A head for business

August 9, 2012

Laurier Undergrad Takes Career-Ending Brain Injury and Turns It Into Self-Employment

New Wilfrid Laurier graduate Dave Inglis took an athletic career-ending injury and turned it into a business opportunity. He pitched his concussion management mobile app, The Concussion Toolbox, at OCE's Experiential Learning Competition at Discovery and was one of three $25,000 prize winners.

Seven years ago it was lights out for hockey hopeful, Dave Inglis from London, Ontario. A KO on the ice left him with an undiagnosed concussion which, when combined with a premature return to the ice and a second head injury, ultimately ended his athletic career. What he didn’t fully realize at the time was that it would eventually lead to a professional career.

Inglis transferred his love of sport over to his academic pursuits, enrolling in Wilfrid Laurier University’s Kinesiology and Physical Education program. Here he discovered the school’s concussion research community – and a new direction.

“Having personal experience with concussions really motivated me to get involved with concussion research. This newfound knowledge and my new research networks developed in me a passion to drive change and innovation in the concussion community across the world,” said Inglis. 

So Inglis partnered with Laurier Assistant Professor Michael Cinelli to co-found the Concussion Toolbox, a mobile application-turned-company with the tools to help athletes and their support crew proactively manage concussions. The web-based platform offers athletic and physiotherapists the ability to easily acquire objective baseline measurements of an athlete’s balance and neurocognitive coordination ability before his or her season begins. In the event of a head injury, clinicians can immediately compare post-concussion measures to this baseline score, drastically reducing the risk of returning an athlete to play prematurely and minimizing the risk of secondary impact injuries.

Inglis developed the start-up through Laurier’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator program, which is supported by Ontario Centre's of Excellence Experiential Learning Program (ELP). He quickly gained recognition for his entrepreneurial vision and potential, winning second place in the 2012 Laurier Entrepreneurship Competition in March and being nominated as a finalist for the inaugural ELP competition in May. After pitching the concept to a panel of esteemed judges at OCE's Discovery conference, Inglis was selected as one of three $25,000 prize winners.

OCE's ELP program was designed to help students across Ontario with a variety of educational backgrounds get the training and experience they need to turn their ideas into market-ready products and jobs. Working through academic institutions with programs for young entrepreneurs/students (such as Laurier’s Entrepreneurship Accelerator program), ELP links postsecondary students and recent graduates to industry, leading to new innovations and start-up companies.

“For me, the opportunity afforded me by OCE’s Experiential Learning Program has not only given me the confidence to pursue my new venture, but regardless of success or failure, it has provided me with an entrepreneurial skill set that is transferable far beyond this single venture,” said Inglis. “I hope more students in all faculties of study will take advantage of this program.”

Since the ELP competition, Inglis has expanded his team and has begun developing the first version of the 'virtual athletic therapists', providing parents and coaches with a more intuitive version of the current SCAT2 assessment to complete baseline testing, even if a therapist is not available. The beta version will be released in September, focused on developing the initial user base of athletes playing sport all across Ontario. With governments (including Ontario and B.C.) now introducing preventative head injury legislation in the education sphere, there is global potential and easy market entry for Inglis' innovation.

"It's a really cool opportunity to bring our solution to a global scale and contribute to the problem of preventing and managing concussions," said Inglis. “Someday, I hope to travel to countries around the world to help foster change in various other sporting communities with scarce therapy resources.”

Now a brand new graduate, Inglis is currently pursuing the Concussion Toolbox full-time. He will be attending this year’s International Concussion Consensus Conference in Zurich, Switzerland in November to connect with international concussion management leaders.  

“My goal is to work with the best professionals in the world working in concussion management to help make a difference and reduce the barriers of accessibility to concussion assessments and management technology at all levels of sport.”