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Toronto-based social enterprise takes top spot at Parapan Am accessibility tech pitch contest

TORONTO, Aug. 11, 2015 /CNW/ - A social enterprise company that has developed a next-generation prosthetic knee took first place in Ontario Centres of Excellence's (OCE's) Parapan Am Games-affiliated Accessibility Tech Pitch competition. The company immediately said it would use the $20,000 award to fit 200 amputees in developing countries with its device.

Toronto-based Legworks, which is also an OCE-supported company, was selected from 18 participants in a two-day elimination pitch competition – one of the features of the Government of Ontario's Accessibility Innovation Showcase held at MaRS Discovery District August 8-10.

"The Legworks prosthetic is an amazing example of the innovative work being done in the field of assistive devices and technologies by Ontario companies," says OCE President and CEO Dr. Tom Corr. "I want to applaud and thank all of the companies that participated in the competition and I look forward to seeing what they come up with next."

Legworks was one of five companies to make it to the final round of the competition. Other finalists were Eightfold Technologies, MyndTec, BresoTec Inc., and Komodo OpenLabs.

"Ontario is a hub for the kind of innovation that is not only creating jobs and strengthening our economy but, as this competition and the whole showcase proved, is also improving the lives of persons with disabilities through increased accessibility here at home and around the world," said Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation.

LegWorks has developed an innovative, high-performing and affordable prosthetic knee that enables amputees to walk efficiently, safely and at multiple walking speeds. It is also durable and low maintenance, making it ideal for use in both the developed and developing world where prosthetics can be out of reach for many because of the cost.

"Winning the Accessibility Innovation Showcase Tech Pitch was amazing validation of our product and social business model," said Emily Mochizuki Lutyens, co-CEO of Legworks. "Our goal is for every amputee around the world to walk with confidence on affordable and high-performing prosthetic devices."

She acknowledged Legworks CTO Dr. Jan Andrysek and his work with Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital over the past 10 years to bring the technology to market along with support from OCE, Grand Challenges Canada and MaRS Innovation.

The Accessibility Innovation Showcase was the first of its kind and is an official part of the Parapan Am Games. In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act and the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, this high profile event brought together top innovators, investors, local and international dignitaries, government and the public.

Over the weekend, companies pitched their products to panels made up of experts and investors in two rounds.

About Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) Inc. (www.oce-ontario.org)

Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) drives the commercialization of cutting-edge research to build the economy of tomorrow and secure Ontario's global competitiveness. OCE fosters the training and development of the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs and is a key partner with Ontario's industry, universities, colleges, research hospitals, domestic and foreign investors, and government ministries. A champion of leading-edge technologies, best practices, innovation, entrepreneurship and research, OCE invests in such areas as advanced health, information and communications technology, digital media, advanced materials and manufacturing, agri-food, aerospace, transportation, energy, and the environment including water and mining. OCE is a key partner in delivering Ontario's Innovation Agenda as a member of the province's Ontario Network of Entrepreneurs (ONE), which helps Ontario-based entrepreneurs and industry rapidly grow their company and create jobs. Learn more at www.onebusiness.ca

SOURCE Ontario Centres of Excellence Inc.

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