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A seat at the table: Shifting innovation towards an inclusive future

COVID-19 has revealed society-wide inequities. As challenges for under-served communities come to light, we must use an inclusive lens to build a stronger, more resilient tomorrow. Innovative solutions have the power to make that happen. Hardware technology enables groundbreaking solutions that can address global challenges, and true inclusivity is possible if we develop a variety of accessible designs and solutions. This Diversity Month, ventureLAB is highlighting the intersection of inclusivity and hardware while showcasing companies that are working towards a more equitable tomorrow through innovative technologies. From accessibility to addressing health care gaps, hardware technology - and the passionate entrepreneurs that drive it - can eradicate inequities to create a more equitable world. In 2019, Rachel Bartholemew was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She quickly saw major gaps in access to care and rehabilitation services provided to women. While on bed rest, she came up with the idea of a pelvic rehabilitation system, and leveraged data from over 54,000 women in gynecological cancer Facebook support groups as proof of concept.

“1.4M women in Ontario have pelvic health challenges, and only 938 therapists are qualified to treat them. This means that each therapist would need to actively treat roughly 1,700 patients at any given time. This is completely unheard of. I don’t know any clinician who can handle that patient load without the proper tools and support.” - Rachel Bartholomew, Founder of HyIvy Health

In 2020, Rachel founded HyIvy Health, the first company to collect, track and quantify progress on multiple data points on the pelvic floor. They have successfully created a pelvic rehabilitation device with trackable data for women who are experiencing symptoms from pelvic cancers and diseases. Women are less likely to have their pain and symptoms taken seriously, resulting in a lack of treatment. A study by the University of Pennsylvania found that on average, women wait 16 minutes longer than their male counterparts to be treated for pain related issues. Hyivy Health is using clinical evidence and rigorous product safety requirements to change the industry while offering women products that can actually help them. Their pelvic rehabilitation system alleviates a number of symptoms at once while providing the proper educational materials and including doctors in the treatment planning process to increase successful patient outcomes. HyIvy Health is in ventureLAB’s Tech Undivided program. Their patent-pending system has the potential to standardize pelvic health treatment worldwide. Wheelchair accessibility and navigation adds an unnecessary layer of frustration for those with mobility needs. Creating an equitable world includes creating safe and easy-to-use solutions for people with disabilities. Braze Mobility CEO & Founder, Pooja Viswanathan, has a passion for improving accessibility and independence for people with physical disabilities. She has worked with "smart" wheelchair technology for over a decade, and co-founded Braze Mobility to address common challenges wheelchair users face.

“While mirrors and sensors are mandated features in the automotive industry, this technology did not exist for wheelchairs.” - Pooja Viswanathan, Founder of Braze Mobility

Braze Mobility is the world’s first blind spot sensor system for wheelchairs, providing alerts to users regarding location and proximity to obstacles. Their patent-pending blind spot sensors can be added to any wheelchair, and the system provides multi-modal alerts to the user regarding location and proximity of obstacles through intuitive lights, sounds, and vibrations. Their aim is to create an accessible and inclusive world with equal opportunities for all. Braze Mobility and HyIvy Health are building their solutions with access to ventureLAB’s $7 million world class prototype lab. The Hardware Lab allows companies to test and troubleshoot electronics in house with access to world class mentors and advisory to strategically guide their business model. ventureLAB enables scaling companies to succeed in competitive global markets. We challenge our clients to scale with diversity, equity, and inclusion as values. ventureLAB has accepted the Federal government’s 50-30 challenge, aiming to make businesses an equitable place, and challenge our ecosystem to join us. To learn more about how hardware has an impact on our globe, register to attend HardTech, Canada’s premiere Hardware and Semiconductor event.

About ventureLAB

ventureLAB is a leading technology hub located in Markham in York Region, Canada’s second largest tech cluster. Through its programs focused on capital, talent, technology, and customers, ventureLAB has supported over 2,000 tech companies and entrepreneurs, including 100 companies that have raised over $100 million and created 3,500 jobs. At ventureLAB, we grow globally competitive tech titans that build-to-scale in Canada.

About HyIvy Health

Hyivy Health creates the first connected, modular pelvic rehabilitation device for women experiencing symptoms from pelvic cancers and diseases. Their device provides real time information from multiple sensors and mechanical functions to help keep track of progress, adapt treatment plans and provide more effective, comfortable rehab experiences.

About Braze Mobility

Braze Mobility develops innovative solutions to increase safe and independent mobility. They have developed the first blind spot sensor system for wheelchairs that can automatically detect obstacles and provide multi-modal feedback to the user. Their product helps restore dignity and independence back to the user, reduces property damage, reduces caregiver reliance, and increases safety for not only the user, but others in the environment as well.

Original Article on ventureLAB

ventureLAB is a leading global founder community for hardware technology and enterprise software companies in Canada. Our organization is led by seasoned entrepreneurs and business leaders with decades of industry experience in building IP-rich start-ups, scale-ups, and global multinationals to help you scale your business. Located at the heart of Ontario’s innovation corridor in York Region, ventureLAB is part of one of the biggest and most diverse tech communities in Canada. We enable technology startups to accelerate the commercialization of transformational products on a global scale.

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