Neurotech Entrepreneurship to Validate Emerging Innovations (NERVE)

Neurotech Entrepreneurship to Validate Emerging Innovations (NERVE)

The NERVE (Neurotech Entrepreneurship to Validate Emerging Innovations) program is Canada’s single largest award that catalyzes early stage entrepreneurs to commercialize brain-related technologies by accessing funding and support to launch or grow their neurotechnology ventures.

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Program Details

Review the program offerings, terms, and conditions

  • The program awards up to 5 Canada-based early-stage entrepreneurs.
  • Preference is given to applicants who have completed a post-graduate fellowship within the past 5 years.
  • The program awards $100,000 in non-dilutive funding, access to training opportunities and workshops, and mentorship to support entrepreneurs in building and growing their neurotech company.
  • The $100,000 cash award should be used for project-related costs and may be partially used as a stipend. The allocation of funds is subject to approval by OBI and should align with the project plan.
  • Successful applicants will develop milestones for the commercialization of the neurotechnology and will sign a milestone-based agreement with OBI.
  • The funding to the entrepreneur during the one-year program will be released in 3 tranches and the release of funds is contingent on achieving milestones outlined in the milestone-based agreement between the entrepreneur and OBI.
  • Each awardee will be assigned an industry-based mentor(s) and liaise with OBI through a dedicated point of contact.
  • It is mandatory for all awardees to attend training and support programs hosted by OBI while enrolled in the program.
  • Awardees will also be invited to selective programs and events run by OBI’s partners.

Program Eligibility

Review the eligibility before submitting an application
  • The program is aimed at supporting early-stage entrepreneurs based in Canada.
  • The applicant must commit to being a full-time entrepreneur during the duration of the program.
  • The applicant must have an incorporated company or have plans to incorporate a neurotech company based in Canada.
  • The company is focused on developing and commercializing a technology based on scientific research that has a fundamental impact on how people understand, diagnose, improve or treat brain and brain-related disorders (neurological, neuropsychiatric, and/or sensory diseases). Note: programs or services are not eligible.
  • The awarded funds must be used to commercialize a neurotechnology (e.g. devices, therapeutics, software/ICT). The use of funds will be reviewed and approved by OBI.

Program Competition Guidelines

Two rounds: 1) Online Application & 2) Pitch Session

During the first round, applicants will be required to submit an online application consisting of 3 parts:

Part I: Applicant Information

This section requires basic information about the applicant.

Part II: Application Questions

This section consists of questions about the applicant’s background, company, and technology. Please be clear and concise and adhere to the word limits. Do not disclose any proprietary information.

Part III: 1-Minute Video

Applicants will record and post a 1-minute video on YouTube and provide a link to the video as instructed. The video will be used to assess how well the applicant communicates their idea and how passionate they are about commercializing their technology and building their company.

The video must not exceed one minute. The video must be set to “unlisted” on YouTube, and a link to the video must be provided when completing the online application form.

In the video, please include the following content:

  • Your full name, company name, and a one-line pitch on what your company is working on
  • A demo of your product if you have a prototype
  • In what way the NERVE program and its funding will be used to grow the company over the next year
  • What you would like to achieve through the NERVE program if selected
  • Why your idea is important

Format of the video:

  • The video should be recorded in landscape, in a quiet space with sufficient lighting.
  • You should be physically present in the video while pitching your company, demoing your product, and communicating the content listed above.
  • No captions are to be used in the video.

DISCLAIMER: Your application, including the uploaded video, will become the property of the Ontario Brain Institute. OBI reserves the right to disclose the name of the applicant and project details and/or use the video in publications and other types of media for program and/or communication purposes (e.g. including without limitation in media releases, annual reporting and advertisement). Your application may be reviewed by external judges, therefore do NOT disclose any proprietary information in this application.

Round 2: Pitch Session

Selected applicants will move forward to the second round – the Pitch Session. Applicants will be given 5 minutes to pitch to a panel of expert judges, followed by a 5-minute Q&A session. Applicants will be invited to pitch in-person or virtually, and the pitch will be recorded. The recorded session may be used in whole or in part for publications and other types of media for program and/or communication purposes (e.g. including without limitation in media releases, annual reporting and advertisements).

During the Pitch Session, applicants will be evaluated based on their technology and commercial opportunity as well as on their ability to communicate their ideas and business.

Important Dates

Below are the important dates for 2024 competition
  • April 21, 2024 – Application deadline (11:59 PM EST)
  • May 10, 2024 – Invitations sent for the pitch session
  • June 5 & 6, 2024 – Pitch sessions
  • June 2024 – Winners will be selected and notified via e-mail
  • June 2024 – Welcome/Orientation Day


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