Digital Health Company Spotlight: Ditch Labs

BML Technology is privileged to work backstage with some of the most exciting and innovative companies in the Montréal digital health ecosystem and beyond. We strive to help these firms, many of them startups, navigate complex regulatory environments and manage the stakeholder interactions necessary to get their digital health solutions to market.

In these activities we sometimes come across companies stretching the boundaries of innovation, applying emerging technologies to address medical challenges that should have a significant positive impact on individual and public health, our healthcare system and society at large. 

Ditch Labs is one of these rare companies, and we are proud to support them in their mission. 

Founded in Montréal in 2019, Ditch Labs is a precision medicine startup pioneering smoking cessation with innovative tech and artificial intelligence. The company is composed of a multidisciplinary team of entrepreneurs, engineers, psychologists and pharmacology experts developing an innovative approach to nicotine cessation, addressing both the physiological and psychological aspects of addiction concurrently. A first in the industry.

The deadly nicotine addiction problem Ditch Labs is trying to solve

Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in Canada. Let that sink in. Today, in 2021, after 50 years of knowledge of the deadly effects of cigarette smoking, the tobacco industry is still the #1 killer of Canadians, at the rate of about 48,000 per year, taking a vicious toll on our families, society and the healthcare system. 

Directly responsible for myriad cancers of the lungs, pancreas, throat, mouth and others, these numbers pale in comparison to the deaths from heart disease and stroke caused by cigarettes. Cigarettes don’t just kill their victims, they inflict massive pain and suffering while doing it.

Canadians know cigarettes are deadly and most want to quit but the engineered addictive nature of cigarettes makes it extremely difficult to do so. The quitting success rate hovers around 7%, and for those that have successfully quit it takes on average more than ten attempts before succeeding.

While it is very hard to quit smoking, it is even harder to quit nicotine. The addiction is real and pervasive. New, better and more innovative solutions are required to address the public health scourge of nicotine addiction. 

We believe Ditch Labs may have developed that solution in the form of its DitchPen™ and smoking cessation system.

The Ditch Labs smoking cessation solution: The DitchPen™

Meet the DitchPen™

The DitchPen™ is a patent-pending smart pulmonary nicotine inhaler that precisely doses the amount of nicotine delivered, only to reduce it gradually and seamlessly over time as required. The DitchPen™ is paired to a powerful mobile application, The DitchApp™, which acts as a complement to the DitchPen as it learns, adapts and regulates the nicotine levels in the device acting as a behavioural assistant throughout the withdrawal process.

The Ditch Labs smoking cessation solution: The DitchPen™

The DitchPen™ is the meeting point between artificial intelligence technology and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). Nicotine addiction is an intricate disease linked to psychological, social and biological factors. Each cessation journey is unique and the tools to achieve abstinence must take every factor into account. The use of the Ditch system represents a new paradigm of cessation support based on a dynamic, progressive and personalized program.

Olivier Bourbonnais, CTO and co-founder of Ditch Labs

How is the DitchPen™ solution different from existing approaches to quitting smoking?

Current smoking cessation products like Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) and varenicline (Champix™) seek to treat a very complex addiction with a one-size-fits-all approach, but there is no magic pill to ditch nicotine. Each relationship with nicotine is different and each smoking cessation story is unique. It is important to acknowledge that before moving forward. Ditch is the first solution to adapt its treatment in real-time, based on craving intensity and behavioral feedback.

The Ditch Labs solution brings together artificial intelligence technology, and personalized NRT in real time. It represents a new paradigm of cessation support based on a dynamic, progressive and personalized program.

Meet the Ditch Labs Team

Ditch Labs is led by a team of innovators and entrepreneurs with a proven track record of success in creating and growing new businesses. The company co-founders are Laurent Laferriere, CEO and Olivier Bourbonnais, CTO. They are joined by Christelle Luce, PhD as Partner and Director of Research. The team also includes experts in Medical Affairs, Psychology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology and the many technical fields required in the solution including AI and software engineering.

Laurent Laferriere, B.Comm. Concordia University, serving as CEO, has had previous successes as a co-founder of Oatbox, a successful breakfast meal kit delivery company and Bombom, an e-commerce website for baby products. Laurent is also a Board Member of the Anges Québec Network and active in the Montreal startup ecosystem. 

Olivier Bourbonnais, a graduate of the prestigious École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) serving as CTO, also brings a track record of prior success as the Co-Founder of Smart Halo, a successful smart bicycle accessory and GPS tracking device that drove a multi-million dollar Kickstarter campaign. Olivier leads the company’s technology vision and strategy.

Christelle Luce, with a PhD from l’Université de Montréal, is a partner and Director of Research. She has an extensive record of theoretical and applied clinical psychology that provides the ideal mix to take on the challenges of tobacco cessation and nicotine addiction. 

Ditch Labs is well positioned for the future and its path to market strategy

In addition to developing its product and technology capabilities, and building its core science team, the company also completed a $1.3 Million Seed investment round in May 2021.

This was a significant milestone and vote of confidence from a number of savvy investors including Amplify Capital, Desjardins Capital, Boreal Ventures, Anges Québec, Formentera Capital, the Healthcare innovation arm of Symphony Care Network, as well as renowned tech entrepreneurs Cherif Habib (CEO of Dialogue) and Simon de Beane (CEO of GSoft), among others.

This capital injection will allow the company to pursue preclinical studies, advance its global regulatory plan and further product and algorithm development. The company plans to market a first version of the DitchPen™ in the UK in 2022 and in Canada in 2024, following a rigorous regulatory process to approve the DitchPen™ as an aid to smoking cessation.

We’re looking forward to great things from Ditch Labs

BML Technology is proud to work with Ditch Labs as it pursues its mission of helping people free themselves from cigarette and nicotine addiction and improve their health. We wish them the best of success and look forward to supporting their progress as they pursue their path to market.

About BML Technology 

BML Technology understands digital health. At the intersection of medical technology, clinical research and patient-centric healthcare BML drives the mainstream adoption of digital technology in healthcare. Offering a full range of services to the digital health ecosystem BML manages the complex stakeholder interactions necessary to get digital health solutions to market and gain adoption.

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BML Technology

At the intersection of medical technology, clinical research and patient-centric health care, we manage the complex stakeholder interactions necessary to get digital health solutions to market and gain adoption.