TORONTO, January 23, 2017
Winterlight Labs, a Toronto-based company commercializing a speech-based platform for accurately detecting cognitive conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, recently closed the first tranche of $500,000 in seed funding from Novatio Ventures, an early stage life sciences investment firm.
Peng Fu, General Partner of Novatio Ventures, said “Winterlight’s highly innovative digital health platform is supported by well-establish clinical evidence and has the potential to re-define how cognitive conditions are screened, diagnosed and monitored. The opportunities for the platform range from accurate, cost-effective patient screening for clinical trials to adoption as the backbone to support for personalized patient care. We’re pleased to be supporting Winterlight with this investment and we look forward to working with the team to develop the business.”.
Currently, diagnosis for dementia and Alzheimer’s is done via pencil-and-paper tests and can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. By contrast, Winterlight uses a simple one-to-five minute sample of a person’s speech to detect cognitive issues automatically with an 85% to 100% level of accuracy, representing a significant improvement over current methods.
“We’re very excited to announce the completion of this financing,” added Liam Kaufman, CEO of Winterlight, “and we’re equally as excited to be working with the Novatio team. They have a great deal of expertise in the space, and are a fantastic partner for us as we commercialize our platform.”
In 2017, Winterlight will also join Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS @ Toronto. JLABS @ Toronto is a 40,000 square-foot life science innovation center. The labs provide a flexible environment for start-up companies pursuing new technologies and research platforms to advance medical care. Through a "no strings attached" model, Johnson & Johnson Innovation does not take an equity stake in the companies occupying JLABS and the companies are free to develop products - either on their own, or by initiating a separate external partnership with Johnson & Johnson Innovation or any other company.
Winterlight Labs is commercializing a proprietary language-based diagnostic system that analyzes natural speech to detect and monitor dementia, Alzheimer’s, aphasia, and various other cognitive conditions. Winterlight's scalable platform uses short recorded speech samples to analyze hundreds of linguistic cues, and can detect dementia and other conditions with a high level of accuracy. This is a major improvement over current pencil-and-paper tests which are time-consuming, costly, and difficult to administer. The platform has applications in drug trials, long-term and primary care, and speech-language pathology.
Since its founding, Winterlight Labs has seen strong interest from pharmaceutical companies and other potential partners who view the technology as a major improvement over current methods of detection or screening. The company has gained support from the pan-Canadian AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE), the Ontario Brain Institute, Ontario Centres of Excellence, and the University of Toronto Banting and Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. For more information, visit www.winterlightlabs.com.
Liam Kaufman, CEO
liam [at] winterlightlabs.com