BlackBerry founder commits cash to 'Star Trek' Dx device quest

The man who brought the world the BlackBerry smartphone device is launching a $97 million fund to support entrepreneurs developing real-life "Star Trek"-style blood-test scanning devices. You know the one, where Dr. McCoy waves the scanner over part of the body and gains vital diagnostic information? That's the goal--noninvasive medical diagnostic equipment.

"You're using fundamental physics to measure things and you're doing it in a way that is so sensitive that you don't need to actually have physical contact," Blackberry mastermind Mike Lazaridis told Bloomberg. "That opens a whole new capability [and a] whole new way of treating patients."

Lazaridis added to Bloomberg that he sees the "Star Trek"-style tricorder, where a single device could handle multiple blood tests, as feasible. Quantum sensors could make that possible, he said, because of their greater "sensitivity, selectivity and resolution."

Lazaridis is already funding several researchers focused on noninvasive medical testing tech. They're backed in part through the Mike & Ophelia Lazaridis Quantum-Nano Centre, a research operation he launched in Waterloo, Ontario, in Canada last September through a $100 million donation, according to the story. Lazaridis also helped launch the Institute for Quantum Computing and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and all complement each other.

This new fund is called Quantum Valley Investments, and it is designed to focus on as many as two dozen companies, with some startups already under consideration, the article explains. Lazaridis jointly launched the fund with Doug Fregin, who co-founded the company that makes Blackberry, Research in Motion.

Lazaridis isn't the only one who sees a "Star Trek"-style future for med tech in general and diagnostics in particular. Pennsylvania State University scientists, for example, have developed an acoustic cell-sorting chip that uses two sound beams to sort a continuous flow of cells. They believe the dime-sized chip can be used in a tiny, battery-powered analytical device that can be carried around--essentially a cell phone-sized medical lab.

- read the Bloomberg story

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