Ottawa start-up poised to tackle a post COVID-19 crisis – depression and suicide

OBI and IndieBio SOSV invest in NeuroQore’s First Dawn technology to accelerate its time to market

Ottawa/San Francisco, ON, June 18 – A recent report has sounded the alarm that the next looming crisis related to COVID-19 will be a drastic increase in depression and suicides – a call to action for the team at NeuroQore Inc., recently armed with an investment from the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI). To fast-track the novel First Dawn technology to market within the next few years, the investment will be directed towards product development and its clinical validation.

The report, conducted through the Well Being Trust and researchers affiliated with the American Academy of Family Physicians, found that over the next decade as many as 75,000 additional people that includes adults and adolescents, could die from “deaths of despair” as a result of the coronavirus crisis, a term that refers to suicides and substance-abuse-related deaths.

“Prior to this devastating global pandemic, and the isolation that comes with it, depression was already the leading cause of disability worldwide, with suicide being the second leading cause of death among people aged 10 to 34,” says Mehran Talebinejad, co-founder of NeuroQore. “Our purpose has been to find a quick, effective, evidence-based alternative therapy for individuals suffering from major depressive disorder and suicidal ideation – and we have found just that through NeuroQore’s First Dawn. Recognizing that the mental health crisis is set to increase rapidly during this time of COVID-19 places further importance on the next steps of clinical development and testing.”

NeuroQore’s first commercial product, First Dawn, is a novel repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) therapy system for faster and more effective treatment of depression, suicidal ideation, and various other brain conditions. rTMS does not require anesthesia or have cognitive side effects and represents a solution for the significant gap in timely and effective treatment options for individuals with severe depression and suicidal ideation.

Founded in Ottawa, NeuroQore recently expanded to San Francisco to be closer to their major investment partner, IndieBio, SOSV.

"We were excited to fund NeuroQore because their one-day rTMS treatment significantly improves clinical outcomes for treatment resistant depression,” says Arvind Gupta, General Partner, SOSV and Founder & Managing Director, IndieBio. “Teenage depression and suicide are growing epidemics made worse by the stigma that comes with it. IndieBio is proud to continue its support of NeuroQore alongside the Ontario Brain Institute to end this devastating disease and help prevent tens of thousands of suicides per year."

The goal is to have First Dawn available to the therapeutic market within the next two to three years – just in time to manage a post COVID-19 crisis. At present, First Dawn is immediately available to researchers and investigators with FDA investigational device exemption and Health Canada investigational testing authorization. In parallel to the research market, NeuroQore, in collaboration with Dr. Kathleen Pajer, Chief of Psychiatry at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Dr. Robert Chen, Senior Neuroscientist and Neurosurgeon, Toronto Western Hospital, are preparing for the study of First Dawn in adolescents with treatment resistant depression, completing Health Canada and FDA requests for approvals for this new indication.

“NeuroQore has taken their significant collaborative, evidence-based research efforts and married that with unmatched technological expertise,” said Tom Mikkelsen, President & Scientific Director, OBI. “This is a perfect example of OBI’s vision of bringing ‘lab to life’, where the efforts of our research community in collaboration with industry partners like SOSV are translated to directly support individuals living with brain disorders.”

OBI has supported NeuroQore over a period of eight years, with non-dilutive funding through its ONtrepreneurs, NERD and Internship Programs to support NeuroQore’s First Dawn development and journey to market.

About NeuroQore:

NeuroQore is comprised of a team of passionate and motivated scientists, engineers, and clinicians dedicated to developing pioneering neuromodulation treatments for various neurobehavioral conditions. We collaborate with world-class universities and research clinics, in order to investigate ways to transform lives. At NeuroQore, we strive to create a world with effective solutions to devastating disorders: major depressive disorder and suicidality.

About the Ontario Brain Institute:

The Ontario Brain Institute is a not-for-profit organization that accelerates discovery and innovation, benefiting both patients and the economy. Our collaborative ‘team science’ approach promotes brain research, commercialization and care by connecting researchers, clinicians, industry, patients, and their advocates to improve the lives of those living with brain disorders. Welcome to Brain Central. Visit for more information. Follow us on Twitter (@OntarioBrain). Funding provided, in part by, the Government of Ontario.

OBI currently has 77 neurotech companies in its growing portfolio through ONtrepreneurs and NERD Programs with the ultimate goal of making clinically validated products and services accessible to the community. The ONtrepreneurs Program is Canada's single largest award that catalyzes early stage entrepreneurs to commercialize brain-related technologies. The NERD (Neurotech Early Research & Development) program de-risks follow-on investments in neurotechnologies by providing milestone-based funding to support product development.

About IndieBio, SOSV

IndieBio enables scientists to become entrepreneurs and build breakthrough companies to solve the world's biggest challenges through biology as a technology. SOSV manages over $700 million with a portfolio of over 950 deep-tech startups. IndieBio, funded by SOSV, is the world's first life sciences accelerator created in 2014, and in the past six years has backed 200 life science startups. The 950 startups in SOSV's portfolio have a combined valuation of over $15 billion.

For Information:

Allison Garber

Communications Consultant, Ontario Brain Institute

(902) 221-5254