Baycrest and its for-profit company, Cogniciti, awarded $764,000 to develop innovative brain health products

Toronto, June 8, 2012 – Toronto-based Cogniciti Inc., a for-profit company co-founded by Baycrest and MaRS, today announced that it will receive $764,000 from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), administered by the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI), to develop a suite of digital products for consumers and the workplace that target memory and brain health. Cogniciti will provide matching funds, bringing the total value of this product development program to over $1.5 million.

The funding is part of an overall package of nearly $11 million being provided through FedDev Ontario’s Technology Development Program to support 14 Ontario neurotechnology projects, each with the aim of growing Ontario’s neuroscience sector, enhancing the competitiveness of local brain technology companies and bringing innovative brain technologies to market in Canada and abroad.

“Traditionally brain health evaluation is a multi-step process provided by specialists. However, for routine, widespread screening, this delivery model is no longer practical,” said Veronika Litinski, Cogniciti COO. “Cogniciti will now have an opportunity to provide consumers with engaging and empowering tools to take an active role in understanding and managing their brain health.”

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization reported that the number of people worldwide with the most severe form of memory loss – dementia – is expected to triple by 2050 to more than 100 million adults. The same report recommended the development of programs that focus on improving early diagnosis, providing better care and giving more support to caregivers.

The suite of digital products being developed by Baycrest and Cogniciti Inc. will directly deal with these issues. The initial Cogniciti product will be an Online Memory Assessment that is designed to help adults answer the question, “Is my memory normal or should I see my doctor?” The test involves a variety of mentally challenging and time-sensitive exercises that probe immediate memory, delayed memory, attention, executive function and consistency. An overall test result will indicate to the person whether they have nothing to worry about or need to follow up with their doctor. This triage tool can help reduce unnecessary visits to the family doctor or hospital by the “worried well” and encourage those experiencing serious changes to their cognitive health to get help in the earliest stages when interventions are most effective.

Cogniciti’s plans are to follow the release of this screening tool with other science-based digital products that will empower adults to better care for their brains, cope with memory and attention problems they might face, and provide education and support to caregivers.

About Cogniciti

Cogniciti is a joint venture formed in 2009 through a partnership between Baycrest, a global leader in innovations in aging and brain health, and MaRS, Canada’s premier innovation centre. 
The company develops and markets evidence-based interventions to support brain health. Cogniciti leverages Baycrest’s cognitive research strengths and MaRS’ expertise in growing and scaling market-driven ventures.

About Baycrest

Headquartered on a 22-acre campus in Ontario and fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest is a global leader in developing and providing innovations in aging and brain health. Baycrest is unique in the world, combining a comprehensive system of care for aging patients, one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience, dedicated centres focused on mitigating the impact of age-related illness and impairment, and unmatched global knowledge exchange and commercialization capacity.

About FedDev Ontario

With a five-year mandate, the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) was launched in August 2009 to help respond to Ontario’s economic challenges. Through its funding initiatives, FedDev Ontario is driving economic and community development, innovation, and economic diversification, while contributing to the success of communities, businesses, educational institutions and not-for-profit organizations. All of these activities contribute to FedDev Ontario’s vision: a prosperous and globally competitive Ontario.

About the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI)

The OBI drives Ontario’s leading scientists to accelerate the discovery of new treatments for the many mental diseases and brain disorders that plague one in four Canadians. We believe that major advances in diagnosis, therapy and cure will only come from developing a new system of discovery. This means doing science differently and funding it differently as well. In both these roles, OBI acts as a catalyst. We believe breakthroughs will come faster when researchers from many disciplines, disease focuses, research platforms and institutions start working together. We also believe discoveries will result in better therapies if patients and industry representatives are involved with scientists sooner in the discovery process. We believe as well that breakthroughs in funding will happen when innovations in brain research spawn new companies and industries from a cluster of world-renowned neuroscience researchers, investors and companies. In all of this, the OBI is a new kind of nexus for funding and expanding brain research, and educating the public on its importance to Canada’s health and welfare. The OBI is a virtual institute funded, in part, by the Ontario Government. It has an independent board, mandate and non-profit status.

About MaRS

MaRS Discovery District (Twitter: @MaRSDD) is a mission-driven innovation centre located in Toronto. MaRS works with partners to catalyze, accelerate and amplify innovation. MaRS supports entrepreneurs building Canada’s next generation of growth companies.

For more information, contact:
Chris Stevenson
Director, Communications
(416) 673-8104