Six start-ups to watch have uOttawa and OTTN connections

Six startups that have shared common connections with the OTTN and the University of Ottawa were featured in the Ottawa Business Journal last week. Their annual feature on Startups to Watch showcased ten promising start ups in the Ottawa area. Out of the ten companies, six share past relationships with the University of Ottawa.

It is great to see this impact from the OTTN and the University of Ottawa. This has been through the creation of start-ups and through university / industry research collaborations as follows:
CogniVue has collaborated with a number of uOttawa professors, including Robert Laganière, Shervin Shirmohammadi on projects such as driver assistance technologies for vehicles
Exocortex has worked with Jochen Lang to bring new capabilities to their cutting edge 3D animation software that is now being used in large scale film production.
Giatec Scientific was launched with the encouragement and financial support of the OTTN though our early PoP funding programs.
Micrometrics, Proximify and Spoonity are all graduates of the Startup Garage, a program that provides cash, mentorship and support to student entrepreneurs.
These companies join a 2013’s start-ups to watch that include iWatchLife, which is commercialising research arising from Robert Laganiere’s lab, and Gnowit, another Start-up Garage graduate. It is great to see this impact on the local economy.

For more information and general resources related to industry collaborations, check out the links below.


Better mobility drives University of Ottawa mechanical engineering lab to create new technologies.

Marc Dourmit is an assistant professor in the University of Ottawa’s department of Mechanical Engineering with the very ambitious goal of developing a bionic leg that will bring a new level of freedom and mobility to lower limb amputees. In the US alone, there are 1.7 million people living with limb loss,1 however, there are many challenges in developing a replacement limb as advanced components must be developed and integrated into a package that is safe and reliable while looking and feeling good for the user.

Prosthetics and artificial limb systems have continuously improved with the development of new technologies. Recent advancements include smart adapting microprocessor knees, myoelectric controllers and targeted muscle re-innervation. These enable smarter and more lifelike artificial limbs with rugged and advanced components. Despite such advancements, adapting new technologies into an affordable prosthetic remains a significant challenge.

Professor Dourmit and his students are taking a long term perspective by developing and testing new components for artificial limbs one piece at a time. Many of their components may also be used for other applications. For example, Mr. Dourmit’s team has developed an enhanced pneumatic actuator muscle that is capable of handling up to 10 times more force than standard technology, saving crucial weight and bulk for the leg. These pneumatic muscles could also have industrial , aerospace, and military applications such as weight bearing exoskeletons for military or recreational use, and tactile industrial robotics found on automotive factory lines.

With the demonstrated abilities of this muscle well established, work has now begun in its application to an advanced prosthetic. Brandon Fournier, a 4th year engineering student in Professor Doumit’s lab is testing the muscle’s responsiveness to EMG control as part of his honours project. EMG, or electromyography measures the electrical signal of muscles. These signals are tapped by Mr. Fournier in order to control the muscle, with a view to controlling the artificial leg. He is laying out the groundwork for future projects that will use EMG as well as other inputs in order to control powered prosthetic assistive devices with pneumatic artificial muscles.

We will continue to follow this exciting project and look for new technologies that take Dr. Doumit and his team a step closer to the development of a new bionic leg. In parallel, we will be looking for other applications in order to transfer the technologies into companies that will integrate them into other products.

To see the pneumatic muscle in action, just click on the video below.

Additional information about the pneumatic artificial muscle can be found at the Autm – Global Technology Portal

1. Kathryn Ziegler-Graham, PhD, et al. “Estimating the Prevalence of Limb Loss in the United States – 2005 to 2050,” Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 89 (2008): 422-429.

University of Ottawa creates opportunities for Pharmaceutical Industry

Scientific innovation in the nation’s capital takes aim at the pharmaceutical industry with the development of new and exciting technologies that could create opportunities for pharmaceutical developers and manufacturers.



 The University of Ottawa’s renown Faculty of Science and a team of world class chemists have taken the task of improving the quality and affordability of pharmaceutical products by developing new tools and techniques for drug development and manufacturing. The technologies disclosed below are products of the synergy between active research programs in natural product synthesis and biosynthesis, medicinal chemistry, bioanalytical chemistry, and chemical biology, which continuously serve to bolster the University’s reputation in the area of biopharmaceutical chemistry.

 Among the new technologies under development is a series of techniques related to carbon-nitrogen chemistry. One application is in the synthesis of amino acids for synthetic protein development, which is an area that will have profound effects on the pharmaceutical industry. The University of Ottawa techniques employ a one step reaction to amino acids and their derivatives, which can be used to cheaply synthesize many peptides required in the manufacturing of protein and peptide based drugs. Further developments in the synthesis of beta-aminocarbonyl, found in several major drugs, have also reduced the number of steps in the synthesis.

 Working in a collaborative environment, the University’s chemistry research is moving from the chemists’ bench, and into disease models. For instance, the chemistry profiled above is currently being used to synthesize Nucleuophilic Enzyme inhibitors. These molecules present new opportunities for pharmaceutical developers to create new cancer fighting drugs based on the inhibitors. Furthermore, the inhibitors can have investigational applications that could be used to discover new pathophysiological processes.

 Another fascinating and potentially ground breaking technology, is a new type of Single Molecule Magnet or SMM that can be used for drug delivery and imaging contrasting. These compounds were created though the University of Ottawa’s globally recognized expertise in photochemistry. The SMMs are easy to produce by combining a gold nanoparticle with a dinuclear dysprosium SMM in a manner that retains their magnetic properties. The technology enables an affordable source of stable SMM to develop materials for a variety of applications in medicine and information technology.

 The technologies listed above are but a fraction of what the University of Ottawa has to offer in terms of partnerships with the pharmaceutical industry. For more information please contact the University of Ottawa’s Technology Transfer and Business Enterprise Office for more details by visiting

 Information on new technologies related to chemistry and pharmaceutical development can be found by clicking on the links for each technology listed below:


Amino Acids and Derivatives; One Step Synthesis


Efficient synthesis of synthetic peptides containing beta-aminocarbonyls


Biaryl coupling to generate compounds for pharmaceutical and organic semiconductor applications


Inhibitors of Nucleophilic Enzymes for therapeutic and drug discovery applications


Single-Molecule Magnets (SMM) for drug delivery and imaging contrast agents


Antioxidants to preserve lipids


Non-invasive 3D Imaging using CARS


Pharmaceutical Authentication and Monitoring


A full list of University of Ottawa technologies can be found at the AUTM Global Technology Portal.

Laser à fibre femtoseconde portable

Portable Femtosecond Fiber Laser

The University of Ottawa is seeking partners in developing applications for its new femtosecond laser. This femtosecond (fs) laser brings the high power, ultra short pulses of a solid state fs laser into a fiber based system, enabling a substantial savings in size and cost. This opens up new possibilities in applications such as imaging, machining, and ophthalmology.

The specifications can be modified based on a user’s specific needs. Femtosecond fiber lasers based on this design will have the following advantages:

  • Lower operating costs

  • Portable due to 10 times size reduction (size of a desktop PC)

  • Robust lower cost system due to ease of manufacturing enabled by fiber optics

  • High power pulses appropriate for new and existing applications where pulses lower than 8 picoseconds are required

Researcher: Hanan Anis is an Associate Professor at the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). Previously, Hanan was the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer at Ceyba, an optical networking company. She conducted pioneering research in various areas of photonics, including soliton generation and detection, non-linear propagation, tunable lasers, and high-end transmission systems while at Nortel.