H|T: The Healthtech Times – Neuralink implants in first human test subject

Plus: How 23andMe’s valuation fell from $6 billion to nearly $0.

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Elon Musk’s Neuralink implants brain chip in first human

The first human patient has received an implant from brain-chip startup Neuralink on Sunday and is recovering well, the company’s billionaire founder Elon Musk said.

“Initial results show promising neuron spike detection,” Musk said in a post on the social media platform X on Monday.

The study uses a robot to surgically place a brain-computer interface (BCI) implant in a region of the brain that controls the intention to move, Neuralink said previously, adding that its initial goal is to enable people to control a computer cursor or keyboard using their thoughts alone.


University of Calgary’s “venture philanthropy fund” UCeed targets pre-seed funding gap

UCeed has expanded from two donor-supported funds housed within Innovate Calgary into a group of six that back early-stage tech startups developing innovative health, social impact, and energy-related solutions.

In an interview with BetaKit, UCeed executive director Peter Santosham described UCeed as a “gap fund” aimed at helping startups in certain sectors bridge “the valley” between fundamental discovery, which is often financed via grants, and traditional venture capital.

Places with less developed ecosystems and angel communities—especially in certain verticals, such as healthtech in Calgary—gap funds can play an important role, Santosham argues.


23andMe’s Fall From $6 Billion to Nearly $0

23andMe went public in 2021 and its valuation briefly topped $6 billion. Forbes anointed Anne Wojcicki, 23andMe’s chief executive and a Silicon Valley celebrity, as the “newest self-made billionaire.”

Now Wojcicki’s self-made billions have vanished. 23andMe’s valuation has crashed 98% from its peak and Nasdaq has threatened to delist its sub-$1 stock.

Wojcicki reduced staff by a quarter last year through three rounds of layoffs and a subsidiary sale. The company has never made a profit and is burning cash so quickly it could run out by 2025.

(The Wall Street Journal)

AI-powered medical record reviewer Wisedocs closes $12.7-million CAD Series A round

Toronto-based Wisedocs has secured a $12.7-million CAD Series A round for its artificial intelligence-powered medical record review platform.

The platform can sort, summarize, and review various forms of medical documents including PDFs, JPEG images, and faxes, cutting down processing time for insurance companies.


Cardinal Health acquiring Specialty Networks to expand tech offerings for independent practices

Healthcare product distributor and data analytics services company Cardinal Health has announced a $1.2 billion cash deal to acquire Specialty Networks, which the former said will help it expand across specialty therapeutic areas and enhance other provider offerings.

(Fierce Healthcare)

Inovia report indicates Canadian software sector is returning to normal

Venture capital funding across the Canadian software sector is now seeing a return to normal after a challenging two years, signalling the start of a promising new phase, according to a new report from Inovia Capital.

FinTech, digital health, and “future of work” verticals together accounted for over half of total VC funding since 2019, with digital health and travel & hospitality having both doubled their funding in that time frame.


Amid rising business costs, GoDaddy’s Young Lee shares how Canadian companies can keep them in check

The cost of doing business in Canada is rising, and compounding this problem is a wave of hidden costs that often elude initial budgeting and catch entrepreneurs and small businesses by surprise.

As Young Lee, Canada market and growth lead at GoDaddy puts it, “Canadian small businesses are stretched thinner than ever, particularly when it comes to their finances.” 

As business costs continue to rise, Lee talked to BetaKit about how Canadian small business owners can keep expenses in check.


Waterloo undergrad project became $9M startup that sends cameras into human brains

A tiny camera that began as an undergraduate project for two friends in the University of Waterloo’s engineering program gives doctors treating strokes the ability for the first time to see the blockages and damage in blood vessels.

Getting Vena Medical’s innovation from kitchen-table chatter to a scope inserted into a patient’s head last November took seven years and a combination of drive, talent, connections and luck.

(The Logic)

Eight Canadian foodtech projects receive $1.9 million in pilot funding from CFIN

Eight Canadian foodtech startups have received a collective $1.9 million in project funding from The Canadian Food Innovation Network’s (CFIN) FoodTech Next program.

Toronto-based Index Biosystems is behind one of the projects being supported by the FoodNext program. Index develops BioTags, which are applied to food and ingredients to generate “molecular-level” insights into production lines and provide information on where ingredients came from. The aim of the project is to improve recall efficiency through its ingredient-tracing abilities.


MIMOSA Receives Health Canada Approval

Halifax- and Toronto-based MIMOSA Diagnostics, which makes a medical device for non-invasively assessing tissue damage, has received Health Canada approval six months after it launched its technology in the Untied States.

The sign-off paves the way for the company to sell its MIMOSA Pro device north of the border, following comments last year by CEO Dr. Karen Cross that pursuing American approval first would ease the Canadian compliance process because the two systems have similar requirements.


Government of Canada finally launches consultations on SR&ED modernization

As promised late last month, the federal government has now launched consultations on its Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax incentive program.

The Department of Finance is seeking feedback on how to modernize and improve SR&ED in “cost-neutral ways” and the suitability of adopting a patent box regime by April 15, as it considers whether to give firms that develop and keep IP in Canada a tax break on sales of their inventions globally.


Why Startups Are Seeking Out Health Systems’ VC Arms

In the past decade or two, health systems have been establishing their own venture capital arms to support health tech startups. At least 23 health systems currently have venture capital arms — mainly big institutions such as Ascension, Cleveland Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, Mayo Clinic and UPMC.

In interviews conducted this month, startup founders told MedCity News that they find investments from health system VC arms to be much more valuable in the long-term than capital from traditional VC firms.

(MedCity News)

Communitech names six new Canadian tech companies on track to reach $1 billion in revenue by 2030

Kitchener-Waterloo innovation hub Communitech has revealed six new Canadian tech companies that have the potential to reach $1 billion in revenue by 2030.

Among the new companies to join the group is health data company Smile, which closed a $30 million in Series B financing in 2023, and claims it has grown rapidly since its inception.


Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl

Alex Riehl is a staff writer and newsletter curator at BetaKit with a Bachelor of Journalism from Carleton University. He's interested in tech, gaming, and sports. You can find out more about him at alexriehl.com or @RiehlAlex99 on Twitter.

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