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Verily CMO on common thread uniting its projects after raising $1 billion

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From an outsider’s perspective, the researchers at Google-affiliated health-tech company Verily seem to have their hands in a little bit of everything.

They’re working on contact lenses for people with age-related vision issues; superior versions of the devices that help people with diabetes track their blood sugar; and a watch that helps researchers gather data for clinical studies.

In addition to all that, they’re also setting loose hoards of bacteria-infected (and thus sterile) mosquitoes to wipe out the ones that carry disease; hunting for more personalized cures for Parkinson’s; and helping people fight diabetes on their phones and computers.

Not to mention, Verily just raised a fresh $1 billion to fund its projects, after taking in $800 million about two years ago.

Subscribe to Business Insider’s weekly healthcare newsletter Dispensed.

According to Jessica Mega, Verily’s top scientist and chief medical officer, there’s one thread that unites all of these disparate projects, and will help guide how the company uses its cash.

That thread is information, she told Business Insider during a recent interview on the sidelines of the J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco.

A cardiologist by training and a graduate of Stanford, Yale, and Harvard, Mega has watched as clinicians, providers, and patients deal with a mushrooming cloud of data — from smartphone metrics on steps and heart rate to the detailed patient insights contained in an electronic medical record. That dataset is only going to continue to grow.

Overall, healthcare data is expected to swell 36% each year through at least 2025, according to a recent report from market intelligence firm International Data Corporation. That’s a higher rate than what’s anticipated for other fields like manufacturing or media and entertainment.

“We reached a point where we realized the inflection in data — we’re going from gigabytes to terabytes of health data. That’s a 1,600-fold increase,” Mega said.

As part of its efforts at bracing for that data wave, Verily recently raised $1 billion in a mammoth funding round led by technology-investment firm Silver Lake.

In a statement released with the announcement, Egon Durban, Silver Lake’s managing partner and an oncoming Verily board member, said he looked forward to working with Verily to “use cutting-edge science and technology to change the paradigm of care delivery and improve clinical outcomes.”

Mega agreed.

“What we’re trying to do with things like that investment is trying to stay ahead of the infrastructure you need to handle this next wave of data,” she said.

“That’s where I see our big value.”

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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