Johnson & Johnson Innovation Announces Finalists of Cognition Challenge

July 10, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO, July 10, 2013 /CNW/ - In a collaboration led by its California Innovation Center, Johnson & Johnson Innovation today announced the finalists of the Cognition Challenge. The Cognition Challenge, a program supported by the Consulate General of Canada in partnership with Johnson & Johnson Innovation and its affiliate Janssen Research & Development, LLC, is a crowd-sourcing inspired challenge that invited Canadian researchers and entrepreneurs to submit their solutions to address problems of learning and memory related to Alzheimer's disease and cognitive disorders.

The two finalists will each receive $50,000 from Johnson & Johnson Innovation to help them further research and develop their solutions as well as office and lab space for up to six months at the Canadian Technology Accelerator in San Francisco, a startup incubator supported by the Consulate General of Canada. Finalists will also benefit from consultation with technology and disease experts from Johnson & Johnson's California Innovation Center. The entrepreneurs retain their independence and ownership of their business concepts.

"The Cognition Challenge inspired high-quality, novel approaches to cognition and Alzheimer's disease and we congratulate the finalists for their exemplary ideas," said Diego Miralles, M.D., head, Johnson & Johnson California Innovation Center. "The California Innovation Center looks forward to collaborating with these entrepreneurs in our effort to spur early-stage innovation through collaboration."

The two projects selected as finalists of the Cognition Challenge are:

3D Nuclear Telomere Imaging in Alzheimer's Disease, submitted by Sabine Mai, Ph.D., professor, Manitoba Institute for Cell Biology, Manitoba, Canada: a 3D imaging-based method to distinguish mild, moderate and severe Alzheimer's patients from age-matched controls. The method involves obtaining cells from cheek swabs and determining telomere cell signatures using 3D nuclear imaging and quantitative software developed at the Manitoba Institute for Cell Biology.

CanDo: A Smart App for Cognition, submitted by Celina Berg, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, CanAssist, Victoria BC, Canada: a series of apps designed to improve the quality of life for people with cognitive disabilities by providing users with customized visual aids with ambient feedback and an easy-to-program planning interface for caregivers. One app will help users to break down tasks into simple steps using visual aids such as photos. The user or caregiver takes pictures of each step and then saves them for later use. The app also will include a wayfinding and tracking tool, and will leverage ambient feedback in the form of colors, music or avatars to help customize the user experience.

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"The Cognition Challenge inspired high-quality, novel approaches to cognition and Alzheimer's disease and we congratulate the finalists for their exemplary ideas," said Diego Miralles, M.D., head, Johnson & Johnson California Innovation Center.