2021 Featured Research Projects

The BMO Capital Markets Innovators’ Challenge featured three of Vancouver’s brightest medical minds, Dr. Najib Ayas, Dr. Ryan Flannigan and Dr. Martha J Ignaszewski, as they pitched their groundbreaking ideas to revolutionize patient care.

Missed the event or want to watch the presentations again? A recording of the 2021 BMO Capital Markets Innovators’ Challenge is now available for viewing below.


2021 Innovators' Challenge Event

Keynote Speaker

Dr. Carl Hansen, Chief Executive Officer, AbCellera 

Dr. Carl Hansen works at the interface of engineering, biology, and computation. He is the co-founder and CEO of AbCellera, a technology company that discovered the world’s first antibody therapy authorized in North America to treat mild to moderate COVID-19. His significant contributions to society are represented in 90 peer-reviewed manuscripts and abstracts, 75+ patent applications, 8 commercial products, two of BC’s fastest-growing biotechnology companies, and nearly 300 new jobs in BC.



Simi Sara with CKNW

Simi Sara is the award-winning host of Mornings with Simi. She joined 980 CKNW in 2010 as host of The Simi Sara Show, a fast-paced breaking news program known for its expert commentary and opinion. In 2020 Simi took the reins of the morning show, where she can be heard introducing listeners to the top stories of the day over their morning coffee. Her depth of news knowledge, thoughtful interviews, and intelligent, conversational style attracts loyal listeners to her #1 show. Mornings with Simi airs weekdays from 5:30 AM – 9 AM

Simi Sara

Accelerator Panel

Our Accelerator Panel features industry experts who asked questions of our researchers, encouraging them to provide their unique insight on the projects. This year’s Accelerator Panel includes:

Neil Fraser, President Medtronic Canada & Regional Vice-President – Canada, Medtronic PLC

Neil Fraser Medronics

Neil Fraser is the President of Medtronic Canada and Regional Vice-President – Canada, Medtronic plc, the largest medical technology, services, and solutions company in the world. He is currently a Member of the International Working Group on Global Research, Development & Innovation with the BRG Institute and a Member of the Federal Health and Biosciences Economic Strategy Table (ISED/Health). He was Co-chair of AdvaMed’s Medtech 2020 Virtual Conference, past chair of Medtech Canada, and a former Board Member of Baycrest Health Sciences. He was also a Member of the federal Advisory Panel on Healthcare Innovation (the “Naylor report”) and the Ontario Health Innovation Council. He has numerous publications on the topic of healthcare innovation in Canada and is a frequent speaker on the topics of value based procurement and outcomes-based healthcare.

Valerie Lukac, Director, Advisory Services – KPMG


Dynamic innovative healthcare, human and social services leader, business strategist, with a passion for making an impact and driving positive outcomes. Valerie is driven to enabling transformation initiatives, leading teams and clients to identify and operationalize solutions to complex problems, optimize processes as well as deliver value via technology enabled innovations.

A biologist and epidemiologist, Valerie led the National Public Health Surveillance program (including Panorama) and Laboratory Information Systems Program for 8 years, ensuring that Canadians are better protected, and public health professionals have access to modern, effective digital health solutions.

Valerie’s career spans Canada, the US and Europe where she has led over 30 projects/programs in the last 20 years nationally, provincially and locally. Valerie has managed complex large-scale portfolios, programs and projects, including the national public health redevelopment projects (P3), vendor contracts and technology enabled innovative initiatives, as well as digitization in several provinces.

Reshma Chaskar Mehta, Strategic Program Director, Consumer Health – TELUS

Reshma is a global management professional with 15+ years of experience in multiple industries, including telecommunications, health, utilities, retail, and non-profit. In addition to her experience across these industries, she has held roles in a variety of functions including strategy, business development, process and operations improvement, customer experience, and technology deployment. Reshma currently serves as a Strategic Program Director for TELUS Health where she is responsible for partnerships and business development to deliver best-in class Consumer Health solutions to help Canadians live healthier and happier lives.

Reshma holds a Master of Business Administration with Distinction from INSEAD, is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), and has worked in Canada, the United States, Singapore and South America. Reshma was recognised as one of Business in Vancouver’s Top Forty under 40 in 2019.