Supercluster announces new projects to fight virus
August 12, 2020
VANCOUVER – The Digital Technology Supercluster announced the completion of its $60 million investment in the COVID-19 Program, launched in April to contribute to Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19. Sixteen new projects were announced to round out the program, which addresses the biggest challenges presented by COVID-19.
“As we restart our economy and prepare for the possibility of a second wave, we must balance the importance of ensuring that patients receive the care they need in new ways while finding innovative solutions to protect Canadians from exposure to the COVID-19 virus,” said Sue Paish (pictured), CEO of the Supercluster. “Our Members are developing and deploying digital solutions to challenges presented by COVID-19, while supporting the reopening of our economy and the return to economic stability and growth for Canadians. I’m proud of what this Program has been able to accomplish in just four short months.”
The latest group of projects tackle a myriad of challenges raised by COVID-19.
- Clothing to Remotely Connect to Care
Lead organization: Myant
Partner organizations: CardioComm Solutions, KITE (the research arm of the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute) and the University Health Network
This project aims to support virtual healthcare through the application of remote wearable technologies. While virtual healthcare delivered through telephone or video conferencing is being used, its effectiveness is limited because it relies on self-reporting by the patient of health data and symptoms. Textile-based sensors integrated into?garments such as tank tops and chest bands can continuously capture critical data such as temperature, heart and lung health, breathing and movement. Leveraging Myant’s cloud-based platform, doctors and other health professionals can assess real-time and historical biometric data in conjunction with the patient’s existing health information to make more informed clinical decisions and deliver better care faster.
- AI-Based Prediction Tool for COVID-19 Patient Care
Partner organizations: London Health Sciences Centre, Layer 6, Roche, SofTx Innovations, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and Vector Institute
There is an urgent need to better predict the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and clinical needs of the healthcare system as the number of Canadians contracting the virus grows. This project will use artificial intelligence to develop a prediction tool to aid frontline clinicians with decision making, test solutions with predictive clinical decision support systems, and help administrators and policymakers better understand future capacity constraints in the healthcare sector. This project will aim to increase the care and treatment of COVID-19 hospitalized patients to improve health outcomes and survivability.
- DirectFood.store: Securing the Food Supply Chain
Lead organization: Wisebox Solutions
Partner organizations: The farms of Nutriva Group and Berryhill Growers, i-Open Technologies, Novex Delivery Solutions, and two restaurants, Eat Fresh Pizza and Mission City Pizza
Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians have seen disruptions to the food supply chain. Some products have been in short supply, while others have gone to waste with the downturn in the restaurant business. The DirectFood.store project is aimed at using technology to create a one-stop shop for consumers to source fresh food directly from local producers, all without warehousing, processing facilities, stores or other distributors.
- Emergency Food Distribution Network
Lead organization: FoodMesh
Partner organizations: Traction on Demand
In Canada, 58 percent of food produced is either lost or wasted. Meanwhile, more than one in eight families don’t have access to a safe and secure food supply. Wasted food is a local, and global problem, with steep economic, environmental and societal costs. These impacts have been magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic, due to volatility in the supply chain. This project seeks to improve and expand the FoodMesh platform to serve as an Emergency Food Distribution Network, enhancing efficiency of the food supply chain and better connecting farmers, suppliers, buyers and charities.
- Global Clinical Network for Infectious Diseases
Lead organization: Spectrum Mobile Health
Partner organizations: Massive Change Network, Enso Strategic and Creative Partners, Unity Technologies, National Collaborating Centre for Infectious Diseases, Alberta Health Services, Saskatchewan Health Authority, Nova Scotia Health Authority, Horizon Health Network, Vitalité Health Network
Millions of citizens worldwide continue to battle the COVID-19 virus with hundreds of thousands of new cases reported daily. A new consortium of global healthcare experts is seeking to stem the tide, leveraging the power of data. Spectrum MD, in collaboration with Enso, Merck, Unity Technologies, the NCCID and clinical partners such as WHO, is leveraging its mobile clinical support platform to build a global knowledge network for infectious diseases. This will enable the consolidation and sharing of epidemiological datasets and evolving clinical guidelines, and thereby “democratize” this critical information and facilitate rapid dissemination of the most current knowledge to frontline healthcare providers and institutions around the globe during a pandemic.
Lead organization: Invixium
Partners: TriVue Services, Invent Canada, MARA Technologies, Manawa
As the economy re-opens, companies will have to abide by strict public health guidelines and ensure their employees are safe. A critical component to workplace safety is the ability for companies to consider screening of employees and visitors upon entry for COVID-19 to buildings in a simple, fast and cost-effective manner. The team is developing HEALTHYACCESS, a new product that will offer rapid, touchless physical access control, workforce management and hygienic thermal screening in demanding, high-throughput environments. The solution will be extensible to enhance worksite safety as the technology know-how increases and progress from touchless entry with temperature detection to touchless entry with contagious disease (like COVID-19) detection.
- Project ABC
Lead organization: Cambian
Partner organizations: IBM Canada, LifeLabs, Providence Healthcare, and Simon Fraser University, Tickit Health, WELL Health
Effective and efficient testing for COVID-19 and its treatment, including vaccination, is critical to enabling a return to community and work. This depends on the ability of healthcare organizations to offer testing and immunization services at existing and temporary clinics quickly and to large numbers of people. This project automates and integrates several operational systems to enable flexible booking across a number of autonomously managed systems. The unique appointment booking system enables healthcare organizations to use their normal systems while also providing faster access to testing and more convenience for consumers.
