Government & Policy
Ottawa invests $20-million in health innovation network
August 7, 2019
VANCOUVER – The federal government announced it will support a $20-million project proposal to scale up companies in health and biosciences. This will be done through an initial $7-million investment to support the establishment of the CAN Health Network with its first network partners.
The CAN Health Network is an integrated market that will allow promising companies to work directly with healthcare organizations to understand their needs and commercialize health technologies to meet those needs and scale up their companies.
Through this integrated market, small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and leading start-ups will be able to work with early adopter institutions to collaboratively research, develop and refine Canadian medical technologies to make them market-ready.
Trillium Health Partners chief of staff, Dr. Dante Morra (pictured), told the Globe and Mail newspaper that the partners will each put forward various problems they are looking for Canadian innovators to solve.
Once one institution validates and agrees to buy the technology, the start-up will then be able to sell to the other network partners “without having to go through another procurement cycle,” Dr. Morra said. “The initiative is a buying group that is buying innovation.”
The pilot targets a problem that’s a by-product of Canada’s public healthcare system, which “is very efficient and good at buying commoditized health-care products,” said Brian Courtney, a cardiologist at Sunnybrook and CEO of Toronto’s Conavi Medical Inc., a developer of medical devices that provide images from inside the heart during procedures such as angioplasties.
But that cost-consciousness breeds risk aversion. “We tend to be relatively late adopters of technologies compared to other jurisdictions,” he said. “There is no financial incentive [in Canada] to use newer technologies that might improve care” – despite the longer-term impacts, including lower overall healthcare costs the innovations may bring.
The government investment will build the first points of the national network in western Canada and Ontario, with further expansion planned for Quebec, Atlantic Canada and northern Canada. The successes of these initial investments will guide future funding decisions.
With $3.5 million from Western Economic Diversification Canada, the Saskatchewan Health Authority will lead the creation of the CAN Health Network in western Canada, working with:
- Alberta Health Services;
- Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba;
- O’Brien Institute for Public Health, University of Calgary; and
- Vancouver Coastal Health.
With $3.5 million from FedDev Ontario, Trillium Health Partners will lead the creation of the CAN Health Network in southern Ontario. It will work with:
- Grand River Hospital;
- The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids);
- Prism Eye Institute;
- SE Health;
- Sinai Health System;
- Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre;
- University Health Network; and
- Unity Health Toronto.
“Our government is making these investments to scale up companies and create good jobs for Canadians,” said Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion. “The integrated market is an innovative approach supporting technology development and business growth. Through easy access to a large, consolidated domestic marketplace, companies will scale up and be anchored in Canada, commercializing technologies that can be exported around the world.”