• Entrepreneurship at UBC

Venture Spotlight Series: The Game Changers

Updated: Apr 6, 2020

The past several weeks have been a whirlwind. In what seems like the blink of an eye, the world has shifted and people's daily lives have changed. This month, we wanted to focus our spotlight on some of the amazing ventures in our community that are stepping up and providing solutions. Meet the game changing ventures that are helping to solve the world's most immediate problems:

AbCellera Mobilizing a response to COVID-19

AbCellera is rising to the challenge to fight COVID-19. The Vancouver biotech company has developed world leading technology that leverages high-throughput microfluidics, machine vision and artificial intelligence for antibody discovery and are rapidly working to create antibody therapeutics to prevent and treat COVID-19. AbCellera’s core technology is a microfluidic platform that uses miniaturized assays to screen antibodies from individual B cells. These proprietary assays can be customized to screen for specific therapeutic properties to yield panels of hundreds of therapeutic candidates. Since 2018, AbCellera has been working under the DARPA Pandemic Prevention Platform (P3) program to establish a robust technology platform for pandemic response that is capable of developing field-ready medical countermeasures within 60 days of isolation of an unknown viral pathogen. In early March, they announced a formal partnership with global pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly, to co-develop antibody products for COVID-19. Within one week of receiving a blood sample from one of the first U.S. patients who recovered from COVID-19, they identified over 500 human antibodies that are candidates for development as a treatment.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently announced a $192 million investment in companies fighting COVID-19signing an agreement with AbCellera to support their work on finding and harnessing a solution to COVID-19. 

AbCellera received support and mentorship from entrepreneurship@UBC through our Open Office Hours program and is a UBC spin-off company


3D Printing for a cause

Aiming to transform the way companies manufacture, 3DQue provides a solution to fast, smart, and sustainable 3D printing. For their team, the wake of COVID-19 presented two pressing issues they had the potential to solve: the economic and human implications of the virus.  In the past few weeks, 3DQue has broadened their operations to serve businesses impacted by waning international supply chains, keeping companies open by creating custom products otherwise near impossible to obtain in the current climate. They are collaborating with a range of industries to provide parts critical to their continuation, expanding the breadth of their business to provide solutions to lessen the economic impact of the virus. Most notably, 3DQue is a part of an open source community that is leading the design of products for the 3D printing of scarce health necessities like face shields and ventilators. 3DQue’s end to end automation suite of printers puts the team in a unique position to produce these necessities, locally, to feed hospital and healthcare supply shortages without jeopardizing social distancing protocols. They are working with collaborators all over the world to help source and create sterilizable materials suitable for the 3D printing of medical supplies that can take the place of big factories that have been halted due to the virus. As part of the BC COVID-19 3D printing community, the team is preparing to expedite the printing of thousands of healthcare devices, critical for front line workers.

3DQue is a venture that is currently a part of entrepreneurship@UBC


(Re)building HR infrastructure

In the last 2 weeks, Brianna Blaney, founder and CEO of deepND and Envol Strategies, has spent approximately 70% of her time working pro bono, banking close to 100 hour work weeks consulting with companies navigating the HR landscape amidst COVID-19.  One of the most material aspects of this crisis is the job market, making workforce solutions more necessary than ever as businesses who’ve never had layoffs are finding themselves considering major cuts while others are too shocked to move forward. 

A solutions based SAAS (software-as-a-service) platform, deepND uses artificial intelligence to help customers hire better hourly workers and keep them longer. Brianna’s service company Envol Strategies specializes in solving complex hiring and retention challenges. Without skipping a beat, both teams have channeled the agility and creativity custom to early stage companies, shifting their priorities to build an online hub for employers with custom resources and tools to not only survive, but position themselves to come out stronger than ever. Easing the whiplash caused by the many programs and benefits spun out over the last few weeks, they’ve provided transition guides for companies ranging from remote learning for employees to virtual onboarding processes to give people a better experience at work.  

deepND has expanded the scope of their product to address the urgent requirements of hourly employers, tapping into new opportunities to solve real business problems and build a new normal for hourly employers. With employers uncertain of how to proceed, deepND and Envol Strategies have become core drivers of this transition, leveraging their expertise to (re)build better, results-oriented HR infrastructure.

deepND is a venture that is currently a part of the HATCH Accelerator program


Impacting health practitioners and patients, remotely 

If you asked healthQb to describe their venture roadmap a few weeks ago, the team’s answer would be completely different to what you’d get today.  

A health IT startup, healthQb has been developing software to manage the route to recovery for individuals with chronic pain and similar biopsychosocial conditions. By pairing data acquired through a wearable device with the user’s subjective state, healthQb provides a potentially revolutionary perspective of one’s health. The data allows allied health practitioners to uncover the deeper underlying issues contributing to a person’s chronic condition and then quantify treatment protocols.

As a result of physical distancing measures, practitioners have stopped meeting patients face to face and healthQb’s target practitioners are currently scrambling to find ways to deliver valuable tele-health services to their clients. As healthQb’s platform was developed for remote-patient monitoring, the team recognized that their data and platform could become a valuable component of these practitioners’ new service offerings.  

Recognizing the universality of their platform, this shift also prompted the team to broaden their target condition from chronic pain to include the myriad of mental and general health issues that are expected to materialize in the coming months. healthQb anticipates delivering their product to market this month, which is months ahead of the schedule they set at the beginning of the year. COVID-19 has emboldened the company’s mission to help allied health practitioners treat their patients, and particularly amidst the world’s gravitational shift to remote care.

healthQb is a venture that is currently a part of entrepreneurship@UBC

Other ventures to watch:

  • Club Row is the world's first and only rhythm based rowing class, rowing to the beat in a full-body workout unlike any other. The team has recently launched their beta app and have a curated collection of workout videos online for you to row from the comfort and safety of your own home. Sweat with them remotely through their daily video fitness solutions, here

  • FLIK is an online portal where female-identifying founders or leaders and apprentices discover each other and connect, bridging ambitious talent with female led businesses. Amidst COVID-19, they have been a solution to students who have had job offers rescinded, allowing candidates to explore female business owners who are looking for talent. Find out more about FLIK, here

  • Nada is a zero waste grocery store that is cultivating a better world by inspiring people to change the way they shop for food. The past few weeks have been some of their busiest ever and the team is committed to keeping sustainable and safe solutions to package free shopping while #flatteningthecurve. Find out how they’re evolving and where you can find them, here

  • Remedy Clinical is a virtual ‘allied healthcare professional’ clinical consulting service that supports the family doctor in the care of their patient. Their multi-disciplinary service provides chronic disease management, complex care monitoring and health and wellness consulting, using revolutionary products and services developed by Remedy. Learn more about their services, here

  • Roost Medical is an online clinic/pharmacy allowing patients to skip the waiting line to get personalized care and prescriptions delivered to your door (minimizing exposure and spread of COVID-19). Sign up, consult online and have your treatment delivered through discrete, comprehensive and authentic means. Get acquainted with Roost Medical, here

  • WeVu is an ultra-flexible video-sharing platform that gives you remote, anytime feedback on students' skills so they develop, get feedback, and build confidence. Right now, instructors can sign up for a free personal site and create unlimited course sites and invite their students with a link, at no cost to the student. Check out WeVu and get started, here

This content was originally shared through our March 2020 Venture Spotlight. Read it in full, here The Venture Spotlight is a monthly series sharing the latest news coming out of the entrepreneurship@UBC community. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay in the loop for all things entrepreneurship@UBC, from upcoming events and announcements to venture success stories and ways to get involved, here

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