Home  »  Vessl Prosthetics Inc. takes first place in 10th Annual Synapse Competition, Winning over 50k in cash and in-kind prizes

Vessl Prosthetics Inc. takes first place in 10th Annual Synapse Competition, Winning over 50k in cash and in-kind prizes

Hamilton, ON – March 23, 2023 – Yesterday, Innovation Factory’s Synapse Life Science Competition, Ontario’s premier life science pitch competition, announced the winners of over $100,000 in prizes at the 10th annual showcase event. After three years of virtual events, the competition was held in person for the first time since 2019, bringing together innovators, business students, and industry leaders in Hamilton, Ontario.

The Synapse Competition is designed to help move cutting-edge life science products and services out of the lab and into the market by teaming up innovators with business students and equipping them with the necessary training, guidance, and tools to prosper. 

This year, 15 early-stage life science startups participated in three months of intensive training, where they produced commercialization plans for their ventures and prepared for the showcase. 

At the event, the top three Synapse Competition finalists; Vessl Prosthetics Inc, Reya Health, and Laetech went on to deliver their pitches to the esteemed judging panel and compete for their share of over $100,000 in cash and in-kind prizes.  

Vessl Prosthetics Inc. was named the grand prize winner, taking home a prize of $50,000 in cash along with an in-kind prize package from Shift Health, an in-kind legal package from Gowling WLG, and an in-kind prize package from Megalab Group for their automatically adjusting prosthetic socket. Vessl’s patentable technology redistributes pressure around the amputee’s leg to maintain a snug fit, which empowers amputees and their champions to overcome obstacles and realize their full potential.

2023 Synapse Competition winner Vessl Prosthetics COO and Co-founder Oleksiy Zaika accepts check from competition judge Gowling WLG's Derek Sheppard

“We are beyond excited to have won first place at this year’s Synapse Competition. We really feel as though we have been set up for success with Innovation Factory. It is incredibly rewarding to know that the judges recognized the usefulness of our product. We are eagerly looking forward to what lies ahead for us”, said Oleksiy Zaika, COO and Co-Founder of Vessl. 

Reya Health took second place, receiving $20,000 in cash and an in-kind legal prize from Bereskin & Parr LLP.  Reya Health is a digital platform for personalized contraceptive counseling. Their process utilizes smart algorithms, human-centered design, and in-depth user profiles to match members with birth control methods.

Laetech came in third place, receiving $7,500 in cash and an in-kind Legal package from Ridout & Maybee LLP for their novel reconstructive and cosmetic solution that harnesses the healing power of a patient’s own cells.

The Synapse Competition judges included Derek Sheppard with Gowling WLG, Suman Rao from Lumari Ventures, and Jonathan Bramson from Triumvira Immunologics, who learned about the winners’ outstanding levels of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. The winners will also receive a one-year membership with Life Sciences Ontario and the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce.

DAZL Innovations won this year’s “Quick Pitch” prize of $2,500 cash for their product, ‘The Lifty’, an all-in-one tool that helps reduce the strain caused by removing IV and injection caps. 

Additionally, each of the competition finalists will receive a $5,000 grant to bolster their business endeavors through Innovation Factory’s SOPHIE program. Delivered in collaboration with the Synapse Life Science Consortium, the Southern Ontario Pharmaceutical and Health Innovation Ecosystem (SOPHIE) program launched in 2021 with a $6-million investment from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). The SOPHIE program provides emerging life science companies with the opportunity to leverage renowned research expertise and clinical capacity to accelerate their path to market.

“The future of Canada’s health technology is strong. Canada has some of the best life sciences entrepreneurs in the world, and their talents were on full display today at the Synapse Competition,” said the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Ontario. “The Government of Canada knows that the best way to bring cutting-edge medical technologies to Canadians is to build them right here, and that’s exactly what we are doing.” 

“We are thrilled to bring the Synapse Life Science Competition back in person for the first time since 2019,” said David Carter, CEO of Innovation Factory. “As we celebrate the 10th anniversary of this event, we are proud to be giving away over $100,000 in prizes that will have a big impact on these companies as they build ventures. Innovation Factory is committed to serving as a bridge between innovators and the resources they need to succeed. We are excited to be able to continue supporting commercialization and partnerships through the Synapse Competition and the SOPHIE Program.”

The Synapse Life Science Competition is part of a collaborative effort between Innovation Factory and the Synapse Life Science Consortium, and would not be possible without the support of our sponsors, specifically, the ‘Title Sponsor’ Gowling WLG, and ‘Innovation Partners’, Bereskin & Parr, and Ridout & Maybee.   

About Innovation Factory

Innovation Factory is a not-for-profit business accelerator, serving as the catalyst for technology innovation in the greater Hamilton area since 2011. Innovation Factory provides business services, training, mentorship, and strategic connections to drive market adoption, leverage intellectual property, and increase revenues, investment, and jobs. Innovators can also access sector-specific resources including exclusive smart transportation test environments and data; and a formal life science and health innovation ecosystem.


About FedDev Ontario

For 13 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth and job creation in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.


Annie Horton
Marketing Lead
Innovation Factory

[email protected]


Edward Hutchinson
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario)

[email protected]

Innovation Factory

Innovation Factory is a business accelerator, dedicated to helping Ontario-based businesses launch, scale, and succeed. We provide start-ups, and scaling companies with advisory services, training, mentorship, and strategic connections to help bring disruptive technologies to market, leverage intellectual property, increase revenues, attract investment and create jobs. Serving as the catalyst for tech innovation in the greater Hamilton area since 2011 we are driven to help: Entrepreneurs bring new ideas to life and to market Small/Medium Enterprises (SMEs) get to the next level Hamilton build a dynamic culture and a community of innovation Innovation can happen anywhere. Our goal is to make it work everywhere. We work to elevate key industry sectors including, advanced manufacturing, clean tech, information technology, integrated mobility, life sciences & health care and social innovations.

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