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VitaSound Inc. wins Mind to Market award

Hearing technology developed by McMaster researchers recognized by Ontario Centres of Excellence
VitaSound Inc. wins Mind to Market award

From left to right: Michael Nobrega, OMERS President and CEO / OCE Board Member, the Honourable Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Innovation, President and CEO Gora Ganguli, Professor Sue Becker, and Dr. Tom Corr, President and CEO of OCE.

By Danelle D'Alvise, Research Communications

October 24, 2012

It's a research story that goes back at least a decade, when the Intelligent Hearing Aid group was formed at McMaster. Sue Becker -- working with colleagues Laurel Trainor, Ron Racine and John Platt from the department of psychology, neuroscience & behaviour, and Simon Haykin and Ian Bruce, from electrical and computer engineering -- saw hearing aid technogies as an area where there was huge room for improvement. The group's combined interests in hearing loss, brain plasticity, and the brain's ability to relearn how to hear, provided the research that grew into a new technology developed by Becker: the Neuro-compensator device now being sold by Hamilton-based VitaSound Audio Inc.

The innovative hearing loss solution recently earned VitaSound the prestigious 2012 Mind to Market Award from the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE). The Mind to Market Award honours and celebrates the best OCE-supported research collaboration between the business and research communities resulting in the commercialization of leading-edge ideas and solutions. Award recipients exemplify the innovation that is possible when the brightest minds in industry and academia collaborate to address today’s most critical issues.

The six finalists for the award included Spectral Applied Research, whose long-standing research collaboration with McMaster University's Qiyin Fang, associate professor, engineering physics and Canada Research Chair in Biophotonics, has been key to  the company's success in the area of of custom optical instrumentation.

The finalists were judged on four criteria: innovation collaboration, commercialization, and the 'Wow!' factor. VitaSound Audio President and CEO Gora Ganguli can sum up the company’s innovative hearing loss solution and "wow" factor in one word.

“Revolutionary,” he enthuses. “That’s not just us saying it, that’s from consumers using the technology. We truly think we have the next big thing to bring better hearing to more people.”

VitaSound currently employs more than 60 people in Canada with its products sold through traditional retail outlets like Walmart and Walgreens Pharmacy across North America as well as specialized hearing centres with more sales locations on the way.

“VitaSound’s unique technology is not only a testament to the incredible research and development being undertaken in Ontario, it is also improving the lives of Ontarians,” says Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Innovation. “This award recognizes the time and effort involved in developing this cutting-edge advancement in the treatment of hearing loss.”

VitaSound Audio was also the winner of this year's Innovation Showcase Industry Partner Award, which recognizes corporations who have made a significant  contribution to developing the University's research mandate.

To view the video about VitaSound’s award-winning innovation and the other five award finalists, visit OCE Mind to Market Finalists on YouTube. For OCE's news release click here

Photo courtesy of Ontario Centres of Excellence.