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Justin Trudeau, meet Codi

Canada’s PM learns how the autonomous robot can bridge healthcare gaps in remote communities

April 25, 2024

Cobionix, the startup developing Codi™️, an AI-powered robotics system that can perform ultrasounds, met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Honorable Marci Ien, Minister responsible for Women and Gender Equality Canada, and Honorable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs at Saskatoon’s Virtual Health Hub earlier this week.

The visit was part of a larger trip to Saskatchewan where the prime minister announced Budget 2024 funding for Indigenous communities to address health disparities in rural and remote Indigenous communities.

Prime Minister Trudeau, Minister Ien and Minister Vandal look at Cobionix's robot Codi at the Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies in Saskatoon.
Meeting Codi, the autonomous robot that can perform remote ultrasounds. (Back L-R) Chief Darcy Bear (Whitecap Dakota First Nation, Dan Vandal, Northern Affairs Minister, Riel Bellegarde, president of Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth of Canada. (Front L-R) Justin Trudeau and Dr. Ivar Mendez, director of the Virtual Care and Remote Presence Lab at the University of Saskatchewan.

The Virtual Health Hub, where Cobionix is conducting remote ultrasounds clinical trials, will receive $21 million to develop, adopt, and deliver healthcare services to remote communities.

“Cobionix is thrilled to participate in a transformative initiative that aims to tackle health disparities faced by rural and remote communities,” Matthew Sefati (BSc ’16), Cobionix CEO, said. “Through our innovative AI-enabled robotic platform, Codi™, and its pioneering ultrasound application, we are helping bridge the healthcare gap.”

Cobionix aims to offer fully autonomous ultrasounds — where the robot will undertake all parts of the ultrasound procedure without the need for technician supervision — in all of Saskatchewan and eventually across North America.

“The federal government’s investment in the Virtual Health Hub underscores the leadership and achievements of our partners, including Dr. Ivar Mendez, director of the Virtual Care and Remote Presence Lab at the University of Saskatchewan, and Riel Bellegarde, president of Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technologies, in leveraging our advanced robotics technology to address current healthcare challenges.”

Cobionix staff at Velocity downtown Kitchener in front of Velocity sign
Cobionix staff at Velocity downtown Kitchener.

University of Waterloo engineering grads Nima Zamani (BASc ‘14, MASc ‘16), CTO, and Dr. Tim Lasswell (BASc ‘14, MASc ‘17), chief medical officer, founded Cobionix along with John Van Leeuwen (BSc ‘81). Since joining Velocity in the spring of 2021, their team built Codi, passed milestone audits necessary to manufacture medical devices, and raised close to $3 million in venture capital funding.

“At Velocity we built a clinical-grade commercial product,” said Zamani. “It is one of the few incubators that are supporting medical device development and we’ve used the space, support, mentorship, and access to investors — Velocity has helped us in many areas.”