WCVM profs help win third at tech challenge

Two Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) faculty members are part of a new company that received third place for its horse lift system at the University of Saskatchewan’s annual Tech Venture Challenge on May 22.

Dr. James Montgomery and his wife, Dr. Julia Montgomery, paired up with Jim Boire and Harley Olsen of RMD Engineering Inc. earlier this year to form One Health Medical Technologies Inc. (OHMT).

The team received $3,000 in prize money toward the start up of their company and further development of their product — a computerized hoist and lift system for the treatment and rehabilitation of horses with musculoskeletal or nervous system injuries.

The innovative idea, which the OMHT partners pitched to Tech Venture Challenge judges during the preliminary round on May 15, earned the company a spot among the three finalists in the May 22 event.

“This recognition is a strong motivator in our quest to find new solutions to the challenges faced by the veterinary community,” said Dr. James Montgomery, president of OHMT.

“The Tech Venture Challenge was both educational and motivational and kept us focused. I highly recommend it.”

At the end of the evening, judges selected Innocorps Research for the first-place prize of $50,000. The tech-based company is developing a self-contained water filtration system within the mining industry.

Second place went to Deliverify, a company that’s implementing an online platform to support efficient, reliable and consistent delivery alternatives for restaurant owners.

The OMHT partners share a passion for developing state-of-the-art medical technologies that allow for advancements in diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation of people and animals that suffer from debilitating injuries or disease. As an extension of RMD Engineering’s lift system for people, OHMT has devised a horse lift system to assist injured animals during diagnosis and treatment phases.

When horses are recovering from surgery or dealing with the effects of trauma, laminitis or other illnesses, they are often unable to support their own body weight. This situation presents a number of logistical challenges for veterinarians and veterinary technologists who must safely handle these large animals and keep them stable and comfortable during their treatment and recovery.

While Boire and Olsen offered their experience in developing lift systems, the Montgomerys contributed their veterinary expertise to the start-up team. James is a medical imaging specialist and assistant professor in the WCVM’s Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences. Julia is an assistant professor and a large animal internal medicine specialist in the college’s Department of Large Animal Clinical Sciences.

The Tech Venture Challenge operates from October to May each year. An initial round of finalists are selected in mid-December, and from December to May, teams are offered workshops, mentorship and advice to prepare and polish their business plans and presentations before the mid-May competition.

The U of S Industry Liaison Office (ILO) hosted and sponsored finales for the Tech Venture Challenge as well as the i3 Idea Challenge. The U of S offers the two competitions to encourage innovation and technology-based entrepreneurship within the university community.

The TVC competition is open to students, faculty, employees and alumni of the U of S. The i3 Idea Challenge is open to any business, but the team must include at least one U of S student. Between the two challenges, over $88,000 in cash prizes were given out to foster unique entrepreneur opportunities within Saskatoon.

The Tech Venture Challenge is sponsored by the ILO, Innovation Place, Mariner Innovations, Affinity Credit Union, Mercan, Royal Bank of Canada and Deloitte.

Sarah Figley is a second-year veterinary student from Saskatoon, SK and is the WCVM’s research communications intern for the summer of 2014.