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MAKO Invent boosts startups

From left: James Chalmers, Andr é Bertram and Frank Nguyen

From left: MAKO’s vice-president, James Chalmers presents André Bertram and Frank Nguyen of HelpWear with their Student Innovation Award.

“Everybody has a certain charitable sector that is close to their heart. Mine has always been education,” says Kevin Mako, founder of MAKO Invent, Canada’s biggest physical consumer product development firm.

MAKO was an early supporter of Ryerson’s Design Fabrication Zone (DFZ), an interdisciplinary incubation hub within the collaborative and mentor-supported zone learning ecosystem at the university. Zone learning has earned Ryerson an international reputation for fostering innovation and helping the next wave of changemakers and entrepreneurs translate their ideas into real-life ventures.

MAKO furthered its partnership by recently creating the MAKO Student Innovation Award. The firm’s generous gift was double-matched by Ryerson’s Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship and the university itself, bringing a total of $105,000 in support to young inventors and entrepreneurs over the next 10 years – the largest cross-zone innovation award to date at Ryerson.

“Ryerson’s reputation has become worldwide as a leader in student incubation and entrepreneurial development. The university’s vision in this area is a perfect match for MAKO Invent,” says Mako.  “It’s very important to our business to grow the overall consumer product development community.”

The inaugural winner of this new award was announced at the DMZ. HeartWatch, a wearable device that monitors a user’s heart rate, ECG, blood oxygen levels, and calls for help in an emergency, took home the prize. The invention is the first product designed by HelpWear, a company founded by Frank Nguyen and André Bertram. The first prototype was developed at Ryerson’s Basecamp, a six-week program for budding entrepreneurs, and has been further benefitting from the help of the Biomedical Zone, a health-tech incubator and joint venture between Ryerson and St. Michael’s Hospital.

“There are a lot of people who believe in us and it’s nice to feel the support,” says Bertram. “We’ve been working with cardiologists, ER physicians, and industry professionals, and we’ve also had the opportunity to meet many of our future customers, which I think is most important to Frank and me.” 

The next MAKO Student Innovation Award will be offered in 2017. Any student participating in a Ryerson zone with a physical prototype of their product is encouraged to apply. 

Please visit http://ow.ly/rvEj300KZ9S for more info on the award.

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