BKIN TECHNOLOGIES LTD.

Bkin_1651Situated in the heart of Kingston, Ontario’s old industrial area, filled with construction contractors and bakeries, BKIN Technologies Ltd. (BKIN) blends into the surrounding landscape. From the outside, BKIN seems like a typical corporate office space; however, what happens inside the facility is nothing short of extraordinary. Led by president and chief executive officer, Anne Vivian-Scott, BKIN competes in the complex and fascinating world of medical robotics.

Long before BKIN was established, Dr. Stephen Scott developed the firm’s flagship technology—KINARM Labs—at the Centre for Neuroscience Studies at Queen’s University. As the world’s first robotic system for objectively measuring the effects of brain injuries (e.g., strokes, concussions, fetal alcohol syndrome, etc.) while performing ordinary movements, the KINARM technology was widely celebrated; demand for the technology quickly exceeded the lab’s capacity, resulting in a need to commercialize the product.

With an aversion to venture capital, BKIN needed to find another source of funding. In 2009, the company received funding from PARTEQ Innovation’s Venture Fund—an organization dedicated to developing Queen’s innovations and with whom they co-founded the company.  In 2013, BKIN moved into a vacant 3,500 square feet facility on Railway Street in Kingston, Ontario. This was a welcome change for Vivian-Scott and her staff because it centralized all BKIN employees under one roof.

UNLIKE MANY OTHER AREAS OF MEDICINE, NEUROLOGICAL PRACTICE LACKS A “GOLD-STANDARD” TECHNOLOGY FOR ASSESSING BRAIN INJURIES.

Currently, physicians resort to questionnaires and visual inspection of a patient’s behaviour. Without a system to quantify sensory-motor-cognitive deficits, it is difficult to accurately identify the underlying impairments and hence plan patient-specific rehabilitative care. With this shortcoming in mind, BKIN looked to revolutionize the way the clinical research community assesses brain injuries, by developing robust platforms for sensory, motor and cognitive assessment.

Bkin_1534Building upon the original KINARM technology, BKIN developed and manufactured two distinct platforms: KINARM Exoskeleton Labs (Exoskeleton) and KINARM End-Point Labs (End-Point). Of these two platforms, the Exoskeleton robot was more complex, providing feedback from and control of the shoulder and elbow joint, as well as gravity support to the arms (the subject is seated). By focusing on manufacturing high-quality products, BKIN differentiated itself from its competitors.

With $1.5 million in revenues in fiscal year 2015, BKIN maintains strong relationships with Canadian and foreign researchers (e.g., motor control scientists), neuroscientists, and research hospitals. If it were not for the firm’s manufacturing constraints, Vivian-Scott believes that its sales would have been closer to $2 million this year. Historically, BKIN has achieved 5 per cent annual sales growth; however, this is expected to increase to a growth of 10 to 20 per cent in future years.

Exports make up over 60 per cent of BKIN’s earnings—a figure that is especially impressive in light of the firm’s smaller size. BKIN exports to the United States, Japan, Australia, and many European countries. In 2016, the company closed a major deal to support a clinical trial of a pharmaceutical company.

Given the industry’s need for regulatory compliance, the complex nature of its robotic platforms, and the firm’s small size, BKIN’s employees need to be well educated and trained. All seven of the firm’s employees have post-secondary education (ranging from college to university), and specialize in physics, software development, engineering, and/or manufacturing technology. As a smaller firm, BKIN uses word-of-mouth advertising and hires primarily from the Kingston area.

BKIN has encountered a number of challenges so far, such as compliance, a complex certification process, and determining how to pre-market its products. Despite these hurdles, Vivian-Scott and her colleagues remain devoted to ensuring that BKIN’s robotic platforms become essential pieces of diagnostic equipment in the years to come. If the firm continues to innovate and maintain a low cost structure, there is no reason it cannot accomplish its long-term goal: to become an essential diagnostic equipment supplier in Canada.

Read more about BKIN Technologies Ltd on their website.

Company Profile

Company Description

Overview

BKIN Technologies is transforming the assessment of brain injuries by putting cutting-edge robotics technology into the hands of neuroscientists and clinician-scientists around the world. Their KINARM Labs gives customers a “window” on brain function that is objective and quantitative – allowing them to study, with exquisite precision, the sensory, motor and cognitive impact of a wide range of brain injuries and diseases, such as: stroke, cardiac arrest, transient ischemic attack, traumatic brain injury, and Parkinson’s disease.

Key Facts

Headquarters: 140 Railway St, Kingston, ON K7K 2L9

Executives:

  • Anne Vivian-Scott, President and CEO

Year established: 2004

Number of employees: 7

Revenues: $1.5 million (2015)

Line of business

NAICS: 334512 Measuring, Medical and Controlling Devices Manufacturing

Products

  • KINARM Exoskeleton Labs
  • KINARM End Point Labs

Markets

Customers:

  • Neuroscientists
  • Hospitals with Research Institutes
  • Universities
  • Research facilities

Exports:

  • Exports account for 60% of earnings
  • BKIN exports to United States, Japan, Israel, Australia, and many European countries

Skills and Educational needs

Skills: Engineering, software development, machining

Education: Post-secondary education

History

Unsatisfied with the available tools for conducting his own research on sensorimotor control, Dr. Stephen Scott of Queen’s University invented the KINARM.  Realizing the importance of the tool to understand brain function, he chose to create a start-up, with the help of PARTEQ Innovations, to ensure other scientists like him could access the tool.  Now with over 60 Labs in the field, the company is bringing the same technology to the clinic to transform the management of brain injuries.

Competitive Environment

Partnerships

  • BKIN is a proud partner of Queen’s University
  • BKIN takes advantage of several Governmental programs such as SR&ED ITC, IRAP and, FedDev

SWOT Analysis

Strengths:

  • Expert staff
  • Unique product offering

Weaknesses:

  • Resources to capitalize on first mover opportunity

Opportunities:

  • Renewed public focus on the cost of brain injuries to society

Threats:

  • Suppliers of Rehab Robot infringing upon BKIN’s market niche

OTHER PROFILES