McGill Neuroscience Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program

What is the McGill Neuroscience Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program?

The McGill Dobson Centre for Entrepreneurship is partnering with NeuroSphere, McGill's neuroscience accelerator funded through Healthy Brains Healthy Lives, to offer an entrepreneurship program tailored specifically to neuroscience innovations.

The McGill Neuroscience Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program is a tailored learning approach intended specifically for scientific researchers. It is designed to help take you from the idea stage to developing and launching a viable startup, while immersing you into the world of entrepreneurship.

Through informative workshops, mentoring and advising sessions with industry and subject matter experts, as well as self-directed work on your go-to-market strategy, you will gain exposure to business frameworks and tools to diagnose your idea and generate challenging, yet feasible goals for your startup. You will also acquire a general understanding of key business concepts needed to bring your vision to life.

By the end of the program, you will have the business acumen, the confidence and the clarity to present your idea to various stakeholders and take your business to the next stage.

View the Program Brochure

Program Overview

Target Date: September 22 – October 13, 2020

Duration: 4 weeks - workshops every Tuesday from 6 – 9 PM

Key Learning Themes

Lean Startup Turning An Idea Into A Business

  • Why some startups fail and others succeed: stages, pitfalls and best-practices
  • Protecting your IP
  • Validating a proof of concept
  • The framework to creating a viable product
  • Building a business plan


ACTION LEARNING: Throughout the program, participants work with their teams on achieving milestones related to their startup idea. This process is a crucial component of the program and will ultimately lead to the development of a viable startup concept.

WEEKLY WORKSHOPS: The central platform for introducing strategic frameworks and business concepts that guide the process of turning an idea into a business. Workshops also provide the opportunity to bridge theory with real-world application through stories, examples and insights from guest speakers. Workshops will generally last 2 hours but we reserve an extra hour for guest speakers and mentors.

2020 Cohort

ePRS cluster

The decreasing costs of technologies involving the use of genetic information have expanded the use of this technology by many scientists in different studies. However, the use of this technology imposes challenges and requires highly specialized personnel. We propose to create a specialized cluster that could accommodate this service and provide a faster solution to different needs, by means of immediate access to processing pipelines, designing and deriving polygenic scores, and/or interpreting and communicating results. Such facility could accelerate the process of scientific discovery and optimize the use of valuable data from small scale studies. Ultimately, this service will contribute for improving individuals’ health and Canadian human capital.


  • Patricia Silveira, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University

  • Irina Pokhvisneva, Research Associate, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, McGill

  • André Krumel Portella, Reseach Associate, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University


Persistent Care Monitor

ICU patients are the most vulnerable in the hospital, but doctors have poor access to time series data to make inferences about direction of care, and they have no knowledge on the wakefulness of the patient, which can have a huge impact on responses to treatment.

Our startup aims to commercialize a device that we have developed which actively logs patient's critical signals as well as treatment regimen, alongside wakefulness status. This information is crucial for detecting and possibly preventing delirium in the ICU.


  • Reza Farivar, Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University



Early diagnosis of any disease is vital to preventing or delaying disease progression. This is especially important in diseases like ataxia, a disease that has over 40 subtypes, as accurate diagnosis of the subtype can inform the best intervention. Physicians often rely on observable symptoms like gait abnormality, which is a difficult task as the gait differences between each subtype are subtle. Further, by the time the patient’s symptoms are observable and treatment is begun, it is often later in the disease progression which reduces the patients’ chance of full recovery. WALK-AI is a machine designed to assist physicians in accurately diagnosing subtypes of ataxias prior to symptom onset. By harnessing the power of machine learning, WALK-AI is programmed to detect close to 100 well-known features from gait and balance before disease onset. Subtle changes in motor coordination that may go unnoticed by human eyes will be picked up by sensitive detectors. Based on these features, WALK-AI determines the likelihood of each subtype of ataxias. With the help of WALK-AI, physicians will be better equipped to diagnose ataxia at an earlier stage and prescribe appropriate intervention, improving patients’ prognoses and quality of life.


  • Eviatar Fields, PhD student, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University
  • Sophia Leung, PhD student, Faculty of Science, McGill University


Untitled Project 1 

Integrating genomic technologies in patients with neuropsychiatric disorders to identify the cause (e.g. diseases of Mendelian or complex inheritance) is currently challenging. This impedes precision medicine in psychiatry, and thus effective treatment of the patients. With recent advancements in genomic technologies, we have access to massive amounts of genomic data. However, the potential benefits of these data to patient care are not fully harnessed.

We have a patented (Canada, Europe) approach which integrates genomic data with phenotypes to rank genetic diseases to allow for a more efficient and automated clinical diagnostic process. Our approach facilitates the clinical translation of the genomic technologies in psychiatry (e.g. it minimizes the extent of human resources needed for data analysis and simplifies the informed consent process).

We plan to start a non-profit start-up at the intersection of genomics, machine learning (ML) and neuropsychiatric disease. Our objective is to develop a platform powered by ML and other computational models to help physicians in diagnosing patients with neuropsychiatric diseases based on their genomic information and enable (novel) targeted treatments. We plan to offer our platform as a service to clinicians, and any revenue generated will be reinvested into expanding research and development within the non-profit.


  • Sameer Sardaar, Department of Human Genetics, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

  • Bill Qi, PhD Candidate, Faculty of Medicine, McGill University

  • Yannis Trakadis, Assistant Professor, Human Genetics, McGill University Health Centre


Untitled Project 2 

Building resilience against Alzheimer’s Disease

Dr. Bohbot developed a computerized program utilizing virtual reality to stimulate memory and plasticity in the healthy older adult hippocampus and neocortex, offering resilience against Alzheimer’s disease. Studies in the literature have demonstrated that patients with severe Alzheimer’s disease pathology (amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles), but with a larger hippocampus and neocortex, lived autonomous lives without ever being diagnosed. These studies suggest that a larger hippocampus and neocortex are critical to healthy cognition. In three independent randomized clinical trials (RCT) totaling 96 participants, the fully automated 16-hour VeboLife program (patented and patent pending) showed significant improvements on cognitive measures as well as increased grey matter in the hippocampus relative to an active placebo group. Importantly, the placebo condition showed significant deterioration of the hippocampus relative to the experimental group. Therefore, stimulation of the hippocampus and neocortices with VeboLife is protective of healthy cognition in aging and may offer resilience against Alzheimer’s disease.


  • Véronique Bohbot, Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University

Program Application 

Ideal Participant Profile

This program is for McGill-affiliated researchers and trainees that have been working on an idea, discovery or prototype - ideally for 3 months or more, that are looking to legitimize their concept and move towards launching a startup.

You or your team has at least one founder that is a McGill University student, faculty member or staff member.

You or your team has at least one technical co-founder, and can build your business upon a technology, science, or idea that is significantly or radically disruptive.

The project must be aligned with one of HBHL’s research themes

A commitment towards attending all the workshops and executing the project work is required.

Applications are currently closed. Please email us at dobson.mgmt [at] (subject: Neuroscience%20Lean%20Startup) for any inquiries. 

Have questions about the program? Contact Kika Armata for more information: dobson.mgmt [at]

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