Kongming (Bill) Tong
Kongming (Bill) Tong is the founder and CEO of BT Neuro-MedWare, a medtech startup specializing in enabling people paralyzed to regain lost organic movements without unnatural interventions. Kongming graduated with a Bachelor of Arts, First Class Honours (top three percent), and a Master of Arts (cumulative: A) from the University of Calgary.
BT Neuro-MedWare was launched at Silicon Valley-based Founder Institute, the largest pre-seed startup accelerators in the world. In Kongming’s opinion: “Founders Institute is by far the most intense accelerator in the world. Every alumnus demonstrated extraordinary grit and passion to overcome the relentless hurdles, heartbreaks, and emotional roller coaster the program entails.” Among the 485 applicants, 18 acceptances, and 7 graduates, Kongming is 1 of 2 advanced-track graduates, and made history as part of the first YYC Founder Institute cohort.
Kongming points to one example of how he and his team at BT Neuro-MedWare are working to change the lives of people paralyzed:
One vacation, one freakish, wave-riding accident left his advisor, a former surgeon, Richi Gill, paralyzed from the neck down. Wheelchairs and canes proved inadequate to restore his mobility or quality of life. Richi turned to the leading solution—an implant placed in his spine that applies electrical impulses to allow him to move again. However, his hopes were quickly dashed.
“He spent his life savings getting two implants, but still can’t even grab a pop from the fridge,” Kongming explains. “He needs human assistance to use the remote-controller that comes with the implant; press a button to indicate that he wants to stand, another to hold on to something, then press another button to indicate that he wants to walk.”
According to Kongming, research demonstrates that mimicking how the brain normally stimulates the spine when walking enables walking and that stimulating different parts of the spine is associated with contracting different leg muscles. BT Neuro-MedWare is advancing this research by developing software using advanced-planning techniques and statistics to allow for (1) other activities like speed walking, jogging, running, jumping, and kicking; and (2) switching activities by thought instead of manually switching by using a remote controller or mobile app.
“The software is essentially a translator. It translates what the sensors are saying Richi wants to do and executes the necessary stimulus to perform the activity,” Kongming says. For example, if neuro-nanobiosensors are used, the software would look at which parts of the brain where sensors are strategically placed are activated, the amount of neurotransmitters released, and the pattern of activation in real time to gain clues about which activity Richi is trying to perform, and then executes the necessary stimulus.
Kongming brought together a passionate and persistent team skilled in data science, programming, biomedical engineering, and neuroscience ready to make this dream a reality.
Kongming (Bill) Tong, President and CEO, BT Neuro-MedWare
Download the Top 100 Canadian Professionals magazine and check out Bill's feature on page 99.