Tech firms to watch: Neurovine set to expand reach of AI-powered concussion treatment

 Ashleigh Kennedy
Ashleigh Kennedy is the co-founder of Neurovine.

Co-founder Ashleigh Kennedy says 2020 was both challenging and rewarding for Neurovine, a health-tech startup that uses artificial intelligence to help track the recovery and progress of concussion patients.

Launched by Kennedy and her husband Matthew, Neurovine plans to build a personalized solution that can tell concussion patients when they’re pushing their physical or mental exertion too far and offer a tailored recovery road map that will help doctors prescribe better treatments.

The company launched virtual trials of its wearable technology last year after landing hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from a group of investors led by Jeff Hunt, a former partner in the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group. 

The nine-person organization originally based the clinical trials of the technology at the Bruyère Research Institute, but when the COVID-19 lockdown put a stop to all in-person sessions in early 2020, Neurovine’s team requested permission to host the trials remotely. 

The shift involved a bit of trial and error, but Kennedy now says the company’s system is on track for regulatory approval as a Class 2 medical device in both Canada and the United States later this year. That would allow doctors, physiotherapists and other health-care professionals to “prescribe” the technology as a treatment for patients experiencing post-concussion symptoms.

“The prescription piece for us is key to really making the technology accessible to patients.”

“The prescription piece for us is key to really making the technology accessible to patients,” says Kennedy, adding that if all goes well, the wearable technology that uses machine-learning algorithms to track patients’ concussion recovery and progress will be on the market by this fall.

So far, Neurovine has raised nearly $1 million in seed funding. In addition to Hunt, other contributors include the Capital Angel Network, LaunchHub, York Angels, Maple Leaf Angels and a network of doctors called HaloHealth.

The most notable characteristic of that group is that every one of the contributors is based in Canada. Kennedy would dearly love to continue that trend as she turns her attention toward a series-A round that’s expected to close in the coming months.

“I’d love to keep our roots here,” she says. 

Neurovine has enlisted Christopher Mulvanny, a California-based health-tech finance veteran who now serves as the firm’s virtual CFO, to help spearhead its fundraising efforts. Kennedy knows that the odds of finding the necessary capital to scale up Neurovine without tapping into U.S. sources are slim, but she’s determined to make her company a truly Canadian ​– and Ottawa ​– success story. 

“The amount that you need to raise in a company like ours is huge,” Kennedy concedes. “Medical technology is risky. As Canadians, we’re conservative and risk-averse. So (we’re) trying to figure out how we can raise the amount required to have it (remain) a successful Canadian story as opposed to flying south to make it work.”