Biofix Medical Technologies, a Halifax company development a bone cement, has won the $45,000 BioInnovation Challenge for 2015.

BioNova, the Nova Scotia Life Sciences association, announced the winners at its annual BioPort Atlantic conference Wednesday in Halifax.  The winner of the fifth annual BioInnovation Challenge will take home $15,000 in a cash investment to cover development costs and $30,000 in in-kind services.

Founded by CEO Caitlin Pierlot and CTO Brett Dickey, Biofix is developing a non-toxic bone cement that can be injected into the vertebrae of osteoporosis patients who have suffered a fracture. There are now 700,000 such fractures a year in the U.S., and Biofix is pioneering a minimally invasive procedure to cure them that would be inexpensive for hospitals and convenient for patients.  

“The technology’s been developed over the last five years and we’ve been working very closely with clinicians in the field to make sure that we’re developing the product they want,” Pierlot, who received a PhD in biomedical engineering from Dalhousie University last year, said during the semifinals on Tuesday. “They love it.”

She said the non-toxic, glass-based bone cement is made with properties matched to bones and can be adapted for other medical applications.

Pierlot and Dickey are now doing clinical studies. They are seeking $1.3 million in equity investment, with the goal of gaining Federal Drug Administration approval for the product by the second quarter of 2018. They would then hope to gain regulatory approval in the EU and Canada.

The runners-up in the competition were: Help Method, which analyzes brain patterns to diagnose mental illness, and is focusing at first on treating soldiers suffering on post-traumatic stress disorder; and RetiCAD, which uses imaging technology to fight diseases caused by leaky blood vessels, such as dementia, epilepsy and – the initial focus of the company – blindness caused by diabetes.

“We had a great cohort this year, an excellent judging panel, and the three finalists presented extremely well today,” said BioNova Chair Brian Lowe in a statement. “All three companies deserve the win, but there can only be one and BioFix Medical Technologies came out on top and I wish them every success moving forward.”

The judging panel comprised Amine Benmoussa, Associate Director, BDC Capital, Toronto; Ross Finlay, Co-Founder and Director of the First Angel Network, Halifax; and Lidija Marusic, an investment manager with Innovacorp, Halifax.