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Canadian innovators awarded $200,000 to help six million Canadians living with chronic disease

Arthritis Society Canada's Ideator Awards marks second year of catalyzing innovations for arthritis

Toronto, Ontario – Last night, four Canadian innovators received the prestigious Arthritis Ideator Award™ from Arthritis Society Canada. The award recognizes the best innovations aimed at improving the lives of the six million Canadians living with arthritis.

At the second annual Arthritis Ideator Awards™ event, a pitch-style competition held at the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, three winners: FirstHx, Heal Mary, and Pillcheck were selected by an esteemed panel of judges. A fourth winner, Joints on Point was chosen by Canadian popular vote for the People’s Choice Award. All winners will receive $50,000 to help grow their venture. The four winners were selected from among seven finalists who presented their innovations to the judges at the event.

“This is my second year judging this competition, and it’s exciting to be part of a celebration of Canadian innovation and see these promising ideas get the attention and funding they need to get off the ground,” said Mohamad Fakih, Executive Chair and President, Paramount Fine Foods, and one of the VIP judges. Fakih was joined by Jasmin Ganie-Hobbs, Director Tech Financing, BDC; Andrew Oliver, President and CEO, Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality; Ronald Reuben, Founder and Executive Chairman, Medicom Group; and Trish Barbato, President & CEO Arthritis Society Canada.

As part of the Arthritis Ideators Award™ recognition, the winning innovators receive access to experts from Arthritis Society Canada and the broader arthritis ecosystem including technology, research and corporate partners. 

“Arthritis is not well understood and there are so many myths about it,” says Barbato, President & CEO of Arthritis Society Canada. “People think it’s an older person’s disease. They think it’s related to wear and tear or that it just causes mild discomfort. None of which are true.

“Our Arthritis Ideator Awards™ is part of our Innovation Strategy,” adds Barbato. “We are excited to showcase innovations that will allow us to put a spotlight on this chronic, debilitating disease, while working towards supporting the six million Canadians who manage this condition daily." 

About the Winners:

FirstHx, Toronto, ON
Dr. Chris O'Connor - FirstHxThe brainchild of CEO Chris O’Connor, FirstHx is a web-based medical intake platform, designed to reduce the time it takes to get an arthritis diagnosis – which today (on average) is almost eight years! By gathering a precise medical history before you see your doctor, FirstHx asks the questions that ensure the right diagnostic tests are ordered, saving valuable time for patients and clinicians.

Heal Mary, Vancouver, B.C. 
Cassandra Hui - Heal MaryLaunched by Cassandra Hui, Heal Mary leverages machine learning language processing to match people living with arthritis to appropriate clinical trials that could benefit their health. Currently, the process of searching and applying for clinical trials in Canada is often complicated and difficult.

Pillcheck, Toronto, ON
Veronika Litinski - PillcheckLaunched by Veronika Litinski, Pillcheck optimizes arthritis medications based on your DNA, with the help of an expert pharmacist, to quickly find the right medication in the right dosage. This easy-to-use, at-home test kit provides a lifetime of insights to avoid medication side effects.  

Joints on Point: 2023 People’s Choice Award Winner, Ottawa, ON
Julien & Luca Trapeau - Joints on PointDeveloped by physiotherapists and co-founders Julien and Lucas Trapeau, Joints on Point is a mobile app and web platform that will help people in rural and remote areas manage their osteoarthritis through a virtual online community of physiotherapists, video programs, support tools and resources.  

As Arthritis Society Canada continues to make its mark on Canadian arthritis innovation, we would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to all the event attendees, volunteers, supporters, donors and sponsors who truly help make this event possible. Special thanks to Breakthrough Donor: AMD Medicom Inc., and Imagination Sponsors: Desjardins Insurance, Scotiabank and Tylenol.     

2023 Arthritis Ideator Awards Winners

2023 Ideator Award winners

From left to right: Julien Trapeau, Lucas Trapeau (Joints on Point), Beth Gerritsen, Chris O’Connor (FirstHx), Veronika Litinski, Dr. Ruslan Dorfman (Pillcheck), Cassandra Hui, Samantha Gardner (Heal Mary) 

About Arthritis Society Canada 

Arthritis Society Canada is dedicated to extinguishing arthritis. We represent the six million Canadians living with arthritis today, and the millions more who are impacted or at risk. Fueled by the trust and support of our donors and volunteers, Arthritis Society Canada is fighting the fire of arthritis with research, advocacy, innovation, information and support. We are Canada’s largest charitable funder of cutting-edge arthritis research. We will not give up our efforts until everyone is free of the scorching pain of arthritis. Arthritis Society Canada is accredited under Imagine Canada’s Standards Program. For more information, to make a donation or volunteer, visit

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