SPARK at the University of Calgary

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SPARK at the University of Calgary


SPARK at the University of Calgary
The SPARK program aims to increase the impact of academic-driven digital health innovations that will benefit patients in clinical and community settings. The program provides participating projects with industry advisors, education sessions, project management support, and in-kind resources to take their social or commercial project to the next stage of development. SPARK at the University of Calgary is located within the W21C Research and Innovation Centre and is co-led by Dr. Scott Kraft, MD, and Nicola Quiggin, forming part of W21C’s digital health strategy.

SPARK Global
Established in 2006 at Stanford University’s School of Medicine, the SPARK translational research program creates unique partnerships between university and industry to advance research discoveries. Over the 13 years of operation the SPARK program has achieved 62% success as measured by the number of projects that are either commercialized (by licensing to a start-up or existing company) or moved into clinical trials. The SPARK model has been adopted by 70 academic institutions from around the world. Collectively known as SPARK Global, this network supports a wide range of health care innovations such as drug development, diagnostics, and digital health. SPARK at the University of Calgary is the first and currently only active Canadian site.

Program Structure

SPARK at the University of Calgary is comprised of four components.

  • Advisory – project teams present to a group of industry experts on a bimonthly basis and receive advice through allocated discussion time.
  • Education – teams attend biweekly educational sessions on a range of topics to provide foundational skills and knowledge to support their product and business development.
  • Project Management Support – project teams meet monthly with the SPARK team to receive project management support and guidance
  • Resources – the SPARK program is able to identify and facilitate access to relevant services to aid project development with the W21C Research and Innovation Centre, the University of Calgary, and with SPARK partner organizations.

Participation Criteria

To be eligible to participate, the project must be a University of Calgary based academic innovation that is developing a novel approach to an unmet medical need using digital health solutions. Project team members can include University of Calgary students, staff, and faculty. Innovations must be in the early stages of solution development i.e., ‘pre start-up’.


For general inquiries about SPARK at the University of Calgary, please contact If you are interested in hearing more about SPARK and receive information on other W21C events, please e-mail to request to be added to our mailing list.

Meet the 2020 Teams

Cortian Medical Technologies

Using travel time to save brain: Remote ischemic conditioning for the pre-hospital treatment of acute ischemic stroke

Acute ischemic stroke causes rapid neuronal death due to a loss of blood flow in the brain. No prehospital treatments currently exist that can help mitigate these losses during transport time to a stroke centre. The innovation uses remote ischemic conditioning (RIC), a tissue-protective strategy that promotes cell survival and repair, while inhibiting cellular death and inflammatory pathways. The device is comprised of four centrally-controlled blood pressure cuffs that will cycle between occlusion of blood flow and reperfusion for specified time intervals to provide a non-invasive treatment modality that can be delivered with ease in an ambulance.

Team members: Noam Anglo, Dr. Aravind Ganesh, MD, Kyle Guild, Brittney Herrington, Maliyat Noor, Ryan Rosentreter

EcZema Baby Solutions

EcZema Baby strives to make eczema care for children under 4 years more effective, convenient and integrated. EcZema Baby is a comprehensive mobile platform for caregivers of children with eczema, consisting of three interconnected tools that uses machine learning to provide immediate information on their baby’s skin condition, while providing a validated treatment plan. Additionally, Eczema Baby has developed two tools that can further assist in quantitively tracking their baby’s skin, and actively apply medication as needed.

Team Members: Jose Uriel Perez, Govind Peringod, Dr. Michele Ramien, MD


HappyMapper is a game used primarily for children with neuromotor disorders during non-invasive active brain mapping administered under the supervision of clinicians. Therapy results are measured and tracked while they play. This approach replaces the traditional method of measuring results that were often difficult to administer due to the tedious, cumbersome, and error prone nature of those tests.

Team Members: Jeremy Bilic, Joice El-Mehallawy, Abigayle LeFranc, Pauline Mouches, James Nguy, Lily Pollreis

HOPE Digital Mental Health Platform

HOPE is a doorway into comprehensive mental healthcare/prevention, offering a virtual single point of entry for mental health e-screening, e-referral and e-therapy.

Team Members: Dr. Dawn Kingston, RN, PhD, Lindsay Murray, Nicola Roy


Virtual Suicide Prevention training to increase Efficacy, Abilities, and Knowledge in Schools

Aiming to help teachers learn how to talk to students about suicide with the creation of a virtual human. Teachers can practice talking to the virtual student in a risk-free environment with this innovative tool for school-based suicide prevention. This technology has the potential for widespread impact on teachers across Canada and the health of the youth they serve.

Team members: Dr. Liz Baker PhD, Dr. Deinera Exner-Cortens, PhD, David Gisu Ham, Liam Harrison, Daphne Nakhid, Gurnoor Singh Aujla