More than a decade after developing a natural health compound that boosts the immune systems of livestock, life sciences company and Emergence client Avivagen is hoping a new version of the product aimed at humans will help it finally achieve its long-anticipated market breakthrough.
Takaya Technology’s PPE innovation supports fight against COVID-19
It started with an idea, a purpose, and a cause.
At the onset of the global pandemic, there was an immediate need for additional personal protective equipment (PPE) to support in the fight against COVID-19. Health care workers required not only a large supply of PPE, but one that would meet regulatory requirements and help keep frontline workers safe.
Noticing challenges with the available equipment, the Takaya team set out to innovate and create a more effective solution. Using their solid mix of expertise alongside their wide professional network, Nova Scotia-based Takaya Technology Inc. was formed.
The challenge with wearing masks
To protect themselves from job-related exposure risks, healthcare workers wear N95 masks which filter at least 95% of airborne particles. That said, in order to maintain this level of effectiveness, the N95 masks must fit the user’s face properly, creating an effective seal, to eliminate particles bypassing the filter material.
The problem observed by Takaya, was that some traditional N95 respirators were ill-fitting, and the ones that did fit properly caused significant discomfort and facial bruising. Seeing this, Takaya created an innovative mask design to serve the medical community, and ultimately the general public.
Their solution focuses on creating a better fitting respirator, that requires less force than traditional models. Their product also creates added comfort and increased breathability, providing a fit that isn’t compromised by the daily demands of clinical life, or even something as simple as speaking or smiling.
“Simple acts of humanity, like smiling or expressions of comfort, that often provide much needed warmth and support to vulnerable patients, can compromise the seal of traditional respirators. In a more drastic measure, we are learning that in some cases surgeons are instructed not to move their heads for the duration of their surgeries, to ensure their mask stays in place,” said Andrew MacKean, CEO, Takaya Technology. “We aim to remove unnecessary worry that these basic actions could be a threat to the care provider’s personal safety, so that focus can return to the priority of patient care.”
Takaya has filed a patent on its design and the team is focused on continuing to execute its commercialization strategy to bring the product to market.
“We had this idea that we knew would help people and address a critical challenge in this pandemic and in healthcare overall, but the key was knowing what to focus on and how to execute successfully,” said Erin MacKean, Chief Operating Officer, Takaya Technology. “Part of what has helped propel us forward so quickly is our ability to bring together the right people and access the appropriate financial, regulatory and commercialization expertise.”
That expertise is also available in-house at Takaya.
Chief Operating Officer Erin MacKean has a decade of experience commercializing medical devices, and a background in life sciences operations, marketing and product management. On the other hand, her brother, CEO Andrew MacKean is an entrepreneur with experience in finance, management consulting, operations, and product commercialization in regulated industries. Additionally, their sister Chief Medical Officer Dr. Susan Ripley, is an Acute Medicine Hospitalist and part of a group of attending physicians caring for COVID-19 patients, along with many other key contributors on the team who have helped drive the company forward.
“The medical device industry can be difficult to navigate as it is heavily regulated,” said Andrew. “At Takaya, we know that if you take the time to understand the best path, and assemble the right team, you can be successful.”
Takaya is the latest company to join Emergence, an Atlantic bioscience business incubator dedicated to assisting start-ups and growth-stage bioscience companies in efficiently bringing their products and services to market.
“We are very grateful to be working with the Emergence team as we move forward with Takaya’s plans for commercialization,” said Erin. “The team has been very responsive and supportive, and we look forward to working together to bring our product to market and make it available to serve medical communities around the world.”
For more information on Emergence, visit emergencebioincubator.com.
Emergence client Because Animals was recently featured in the Economist discussing their ongoing efforts to create a more sustainable way to feed our pets through laboratory-grow meat. Here is an excerpt from the article:
Pet owners, at least in the West, are more likely than other people to be vegetarians or vegans. That puts many of them in a quandary when it comes to feeding fully paid-up carnivores such as cats and dogs. But technology may soon resolve this dilemma. The idea of growing meat for human consumption from scratch, in the form of cell cultures, is now becoming popular. Some see in this approach a way to produce guilt-free pet food, too. Among these visionaries are Shannon Falconer and Joshua Errett, the founders of Because Animals, a firm based in Philadelphia. They have taken the idea to what might be seen as its logical conclusion, for the starting point for their cultured cat food is that favourite feline prey, a mouse.
Emergence is pleased to present Office Hours, a monthly opportunity for Emergence clients to connect with experts and ask questions pertaining to your company and its objectives.
This month’s topic is Finance and Budgeting with Trevor Kennedy of Grant Thornton who will cover a variety of topics ranging from foreign tax and the Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) program, to company structuring and budgeting during a crisis.
Emergence clients are encouraged to book a half hour time slot on Thursday, February 4, from 1 – 3:30 p.m. AST and come prepared with questions to discuss.
Emergence client Au Naturel Solutions and founder Simonne Cormier was featured in The Guardian PEI’s Heroes of 2020 series.
In 2019, Simonne founded Au Naturel Solutions, a company specializing in the manufacturing of an all-natural breast prosthesis with an attachment system. In contrast to the existing synthetic polyester or silicone options, Au Naturel’s product is made from animal and plant-based fibers.
