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Sweeter dreams are on the horizon thanks to a Halifax researcher and entrepreneur

Hamed Hanafi is a busy researcher these days. During the week, the Dalhousie University postdoc is interning with a Halifax-based medical company through a Mitacs Accelerate research project. During the evenings and weekends, he’s pursuing a personal goal of becoming an entrepreneur and getting a passion project off the ground.

With the help of his Dalhousie Accelerate supervisors, Professor David Roach from the Rowe School of Business, and Professor Jan Haelssig from the Faculty of Engineering, Hamed has started a company to develop technology that will make continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy more comfortable for patients.

“The gold standard for treating sleep apnea is CPAP machines. However, patients don’t use the machines because they are very uncomfortable,” explains Hamed. Over one in four Canadian adults is at risk of suffering from sleep apnea, which causes pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while they sleep. It’s usually a chronic condition that leads to poorer quality of sleep over time, and if left untreated, increases chances of stroke and heart disease.

During his PhD Hamed had his first taste of entrepreneurialism. He had the opportunity to take a variety of related courses. “I took a specific course on entrepreneurship and commercialization of medical devices. My mind was blown,” says Hamed. “I learned a lot and it fueled my passion to start my own company.”

Taking a cue from a Dalhousie alumnus, a founder in the company he’s partnered with for his Accelerate project, Hamed came up with a novel idea: a device that makes sleep apnea machines more personalized for users. His start-up, NovaResp Technologies, focuses on this approach to CPAP with a device that uses sensors to continuously tune the sleep apnea machine according to each patient’s need.

When his Mitacs Accelerate project is done, Hamed plans to develop a prototype, and then start a pilot study with patients in Halifax. “Mitacs provided me with the support I needed to embark on my own project, take part in business pitch competitions, and apply for funding to continue my business,” cites Hamed.

“One day, down the road I will hopefully partner with Mitacs to have my own interns.” 


Mitacs would like to thank the Government of Canada, along with Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Quebec, and the Government of Saskatchewan for their support of Mitacs Accelerate.