Arthritis Society awards $200,000 in first-ever Arthritis Ideator Awards

Four Canadian innovators received prestigious and valuable awards from the Arthritis Society last month to bring to life their solutions for fighting the fire of arthritis.

At the inaugural Arthritis Ideator Awards event held April 21, OPERAS received the Olga Munari Arthritis Ideator Award, Knee KG and PROVA Innovations each received an Arthritis Ideator Award and Guided Hands was chosen as the People’s Choice Award winner based on the results of cross-Canada voting. Each winner receives a $50,000 grant from the Arthritis Society to help grow their ventures.

“Arthritis is a huge challenge looking for bold solutions and we want to support bright minds as they create those solutions,” said Trish Barbato, President and CEO of the Arthritis Society. “We are embracing innovation like never before because we believe it is key to changing the lives of the six million Canadians living with arthritis.”

In addition to the $50,000 grant, the Arthritis Ideator Program gives innovators access to expert advice from the Arthritis Society and the broader arthritis ecosystem as they continue to develop their innovations, as well as to people living with arthritis who can support beta testing or provide feedback through focus groups or surveys.

“We can’t wait to see the winners take their ideas to the next level,” said Vikram Vij, chef, restaurateur, author and one of the five VIP judges. “It’s time to put arthritis out of business.”

Vij was joined on the judging panel by business leader, philanthropist and restaurateur Mohamed Fakih, Medicom Group CEO Ronald Reuben, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Nick Yardley of HaloHealth, and Barbato. They selected the winners based on the originality of the innovation, potential for significant and lasting outcomes for people with arthritis, and readiness for market.

“For too long, health charities like ours have played it safe. With six million Canadians living with arthritis and a dramatic rise in arthritis diagnoses expected in the next 20 years – safe is no longer an option,” said Barbato.

About the winners:

  • OPERAS is an app-based program to empower active self-care, capturing information on the go, and providing trends on symptoms, disease activity and treatments. Says creator Dr. Linda Li, “With OPERAS, people with arthritis can monitor disease activity, keep track of medications, create action plans and collect and display physical activity data through an integrated physical activity tracker. It gives a detailed picture to help users lead healthier, pain-free lives.”
  • KneeKG is a dynamic tool for diagnosing knee osteoarthritis by examining biomechanical markers while the knee is in motion, enabling custom treatment plans. “It’s like an electrocardiogram for the heart but for the knee. It tells the doctor exactly what’s going on in the knee, and what needs to be treated,” says Michelle Laflamme, CEO of Emovi, which produces KneeKG.
  • PROVA Innovations offers ‘smart’ in-soles that aid in gait rehabilitation for people with early- and mid-stage knee and hip osteoarthritis. “Unlike anything else on the market, our innovative approach works in real time, outside of the clinic, whether a patient is walking, running or climbing stairs. And on any surface, our cueing learns and adapts,” says Matthew Rosato, PROVA Innovations founder.
  • Guided Hands is an assistive device that guides hand movements to enable people with limited hand mobility to write, draw and access technology. Lianna Genovese is the CEO of ImaginAble Solutions, which produces Guided Hands. “Improving quality of life is our mission at ImaginAble Solutions. Together, the Arthritis Society and ImaginAble Solutions can enhance the quality of life for millions of people living with arthritis to enable them to live the life they imagine.”