AC JumpStart Alumni NERv Technology Raises $3.32 million CAD

The seed round was led by returning investor SOSV, with participation from Threshold Impact, Graphene Ventures, OneValley, Northspring Capital Partners and Boutique Venture Partners. Support also came from undisclosed investors, angels and physicians. 

May 5, 2021


When Youssef Helwa was young, his family’s conversations around the dinner table were oftentimes about the challenges of the medical profession. His mother was a surgeon and, like her colleagues, was passionate about ensuring her patients had positive outcomes. When Youssef was older and working on his Nanotechnology Engineering degree, she would share the challenges of detection post-operative complications. Identifying such complications is time consuming process of elimination. Helwa wanted to find a more accurate way, sparking an interest in postoperative medical innovation.


In 2014, Helwa and his classmate Amr Abdelgawad had just graduated from the engineering program at the University of Waterloo. Together, they founded NERv, a med tech company focusing on postoperative care. Their Smart Catheter System actively monitors patient status, analyzes what’s happening inside the patient and then sends the data to the surgeon.


“The recovery period [from surgery] is usually very challenging,” Helwa said. “It comes with all the risks of the complications that could develop. Our focus is to detect these complications as early as possible so they can be handled in the most efficient way.”


The device itself is very small. It attaches to catheters and other equipment that is utilized postoperatively. The device analyzes fluids coming out of the body, enabling the device to get continuous feedback about the patient’s condition to identify early markers of complication. Helwa describes their system as a “fire alarm for your body.” 


As hospitals reach higher capacities due to COVID-19, this postoperative device just becomes that much more important. NERv’s Smart Catheter System reduces the amount of postoperative patients returning to the ER because they suspect something is wrong, only bringing back those who undoubtedly need care. The device also helps to mitigate physicians’ stress levels, as the number of those who need care continues to rise. 


The Smart Catheter System is currently in the middle of its clinical studies; NERv is hoping to have the device approved by Health Canada by the end of this year. Ultimately, the newly acquired funding will help with the clinical studies, manufacturing and product launch as they prepare for that Health Canada approval.


The seed round was led by returning investor SOSV, with participation from Threshold Impact, Graphene Ventures, OneValley, Northspring Capital Partners and Boutique Venture Partners. Support also came from undisclosed investors, angels and physicians. 

“We’re very grateful to have some fantastic partners on board who understand our mission and vision, and see what we’re trying to achieve,” Helwa said.  

NERv joined the AC JumpStart program in 2015. Helwa explained that the initial AC JumpStart funding was crucial to NERv’s ability to grow. 

“At the beginning, we didn’t have any form of funding and it was impossible for [us] to raise any money at that point … we needed the AC to believe in us as founders and to provide us with [that initial] funding,” Helwa said.  “Their willingness to fund and invest and help us get to market is something we’re very grateful for – and it’s a big part of our journey.” 


As NERv continues to scale, they are finding themselves among fellow emerging med tech companies in Waterloo Region. They have recently secured office space in the Medical Innovation Xchange building, a hub for medical technology that encourages community, idea sharing and finding solutions for today’s many medical crises. This sector is experiencing an influx of success that corresponds with big ideas, and NERv is proud to be involved. 


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