Innovating Medicine and Mind in 2017: BlueDot, Thalmic Labs, Muse, and BlueRock

The ways we keep ourselves healthy changes and advances so quickly it can be hard to keep track of everything new. From the first-ever successful open-heart surgery in 1893 to the present day use of cellular immunotherapy to treat lymphoma, innovation and medicine go hand-in-hand to save lives, make patients more comfortable, and explore the human body down to its building blocks.

In addition, the growing attention being paid to mental health is allowing more people to focus on what it takes to stay happy and motivated.

The four finalists of the Health & Wellness category in this year’s Canadian Innovation Awards‘ span multiple different subsets in medicine, from ensuring mental wellbeing through meditation to connecting humans and computers through mental stimulation.


This social enterprise uses overarching advances like big data, technology and collaborative partnerships to prepare for and get ahead of the world’s most dangerous infectious diseases. BlueDot is comprised of scientists, engineers, big thinkers, designers and more, making up a completely modern take on what medicine has become.

BlueDot’s mission is to build the first-ever Global Early Warning system that can continuously anticipate and assess risks from dangerous diseases, then distribute insights into the spread and treatment. In this sense, the Toronto-based company has the mission to help global organizations and individuals protect themselves at all times.

“BlueDot generates cutting-edge data analysis, proprietary technology and actionable knowledge in the service of preventing, detecting, and mitigating a number of today’s most pressing global health issues.”

Applying both human and machine-driven analytics, BlueDot workers draw from a range of expertise, from ecology to geospatial modeling. More and more people are travelling and become global citizens, and BlueDot wants to make sure everyone stays healthy and capable.

BlueDot has even predicted health scares before massive global entities like the WHO. There’s no animosity though—BlueDot partners with WHO, as well as the CDC, proving that the company has a vested interest in keeping all of humanity safe from infectious disease. Everyday travellers can download BlueDot’s companion George, an app that informs users about health risks in different destinations.

BlueRock Therapeutics

Cell-based medicine is an example of what medicine can do when combined with the latest advances in technology. BlueRock’s vision to liberate patients from the burden of degenerative disease led them to become experts in cell therapy and learning how to repair the body when the body cannot repair itself.

The Toronto-based company is pioneering technologies and practices that replace damaged, dead or dysfunctional cells in an effort to restore critical natural functions. If successful, BlueRock’s vision could one day rid the world of cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases altogether.

“BlueRock’s culture is defined by scientific innovation, highest ethical standards, and an urgency to bring transformative treatments to all who would benefit.”

BlueRock’s method involves the replacement of dead cells via induced pluripotent stem cells. This form of regenerative medicine addresses the concerns and possible cures around several diseases, many of which simply cannot be cured without these kinds of advances.

Founded in late 2016 off of one of Canada’s largest ever funding rounds—$225 million USD to be exact—BlueRock is constantly expanding their staff to research and grow into the regenerative field. The company recently opened up space in MaRS specifically for research and development in an effort to further foster collaboration and crush degenerative disease once and for all.

Muse by Interaxon

Mental wellbeing is as important as physical health. This is a conclusion many are coming to realize, and Interaxon’s wellness product Muse helps normal people make the most out of how they personally achieve calmness and introspection.

Muse is a wearable that uses EEG technology to assess brain activity and provide users moment-to-moment insight into exactly how their meditation and wellness activity is going. There’s no weird cerebral implants necessary though—Muse is simply a cutting-edge wearable.

“The mission is to enable people to live a happier, healthier, and more connected lives with leading brainwave technologies and experiences.”

The Toronto company realizes that many users who try to begin meditation or wellness activities often lose focus and become discouraged. Muse is a great tool to keep them engaged and on the right path. This can lead the wearer to free themselves from physical, emotional and mental obstacles, and get on the path to a more enlightened life.

Muse by Interaxon has a busy 2017, raising $11.6 million in funding to speed up the company’s expansion. As more companies get into corporate wellness and everyday consumers pay more attention to their own mental health, Muse will become a natural choice. It helps that the developer kit recently expanded into new markets with new languages, meaning more customers than ever can learn what wellness truly means.

Thalmic Labs

It might be hard to think about how the interactions between computers and humans relate directly to health, but Thalmic Labs has it figured out. The Kitchener company strives to design seamless interactions between users and their digital devices.

Thalmic Labs’ Myo armband measures electrical activity in muscles to wirelessly control computers, phones and other digital devices, leading to brand new ways for those with mobility issues to control the devices they interact with every day. Thalmic Labs is putting the power back into the arm(bands) of users and making tech more accessible.

“At a really high level, what we’ve been thinking about is what do our interactions as humans with the digital world. What does that look like five to 10 years from now? Thalmic Labs has grown to a world-leading team of engineers, researchers, and designers committed to building the future of wearable technology.”

The company has grown to be a world-leader when it comes to wearables and is redefining a space that many say will shape the way humans interact with tech in the future. Thalmic Labs is working on new devices all the time and one day hopes to design something to replace smartphones–a daunting task, but one they are well-prepared for.

Thalmic Labs is a thought leader in the wearable industry, and the co-founders of the company even made Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list for consumer technology. They received one of the biggest funding rounds in Canadian history in late 2016 and have since shown the world what it means to fuse health and wearables together.

Vote for your Favourite

Which of these forward-thinking medical marvels do you believe should win the 2017 Canadian Innovation Awards‘ Health & Wellness category? Make sure you vote for your favourites before February 2 at midnight to have your say in which companies should win.

The winners will be announced at the live gala on February 22 at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.