Innovation in rehab, age-tech and healthcare recognized at annual ICAIR awards ceremony

The International Conference on Aging, Innovation and Rehabilitation has announced winners of the 2024 Power Play, Three Minute Talks and Paper of the Year competitions

The 2024 International Conference on Aging, Innovation and Rehabilitation (ICAIR) has come to a close, but not before recognizing inventive startup companies, presentations and scientific findings that have the potential to alter the future of health care.

The two-day ICAIR conference – held last week at the Carlu event venue in downtown Toronto – attracted more than 800 attendees from a variety of professional disciplines, including heath care, rehabilitation, engineering and age-tech.

The annual conference is highlighted by a series of competitions that showcase innovative ideas, products and concepts, as well as research papers and presentations on a variety of topics related to helping the elderly and those living with disability and illness.

Power Play Pitch Competition

The Dragon’s Den-style Power Play Pitch Competition helps drive the development and commercial success of existing startup companies and provides seed funding for entrepreneurs with innovative concepts. 

The competition consists of two events: the Innovative Concept Competition, and the Innovative Start-up Competition. Contestants pitched their vision for the future of healthcare to a panel of industry experts for a share of $50,000 in prizes. 

AiimSense Inc., a medical technology company that develops cutting-edge electromagnetic technology for diagnostic imaging, claimed the first place prize in the Innovative Start-up Category. 

“This award along with the connections we’ve built at ICAIR will help accelerate our growth,” said AiimSense CEO and co-founder Atefeh Zarabadi. “We will use the funding from this award to get certification to begin in human trials.” 

AiimSense’s flagship product is a portable brain scanner that seeks to reduce the cost of head scans and improve outcomes for stroke and traumatic brain injury patients. 

The company earned $25,000 for its first place finish.

The second and third place prizes were awarded to Bryan Hong of Dynamic Memory Solutions Inc., and Nardin Samuel of Cove Neurosciences Inc. Both companies earned $10,000 in prizes.  

KITE Director Dr. Milos R. Popovic, from left, with Power Play Innovative Concept winners, Helixir Medical CEO Moses Cook, TRUSTE Inc. CEO Shaghayegh Chavoshian and PostureCoach Chief Technology Officer Davood Dadkhah

In the Innovative Concept Category Helixir Medical and its CEO and co-founder Moses Cook claimed the first place prize. 

Helixir Medical has developed an intraoperative magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) visualization software for catheter procedures that can both decrease disease recurrence and procedure time. 

“It’s obviously exciting to see a large conference such as ICAIR associated with KITE and UHN seeing value in therapies that are looking for cures for heart disease,” said Cook. Helixir Medical received $2,500 for its first place finish.

“The money from this award will go directly towards developing our product from a research project into a commercial product.” 

Shaghayegh Chavoshian of TRUSTE Inc., and Davood Dadkhah of PostureCoach placed second and third in the competition. They will receive $1,500 and $1,000 respectively. 

Three Minute Talk Competition

The Three Minute Talk Competition (3MT) challenges young scientists to present their research findings in three minutes or less. Authors of the top 20 posters submitted for the ICAIR Conference poster competition are invited to participate.

KITE trainee Shaghayegh Chavoshian was awarded the first place award for her research “The Effect of Obstructive Sleep Apnea on Daytime Airway Narrowing in Older Adults with Asthma Exposed to Cold Temperature.” 

KITE trainees Nicholas Moser and Rachael Carson finished second and third place respectively. 

Three Minute Talk Competition Winners Nicholas Moser, from left, Shaghayegh Chavoshian, and Rachael Carson, with BioMedical Engineering Online Editor-in-Chief  Dr. Ervin Sejdic and Springer Nature Publishing Editor Selene Carey 

ICAIR Scientific Spotlight Series

The ICAIR Scientific Spotlight Series is a competition event in which authors of prominent research papers, as selected by ICAIR’s scientific committee, present their findings in person. 

Topics showcased during the series include Aging, Cardiac Care, Long-Term Care, Musculoskeletal, Neuroscience & Spinal Cord Injury. Winners of this competition are awarded ICAIR’s Paper of the Year Award. 

Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos, Associate Professor in Criminology and Justice at Faculty of Social Science and Humanities at Ontario Tech University, was award top prize for her paper “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever been put through in my life”: the trauma experienced by essential family caregivers of loved ones in long-term care during the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

University of Washington research assistant professor Dr. Fatma Inanici and KITE affiliate scientist Dr. Gabriela Melo Ghisi finished second and third place respectively. 

ICAIR Scientific Spotlight Series Award Winners Dr. Vivian Stamatopoulos, from left, and Dr. Gabriela Melo Ghisi with Springer Nature Publishing Editor Selene Carey, and BioMedical Engineering Online Editor-in-Chief Dr. Ervin Sejdic and KITE director Dr. Milos R. Popovic

Rehabilitation Sciences Institute Best Poster Award in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

This award is given to trainees whose research considers equity, diversity and inclusion in substantial and meaningful ways within the research design and impact on healthcare or age-tech sectors.

KITE Director Dr. Milos R. Popovic, from left, with RSI Best Poster Award in Equity Diversity and Inclusion winners Juliana Nunes Da Silva and Renato Barbosa dos Santos along with RSI professor Dr. Alison Novak