Innodem Neurosciences Receives 1 Million Dollars in Funding to Give a Voice to Voiceless Patients

Montreal, Quebec, CANADA

MONTREAL, Feb. 19, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- CENTECH’s Innodem Neurosciences, a Montreal-based start-up that spun-out of McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital (The NEURO) less than one year ago, has developed an AI driven mobile software technology allowing paralyzed or intubated patients to communicate with caregivers solely through eye movements.

The Honorable Pierre Fitzgibbon, Minister of Economy and Innovation for the government of Quebec, recently made an announcement at CENTECH recognizing the importance of the start- up culture in Quebec’s quest for innovation. Mr. Fitzgibbon highlighted the important contribution of CENTECH’s ecosystem, which includes Innodem’s award-winning team.

Founded by neurologist Dr. Etienne De Villers-Sidani, Innodem received the backing of $1 million in financing from angel, banking and government entities to begin commercialization efforts. The company will market Pigio™  – Innodem’s first mobile App – within a consortium of local Montreal hospitals, outpatient clinics, and rehabilitation centers. Pigio™ will also be deployed in the USA in a Massachusetts hospital in Boston and healthcare facilities in California. “We have also been contacted by a healthcare giant in China with a footprint of 1500 hospitals” added Innodem’s co-founder & Chief Strategy Officer, Marc Reeves.

The Standard of Care today is a printed letterboard. Other emerging eye-tracking solutions require the use of dedicated and expensive hardware such as infrared cameras that are very sensitive to sunlight and do not work with patients wearing glasses. They also require constant re-calibration if the device is accidentally moved. Current eye-tracking systems designed for paralyzed individuals sell for upwards of $8,000 and require a lengthy ordering process, making them both unaffordable and inaccessible for most patients and clinical units. Pigio™ is expected to be available to the public during the spring of 2019 on the Apple App store. The Pigio™ app will be free, with in-app advanced features selling at $39.95/month or $360 for a yearly license. No additional hardware, other than an electronic tablet or smartphone, is necessary.

Pigio™ uses patent-pending image-processing technology to capture eye movements with high precision, using the standard cameras found on most electronic tablets and smartphones. This process allows patients to move the cursor across a tablet or smartphone’s screen to a desired location using only their eye movements. Simply looking at an item on the screen for a certain amount of time triggers a text-to-speech engine, which produces an audible output.

Pigio™’s initial focus is to provide an innovative and accessible way for the most vulnerable patients to communicate, ultimately improving patient care and quality of life. Subsequent applications of the technology based on state-of-the-art machine learning will assist healthcare professionals in detecting unique and subtle eye movement signatures found in several neurological disorders such as stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), or multiple sclerosis. “Eye movement data can be used as sensitive biomarkers to assist healthcare professionals in detecting several neurodegenerative illnesses prior to the onset of more pronounced symptoms”, says Innodem founder and CEO Dr. Etienne de Villers Sidani. “The interesting thing with AI is that the more data we collect, the more accurate Pigio™ will become at identifying individuals with disorders and tracking their progression. Such a technology could be extremely valuable to many physicians and to pharmaceutical companies designing novel treatments”.


Founded in 2016, Innodem Neurosciences was officially launched after it received its first round of Angel funding in May 2018. Innodem’s core team, led by Dr. Étienne de Villers-Sidani, is composed of an intersectoral group of neuroscientists, engineers and healthcare professionals. Innodem has developed Pigio™, a mobile App powered by patent-pending eye-tracking technology that makes use of state-of-the-art machine learning techniques. Pigio™ is currently being deployed and tested in various hospitals throughout North America and is expected to be available to the general public during the spring of 2019. Pigio™ is to become the new standard of care for speechless patients that are intubated in the ICU or affected by the many neurological disorders leading to an inability to speak, both in children and adults. Furthermore, the company is developing cutting edge diagnostics-assistance applications for healthcare professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and clinical research organizations conducting clinical trials.


Created in 1996 by the École de Technologie Supérieure and located in the heart of Montreal’s Quartier de l’innovation, CENTECH is a tech entrepreneurial centre dedicated to technology companies with high growth potential. Recognized by UBI (University Business Network) as one of the world’s most effective accelerators, CENTECH acts as a veritable growth machine. It has created one of the greatest densities of high-level tech entrepreneurs in Canada. Furthermore, Centech is now offering open innovation cells to corporations that can integrate major corporations and companies seeking to design new products and give them an opportunity to benefit from the agility of start-ups and from Centech’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.

SOURCE Innodem Neurosciences
For further information: Francis Arseneau, Director, 

SOURCE Centre de l’entrepreneurship technologique (Centech)
For further information: Richard Chenier, (514) 918-6811, 

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