Technology has become a major part of people’s lives. It’s something we use from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep. For some people, technology can be life-changing.
iBIONICS, a health startup, based in Gatineau, Quebec, provides implantable bionics and develops technologies that help combat degenerative vision disorders. For co-founder and CEO Suzanne Grant, the two aspects of iBIOINICS mission: to build a business and to restore vision to the blind, were easily intertwined.
iBIONICS’s core product -- the Diamond Eye -- aims to replace blindness with high acuity artificial sight. By 2020, a projected 2.8 million people in Europe and North America will live with advanced age-related macular degeneration (AMD) or retinitis pigmentosa (RP), which are the leading causes of blindness.
“It took me years to find a project I could dig into,” explains Grant. “The Diamond Eye was the first project that met my professional bucket-list criteria.”
Creating the team and foundation for the company wasn’t a simple process. Significant groundwork needed to be done before their ambition could become reality.
“We made a list of what we needed to build a feasible, competitive, investable global business, and one by one we ticked off each step,” says Grant.
Developing this technology was no easy task either. Essentially, a computer chip stimulates neural tissue with electrical pulses, which then becomes interpreted as sight by the brain.
“The technology was cutting edge, but not the complete solution to help blind people see,” says Grant. “The remainder is what iBIONICS provides: wireless transfer of power and data, surgical technique, a demonstration of product fit in the market, and an investible, profitable business strategy.”
Establishing an online presence at ibionics.ca
Within five weeks of the company’s launch, iBIONICS established its website on ibionics.ca. They hired an Ottawa-based marketing agency to help build the initial website. Today, nearly a year later, the site is on the verge of changing platforms, but Grant is intent on keeping a .CA domain.
“Fortunately, the .CA name we were looking for was available and inexpensive. We went for a .CA primarily due to availability and brand association. I’m proud of being a Canadian company, and having a domain end with .CA sends that message immediately and clearly,” says Grant.
As an initial point of contact for media, investors, and both future and existing customers, the company website is an important public relations tool for iBIONICS.
“Our blog is the main driver of the website,” says Grant. “We publish our news releases there, and we direct traffic there from Facebook. We also handle email marketing to our international networks in Canada, Australia, the United States, and Europe.”
Ultimately, Grant says the website is a conduit to the people who use iBIONICS.
“The reception we’ve received is that our product is life-changing, and everyone is extremely supportive,” she says.
With a strong brand, product, and international presence, iBIONICS aims to become one of the world’s leading blindness solution providers.
With prototypes already being manufactured and developed in Australia, photonic development taking place in Ontario, and system engineering in Quebec, iBIONICS is positioned for a strong product launch, backed by international support.
This article was produced with the support of StartUp Canada to profile Canadian businesses.
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