Two Edmonton companies will compete at a NASA event in Florida next week for a chance to send their technology to space.
The NASA iTech competition searches for technological advancements that solve problems on Earth and could help with NASA missions.
Edmonton-based companies ez enRoute and Tevosol will each have three minutes to present their ideas in Tampa on Feb.11, for the chance to advance in the current cycle of the competition.
Tevosol builds machines that aim to recreate the environment of a warm living body, allowing surgeons to transport more donor organs.
“Currently, we’re limited by what an ice box can do,” said Dr. Jayan Nagendran, Tevosol’s co-founder and surgical director of the Lung Transplant Program at the University of Alberta.
“With our technology, we can extend their lifespan and we can look at using organs that we used to think were not useable.”
Three-minute, high-pressure pitch
The ability to expand the pool of available donor organs would make a huge difference on Earth. But the technology could also have applications for those who travel in space, by providing an opportunity “to think about deep space travel and the potential of hibernation,” said Nagendran.
Animals like snails and bears hibernate, but could humans do the same? Nagendran argues his company’s technology offers a stable platform to study organs and the biology of hibernation.
He’ll have three minutes to pitch the idea to the competition’s gatekeepers. It’s a high-pressure scenario but perhaps one well-suited for a heart surgeon who regularly faces the stress of the operating room.
Nagendran also has the support of a former successful iTech alumnus, Chandra Devam. She’s CEO of Aris MD, an Edmonton tech company that won the pitch competition last year with its 3D maps for surgeons.
Devam actively encouraged other Edmonton-based tech companies to consider the NASA competition, because of the opportunities to meet with smart, influential leaders in the field.
“The fact you’re there means you’ve already won,” said Devam. “Life changes really quickly … even for the companies that don’t win.”
The other Edmonton-based company making its pitch in Florida next week is ez enRoute, which develops technology (including artificial intelligence and machine learning) that can monitor people and assets without using GPS or the internet. Their technology could be used to alert a family member when an elderly person falls, protect retail employees or keep track of equipment in remote areas.
Amit Anand, founder of the three-year-old company, said he’s looking forward to presenting and hopes the platform helps with expanding his company in the U.S. and networking with investors.