ParticipAid, an app developed by U of T Mississauga alumni that helps scientists recruit participants for their research investigations, is among this year’s 11 winners of the Ontario Brain Institute’s (OBI) pioneering program, Ontario Neurotech (ONtrepreneurs).
“It’s an exciting time for us, but also for researchers across the country looking for better ways to recruit and engage with participants,” said Erica Tatham, ParticipAid co-founder.
ParticipAid provides neuroscientists with engagement and knowledge translation tools to make their research more accessible, transparent and engaging. As well, the app makes it easier for the public to discover, learn about, and participate in research while making the experience more rewarding.
What sets them apart from other ONtrepreneurs, however, is the innovative idea behind ParticipAid – that participation in neuroscientific studies is relevant to everyone.
“For many studies, you do not need to have a neurological condition to participate,” said Anthony Nazarov, ParticipAid co-founder. “Our goal is to have everyone taking part; through our collective contribution in research we can significantly speed up discoveries and ultimately find cures for illnesses that impact so many of us.”
The developers of ParticipAid will be given $50,000 for start-up expenses and receive mentorship, training, and opportunities to access OBI’s research and industry partners. They will also have access to IBM’s Design Workshops and to entrepreneurial services from the IBM Global Entrepreneurship Program.
“We’re grateful for receiving continual support from ICUBE, the RIC Centre, Ontario Centres of Excellence, and most recently, from the Ontario Brain Institute,” said Nazarov.
Although they will be focusing mainly on knowledge translation tools and better participant engagement, the founders are excited to continue the development of ParticipAid for the next phase. They have partnered with CANBIND (The Canadian Biomarker Integration Network in Depression) and will be piloting their engagement tools in academic centres across Canada.
“In the meantime, stay tuned for the first release of ParticipAid in the coming months,” said Nazarov. “Finally, you’ll be able to easily discover studies you can participate in and make your own dent in medical history.”
The ONtrepreneurs program supports early-stage innovators to develop and market brain-related technologies by providing a source of funding and other resources to launch neurotechnology ventures such as ParticipAid. “Our program is attracting more talent and innovations every year,” said Dr. Tom Mikkelsen, OBI’s president and scientific director. “This year’s overwhelming demand pushed us over our maximum and we awarded eleven ONtrepreneurs.”
For more information, please visit ParticipAid’s website.
Story by Sarah Jane Silva, photo by Ryan Cerrudo.