In the fall of 2020, Simonne became a client of the Emergence program, which will take her business to the next important step of making a prototype in 2021 and eventually bring her product, and dream, to the marketplace.
Read full story from The Guardian PEI.
Emergence client Natures Crops International’s plant-based Ahiflower oil has been selected as a carrier oil in various nutraceuticals, food & beverage, and personal care.
Ahiflower is a ‘multi-omega’ oil grown regeneratively in the UK. Ahiflower oil’s rich omega fatty acid profile is ideal for driving health benefits in a variety of liquid and powder delivery formats.
It has been included as a functional companion ingredient and carrier oil in recent product launches in North America and Europe, including Asyva Serum, Auxly Dosecann CBD capsules, Braini memory and cognitive performance platform, Nouri Probiotic & Omega-3,6,9 digestive health Duocaps, among others.
Emergence client Pegasus Biotech is one of 10 recipients who received a $25,000 grant from Innovation PEI’s Ignition Fund, in this year’s round of funding.
This year’s Ignition Fund recipients are:
- Cape Reef Seafood and Smokehouse Limited
- Element Extraction Technology Inc.
- The Island Hop Company Ltd
- Pegasus Biotech
- Remidose Aerosols Inc
- Reset: Breathe Corporate Innovation
- Terry’s Berries
“It’s been such a hard year for so many Island businesses, so it feels really good to be able to make such a positive announcement today. I was a business owner in the past so I know how important it is to help local entrepreneurs get their innovative ideas turned into reality.”
– Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture Minister Matthew MacKay
With only 16% of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses owned by women, there is still much work to do in all sectors to support the full and equal participation of women in the economy. As an Atlantic bio-business accelerator, Emergence is committed to advancing gender equity and supporting the establishment and success of women-led bioscience companies.
According to the 2019 Emergence Company Survey, 45% of the 46 companies who responded had women founders and/or CEOs.
“We are delighted in the independent survey results that demonstrate the significant role that women entrepreneurs play in driving innovation in Atlantic Canada,” said Mark Redmond, Director of Incubation Services, Emergence. “As we review the Emergence portfolio of more than 60 companies, we see the notable presence of women in advancing initiatives with an emphasis on human and animal health and nutrition.”
The innovative work of these Emergence companies, alongside their solid leadership, is critical in growing and strengthening the bioscience sector – a key pillar of the Atlantic economy. There are many examples of women-led bioscience companies making waves in the industry to celebrate.
For example, BioTraceIT™ President, CEO and co-founder Deborah Dullen has a background in both the biotech and medical device fields with additional expertise in business development, sales, R&D, and global market entry. Her company, BioTraceIT™ recently launched PainTrace® a platform for detecting and monitoring pain in people and animals.
Chinova Bioworks is transforming the food and beverage industry with a natural, clean-label shelf-life extender extracted from white button mushrooms. Their CEO and co-founder Natasha Dhayagude has a background in biochemistry and a passion for entrepreneurship, delivering on Chinova’s mission to not only deliver clean-label ingredients, but also reduce food waste.
Because Animals CEO and co-founder Shannon Falconer has a PhD in microbial chemical biology and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. While Because Animals may be a small company at this stage, it has a big mission: to create nutritious, sustainable, animal-free pet food using cultured meat.
These are only a few examples of the many women-led companies in Emergence including high-performers such as Nutracelle, MicroSintesis, BioSpa, StepScan, CNS-CRO, Au Naturel Solutions, SeaFord Pharmaceuticals, SomaDetect, VetNOW, Dr. AK Gordon, and more.
For CEO of BioTraceIT™ Deborah Dullen, she credits her family’s support to dream big and the importance of passing on this encouragement to others.
“Worldwide women represent nearly 30% of researchers and in the US, women hold 31% of senior business roles,” she said. “We must thank all these individuals who are trailblazers; we are standing on the shoulders of giants.”
For more information on Emergence, visit emergencebioincubator.com.
Congratulations to Emergence client Kondor Pharma who was selected by Johnson & Johnson through their QuickFire Challenge on Immune-Support. Kondor will receive up to $50,000 in grant funding, one year of residency at JLABS, and the opportunity to engage with Johnson & Johnson Innovation.
Kondor Pharma is developing clinically proven, natural products with immunomodulatory properties to support immune and cognitive health and to help people with inflammation-related ailments.
PEI-based BioTraceIT was featured in Chemical Week highlighting the commercialization of PainTrace, a monitor used to visualize animal pain signals.
Canada’s BioTraceIT has introduced a tool that enables veterinarians and researchers to objectively visualize animal pain in real time. The company has launched its PainTrace wearable device in the US and Canada, with a field-based sales team. The firm claims PainTrace is “a first-of-its kind objective monitoring system that detects, quantifies and tracks pain in mammals”.
Prince Edward Island-based BioTraceIT stated: “PainTrace leverages the BioTraceIT analytics application software, and offers qualitative and quantitative monitoring across companion animal care, equine and bovine care. This multi-species measurement tool will also be important for clinical researchers in pursuit of novel pain therapies and will improve efficiency in translational research.