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An entrepreneurial engineer

Ever since she was a child in Iran, Samin Eftekhari, Chemical Engineering/Biotechnology and Polymer Science (PhD) ’15, has been driven to create new things. She was inspired to enter the biomedical field by her father, who suffered a heart attack. “An artificial stent in his blocked artery not only saved his life, but also diverted my career path toward developing bio materials for medical applications to save the lives of patients like my father.” As a biomedical engineering master’s student at Amirkabir Polytechnic University in Tehran, Eftekhari worked on a new material for an artificial artery to help patients with heart-related conditions.

Her grandfather had been an entrepreneur; but as a female engineer in a male-dominated profession and culture, Eftekhari found that the opportunities for developing and commercializing her invention were far too limited. “Entrepreneurship is in my blood. But in some regions of the world, young women face double discrimination and unique barriers, simply because they are female,” she says.

In 2009, Eftekhari came to Canada for a PhD in chemical engineering at Ryerson’s Faculty of Engineering and Architectural Science. Here she thrived in an entrepreneurial environment and culture that encouraged medical innovation and business development.

“I chose Ryerson because I didn’t want to just focus on theory. Ryerson trains students to step out of school into the world of industry. It supports engineers to create their own businesses, so they can bring their inventions from the lab into the real world and commercialize them as products for end users.”

As a graduate student, Eftekhari created, developed and patented an absorbable, 3D-printed orthopedic material that mimics bone. She earned a $60,000 FedDev Ontario fellowship that allowed her to build a functional prototype and used funding from the three stages of the Norman Esch Engineering Innovation and Entrepreneurship Award to do market analyses, build and test a business model.

Her groundbreaking work led to her securing other fellowships, awards, grants, scholarships, enabling the launch of Artin Biomed, a medical device startup.

The company is developing customizable orthopedic implants and other innovative bone-repair products. Two of the products under development are mechanically strong absorbable screws for bone fracture repair, and 3D-printed custom-fit implants for spinal bone graft procedures to treat patients with damaged discs.

“Our material is biodegradable and can be absorbed by the body after the bone-healing process is complete, which eliminates the need for a second surgery to extract the implant. It also prevents complications, such as immunogenic responses, caused by using other bone substitutes, such as bone powder from other humans or animals,” explains Eftekhari.

In 2015, Artin Biomed was housed at the Biomedical Zone, a technology incubator that is a partnership between Ryerson and St. Michael’s Hospital. Here, Eftekhari learned as much as she could from the orthopedic surgeons and patients about the challenges of bone graft surgeries, especially current bone substitutes and the product solutions the market so clearly needed.

“Ryerson trains students to step out of school into the world of industry.”


“We knew the hot spot would be young residents and medical students. Between 65 and 70 per cent of medical students in the U.S. and Canada now use Figure 1.”

Eftekhari secured patents and designed, developed and produced functional prototypes of customizable orthopedic implants. “Being in a hospital-based incubator really helped us because of the connections to surgeons, clinicians and patients, and access to St. Michael’s facilities and research to develop our products.”

Now, the company is housed in Ryerson’s iBoost Zone, a Ryerson space that helps technology-focused entrepreneurs build businesses.

16 Ryerson University Magazine / Summer 2017