Ontario launches $20 million innovation fund
May 4, 2016
TORONTO – Ontario will soon be accepting applications for its $20 million Health Technologies Fund, which will support the development of world class, market-ready, made-in-Ontario health technologies by accelerating prototyping, evaluation and adoption in the Ontario healthcare sector.
The $20 million fund will support projects that reflect priority areas of the Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care and the recommendations of the Ontario Health Innovation Council.
Applicants may apply for funding in one of three project categories:
- Pre-market evaluation
- Early adoption.
Program details, including the first call for applications, are available at http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/ochis/ and applications will be accepted starting July 2016.
Ontario is also announcing that the Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist will soon be recruiting Innovation Brokers to help innovators access:
- Health system decision makers
- Test sites for gathering feedback from patients and clinicians
- Funding for development and commercialization of innovative health technologies.
Innovation Brokers will help remove barriers, so that new made-in-Ontario innovative technologies and processes can be adopted by theprovincial healthcare system and put to work for the benefit of patients. Innovation Brokers will also work with the Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist to coordinate, integrate and ensure alignment of innovation with health system priorities and the needs of Ontario’s population.
The Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist will begin accepting expressions of interest for Innovation Brokers in May 2016.
“I’m excited to launch the Health Technologies Fund and begin hiring Innovation Brokers,” said William Charnetski (pictured), chief health innovation strategist. “The fund’s $20 million will support innovation in our health technology sector. It will help our best and brightest get their products into our healthcare system faster, improve quality of life, increase the sustainability of the health system and support job creation.”
Government, health sector, academics, private sector and other partners are working with the Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist to coordinate province-wide efforts to help ensure Ontario’s major investments in innovation improve health outcomes, enhance economic competitiveness and create jobs.
Investing in Ontario’s health technology innovations is part of the government’s plan to build a better Ontario through its Patients First: Action Plan for Health Care, which is providing patients with faster access to the right care, better home and community care, the information they need to stay healthy and a healthcare system that’s sustainable for generations to come.
Regarding the technology fund, Charnetski said, “It’s not a mini-Dragon’s Den, but will be used to create an ecosystem.”
Speaking recently at the annual MEDEC conference, he highlighted the need for innovation in the healthcare sector both to improve the workings of the system and to prime the pump of economic growth and job creation for the future.
Part of the challenge, he said, is to drive exports so that innovative companies grow to a significant size and have an impact. It won’t be done, he said, by selling locally into Canada’s relatively small healthcare sector.
On that front, OCHIS is also working with MaRS Excite, a business accelerator, and Health Quality Ontario. “We’re focused on how to get disruptive technologies into the system more quickly,” said Charnetski.
Currently, the province has a “poorly designed system for innovation.”
The broker network will aim to help foster the rise of bright ideas and inventive companies. The six brokers will be assigned to different geographical areas across Ontario, and they will find out what various healthcare providers are looking for in the way of new solutions.
They will also assess what is being created in different locales – like Windsor, Hamilton and Ottawa. One of the problems in the system is the lack of communication. Solutions might already be out there, but few people are aware of them.
“The brokers will bring back the information to us,” said Charnetski, “and they will carry information back to the regions.”
Bill Charnetski was appointed to his current role last fall by the Ontario government.