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PLAKK, a young Montréal start-up, wins Biron’s Phase B competition

April 20th, 2022
Communications team
Communications team
Using artificial intelligence with ultrasound imaging to prevent strokes

PLAKK, a Montréal company founded in 2019, has won the grand prize of the second edition of the Phase B competition. Imeka Solutions, Puzzle Media Devices, Perceiv AI and Smartbiotic, for their part, were finalists. Launched in 2021 by Biron Health Group, Phase B brings together and guides healthcare innovators in predictive and preventive medicine. With this win, PLAKK will receive a $35,000 financial contribution, the support of a business accelerator as well as one year of personalized coaching. The finalists, for their part, will enjoy inside access to services and exclusive content from the competition’s partners.

“This year once again, we were extremely pleased to have such a great turnout of participants driven by a desire to push the boundaries of technology to provide significantly better patient care. The PLAKK team, our grand prize winner this year, deeply impressed us with how they trained artificial intelligence on medical imaging, a high potential field in heart disease. Our finalists, for their part, really shone thanks to a wide range of innovations that will provide better healthcare for patients,” said Dr. Nicolas Tétreault, Clinical Biochemist, Director of Science and Innovation, Biron Health Group, and selection committee member.

“We are very proud to be able to support an initiative like Phase B and to continue encouraging tomorrow’s innovators. Given the current context of labour shortages and an overburdened health system, merging health and technology has become a must. These young start-ups have brought tangible solutions to the table, giving Québecers access to more proactive and efficient healthcare,” said Patrick Lauzon, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, Biron Health Group.

PLAKK: reducing risk of strokes with artificial intelligence

While strokes are one of the most common causes of long-term disability and death, assessing their risk is still difficult today. Even more alarming is the fact that in Canada, 1 stroke happens every 10 minutes, making it the leading cause of adult disability. These health issues are usually caused by an accumulation of fat deposits (plaques) in arteries that provide blood to the brain.

PLAKK offers more accurate and in-depth analyses of ultrasound images of arteries through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning. The company has developed AI models that allow it to examine plaque composition and cross-reference this information with its thickness and level of artery blockage.

“We wanted to provide clinicians with a comprehensive diagnosis to help them make better decisions for their patients. Our results are very promising and we hope to contribute to preventing strokes saving thousands of lives. We are very grateful for this recognition from our peers, especially in the ground-breaking field of predictive and preventive medicine. At PLAKK, we focus on technological development that will bring medicine to the next level and provide better patient care,” said Kashif Khan, Co-Founder and CEO, PLAKK.

The four Phase B finalists shone bright with their wide range of innovations

  • Imeka Solutions inc. has developed imaging software that measures structural changes in the brain’s white matter to help develop treatments for neurodegenerative illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's disease. This company helps provide patients with quicker access to treatment and ensures that the right medication is prescribed at the right time to the right patient to optimize treatment outcomes.
  • Puzzle Medical Devices is a Canadian company that specializes in the development of a hemodynamic transcatheter pump to treat advanced heart failure patients, thus avoiding open-heart surgery. It enables mechanical hemodynamic support to increase accessibility, improve patient quality of life and reduce hospitalizations.
  • Perceiv AI harnesses AI to predict the cognitive decline of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The company’s digital biomarkers help reduce risks of clinical trials and provide patients with faster diagnoses and treatments.
  • Smartbiotic is an app that coaches doctors and predicts the best personalized antibiotic treatment for patients for faster and more effective healing. This innovation is especially relevant, as we develop stronger and stronger resistances to drug therapies.

Phase B, an initiative bringing relevant, long-term solutions to our healthcare system

33 projects were submitted for this 2022 edition and have all high potential for the future of medicine. The Gouvernement du Québec hopes to open up room for the private sector to meet the growing needs of a healthcare system that has been weakened by the pandemic. The rising number of innovative projects in this sector is very encouraging. A survey conducted by Biron in winter 2021 (data available in French only) also showed that Québecers were very open to innovation and artificial intelligence to help take the strain off our healthcare system. The initiatives being advanced, including those by Phase B could have a major impact for Québec.

On the eve of its 70th anniversary, Biron Health Group is positioning itself as a healthcare entrepreneurship leader and embraces innovative solutions that take a proactive approach to preventive and predictive medicine and healthcare for more and more patients.

To learn more about the competition, visit the site:

Communications team
Communications team