How one Canadian startup is using AI to make life better for people with chronic conditions
Vancouver‑based Canadian startup Bio Conscious combines its expertise in health care and artificial intelligence (AI) to make big strides in improving quality of life for people with chronic conditions. With support from the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service’s (TCS) Canadian Technology Accelerator (CTA) program, the company has been able to make its innovative Diabits technology available to people in and around Boston, Massachusetts.
In close proximity to Canada, greater Boston offers a unique entrepreneurial and business ecosystem, with cutting‑edge innovation in industries like health care and technology. The region boasts dozens of renowned research universities, clusters of forward‑thinking companies, a large number of investors, multinational companies, and close ties between entrepreneurs and large firms.
It only made sense for Bio Conscious’s CEO Amir Hayeri to take the leap and expand in Boston. Coming from a family of medical professionals, he developed a passion for AI early on as he saw the importance it would hold for the future of health care.
When Bio Conscious was getting off its feet in 2015, most existing health care tools focused on treatment rather than prevention. Seeing a gap in available technologies motivated Bio Conscious to develop its flagship product, Diabits, a tool that uses the power of intelligent algorithms to help people with diabetes predict changes in blood glucose levels. This technology allows them to anticipate changes, make the right adjustments, and, most importantly, avoid life‑threatening situations like hypoglycemia, helping them enjoy more freedom, flexibility and a significantly improved quality of life.
Amir Hayeri, CEO of Bio Conscious
But in the medical industry, even the best innovations can take time and effort to grab the attention of busy health care providers and researchers. Despite some early interest from digital health companies, Bio Conscious lacked the support and momentum it needed to succeed. Hayeri knew that his company needed a push to take Diabits to the next level. Enter the CTA.
To help his company navigate the United States market and pursue the next steps in building a successful international business, Hayeri reached out to the TCS in Boston to participate in its CTA program.
“The Canadian Technology Accelerator has three pillars of success: education about the local market, strategic mentoring and business development,” says Serban Georgescu, the Trade Commissioner responsible for digital health in Boston. “Bio Conscious started to understand the local market, what they need to offer and how to present it.”
Another key component of the CTA is its ability to reduce risk for companies. We all know navigating a new market can be overwhelming, even if it is to our neighbours in the U.S.
“Going into a new market is really exciting, but it can also be extremely dangerous. When you run a startup, you have to be strategic with your resources,” says Hayeri. “Nine out of 10 startups fail because they run out of money, so it is really important to have the right partners and the correct understanding of a new market to make sure your expansion is successful into a new market. The CTA is the perfect program for those who would like to break into a new market to make sure that they have a good idea of what they are getting into. This is the difference between a successful startup and the rest.”
For companies like Bio Conscious and many others, Boston is a perfect living lab for Canadian startups looking to test the expansion of their sales in the U.S. market. Opportunities for face‑to‑face contact and being on the ground to establish relationships can be an important ingredient for success.
One of the things that excited Hayeri most about the CTA was the opportunity to be connected to a strong network, and to have a trusted partner at the Canadian government office in Boston.
“It was very important for us to get feedback from trusted and well reputed sources on our product. That is one of the main things that the CTA program facilitated,” says Hayeri. “It was also important for us to find legal partners that could help us understand the regulatory environment in Boston. The CTA provided us with great people who we were able to partner with.”
Hayeri adds that his company’s “mindset shifted from a startup and specialist mentality to a serious medical business.” He explains that even the process of applying for the program was valuable because it forced him to think differently about the company’s messaging, market value and other key components.
Once enrolled in the CTA in 2019, mentors helped validate and optimize the business in a way that made sense for an American audience.
“The American health care system has similarities to Canada’s; however, it actually has far more differences. A team of three, high-caliber mentors helped the company to understand the system and the local environment, to find the fit for their product, and to define their strategy for the market,” says Georgescu.
For alumni like Bio Conscious, the CTA is known for its hands‑on, tailored mentorship that really helps take companies to a new level in their international business development.
But the TCS’s support for Bio Conscious did not end after the company finished its stint in the CTA. The TCS continues to provide connections and mentorship through new client referrals, and by reviewing new business materials. “When I go into a room with a CTA representative, it increases the element of trust right off the bat,” Hayeri says. “It is really hard to find trusted partners in the U.S. CTA programs provide you with trusted partners from the start. It also increases the credibility of our work when we meet partners through the program in the U.S.”
When asked if he’d recommend the CTA to another life sciences company, Hayeri says: “Do it. You will learn so much through the program and meet so many people who can and will help you in the long run. The majority of the success we have in the U.S. market today is because we went through the program.”
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