from a science background, you don’t necessarily have training on how to run a business though,” Eibl says. Enter NORCAT, a centre for developing innovation in Northern Ontario that provides resources and connections for entrepreneurs to start, grow and scale their ventures. “In my case, I had an idea for my product, but I had no idea how to start a business – raising financing, shareholders agreements, incorporation – all of that. So I went to NORCAT.”

“You can go there and say ‘I want to start a business,’ and they will set you up with a mentor, connections to legal counsel, and seed financing to help you develop a prototype and file a patent,” Eibl explains. “In our case they also introduced us to angel investors.”

“There’s a lot of benefits to being in Sudbury, Ontario; it’s a supportive community,” says Eibl, whose company has benefitted from the tight-knit Sudbury innovation community, building relationships with NORCAT, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Heath Sciences North, Cambrian College and Laurentian University. “This is a good place to start a business, and we’ve had a lot of success recruiting talent that wants to come back to Sudbury. We also hire from the medical school.”

“Funding is always the biggest challenge for any start-up, but we’re doing a really good job of that right now,” says Eibl. “There are great programs available through the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund and FedNor.”

International connections

From the home base in Sudbury, Flosonics Medical’s success has taken Eibl around the world. In 2017, he traveled to Germany and won Merck’s Displaying Futures award for wearable biosensors. And this year, Flosonics Medical was selected from over 800 applicants worldwide to be among the 25 companies in the MedTech Innovator 2019 Accelerator showcase in Boston. The program matches start-ups with industry leaders to receive mentorship, and awards the winning company a $350,000 prize.

“There’s been a lot of industry recognition of what we’ve been doing,” Eibl says, including an invitation to take part in the L-SPARK Accelerator, a partnership between Telus and Blackberry to scale Canadian IoT ventures. “We developed a proof-of-concept to secure data in the cloud for medical devices that could be accessed remotely,” explains Eibl. “This is critical for fly-in communities; it could allow doctors to follow a patient’s vital signs in real time from hundreds of kilometres away.”

With the FloPatch in clinical trials, and a commercial launch on the horizon, the next step is growth. Flosonics Medical was selected to become a part of the Lazaridis Institute’s scale-up program. “It’s an amazing program,” Eibl says of the Blackberry founder’s initiative to support homegrown start-ups. “Canada punches above its weight in terms of innovation, but we don’t always develop as many anchor companies – like Blackberry or Shopify,” he says. “This program is about how to become a large company, rather than how to get acquired by one,” he explains. “We can be the next big Canadian tech company.”

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