- Project ACTT – Access to Cancer Testing and Treatment in Response to COVID-19
Lead organization: Canexia Health
Partner organizations: AstraZeneca Canada, Eastern Ontario Regional Laboratory Association (EORLA), emtelligent, GenoLife, Illumina, Novateur, Semaphore Solutions and Queen’s
University, Xtract AI
Since early March, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the delay or postponement of at least 100,000 surgeries in Canada, including cancer tissue biopsies. Project ACTT will reduce the burden on and optimize the use of healthcare resources for cancer patients. This will be accomplished by deploying a minimally invasive circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) test for cancer patients as an alternative to surgical tissue biopsies, which are currently being cancelled or delayed at an alarming rate, as they must take place in a hospital.
- Leveraging AI in Canada’s Social Response to COVID
Lead organization: HelpSeeker
Partner organizations: AltaML, Corsac Technologies, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, University of Calgary – Faculty of Social Work, York University – Canadian Observatory on Homelessness, A Way Home Canada
In support of a collective effort to strengthen Canada’s response to COVID-19 and our country’s recovery capacity, many of Canada’s top social researchers and machine-learning experts are partnering to develop a predictive algorithm to anticipate occurrences of homelessness, suicide and domestic violence. This AI processing will give decision makers real-time data and insights to help anticipate needs before they become crises using evidence-based information, rather than guesswork.
- Mobile Wellness Declaration
Lead organization: BioConnect
Partner organizations: Mara Technologies, Suprema
In direct response to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic and to protect the health and safety of Canadians across the country, BioConnect is creating a cost-effective health tech screening solution targeting highly vulnerable residents in long-term care facilities. The solution is focused on linking COVID-19 screening assessments to individualized card access systems, including the use of a wellness declaration survey and application of thermal imaging technology to detect elevated body temperatures. This tool will prevent potentially ill visitors from entering a facility and keeping our long-term care residents safe.
- Rapid Assessment of Disability Claims During and Post COVID-19
Lead organization: Owl Labs
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an exceptionally large increase in life and disability claims. This project aims to monitor eligibility of such claims for more streamlined processing of claims as well as reducing the financial impact of malingered claims. The goal is to minimize the broad financial impact of COVID-19-driven claims on Canadians by minimizing the expected increase on insurance premiums for Canadians and their employers resulting from those malingered claims.
- Reduce Risk: Post-COVID Analytics Platform for Returning to Work
Lead organization: Molecular You
Partner organizations: Alberta Blue Cross, AltaML, Roche Canada, MRM Proteomics, Municipality of Brooks (Alberta), WorkSafeBC
Employees are eager to return to work, yet there is no accurate method available to know if an individual is safe to return to work. While physical distancing and safety requirements can protect people, what is needed is a tool that can rapidly assess a person’s risks from the virus and can predict post-infection situations. The Reduce Risk project will enable a rapid-risk assessment by collecting data in a single place to analyze it and create models of the disease, allowing us to better understand how the body responds to COVID-19. The new analytics platform will include a safe and secure central data warehouse with one of the largest sets of high-dimensional COVID-19 patient data. The platform will also include artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that will accelerate analysis and generate new knowledge.
- ReSTART: Post-COVID Surgeries and Medical Procedures
Lead organization: SeamlessMD
Partner organizations: AltaML, Excelar Technologies, Toronto East Health Network, Trillium Health Partners, Xerus Medical
The backlog of elective surgeries and other medical procedures due to COVID-19, such as endoscopies and chemotherapy, is estimated in the hundreds of thousands across Canada. It could take 5 to 10 years to clear the backlog, even by performing more surgeries than before the crisis. The ReSTART project aims to help tackle the backlog and prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 in the healthcare system through an end-to-end digital solution that can more effectively manage surgical services, by allowing patients to remotely complete preoperative assessments, COVID-19 screenings, and access educational content on how to prepare for their surgery. The machine learning incorporated into the system will use health record data to predict cancellations, readmissions and emergency visits, and help forecast the urgency and prioritization of cases.
- Supporting Canada’s Elderly During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Lead organization: 3D Bridge Solutions
Partner organizations: Careteam Technologies, CenseoPharm, MedStack, SnapPea Designs, Wellness Pharmacy Group and Wescana Pharmacy Group
The elderly in Canada have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic as the disease spread quickly inside long-term care homes. This project will develop a digital hub that controls a tamper-resistant e-dispenser. This new tool will allow the elderly to access their medications wherever they are living, with remote support from caregivers and medical professionals who can monitor their medication intake in real-time. The system will also allow healthcare practitioners to determine if there is a pattern of not taking their prescriptions.
- Telewound Care Canada
Lead organization: Swift Medical
Partner organizations: AlayaCare, SE Health
More than 6.5 million North Americans live with chronic wounds that require ongoing care. In Canada, 30 to 50 per cent of all healthcare involves a wound. Our most vulnerable populations already have a higher need for ongoing wound care, and now are at increased risk due to COVID-19, particularly if they face isolation or quarantine. This project will develop, deploy and scale an innovative telewound solution that will enable patients who are isolated or in quarantine to access remote wound care experts and resources regardless of where they live. This will ensure patients get the care they need, reduce the pressure on the healthcare system at a critical time and ensure better health outcomes for vulnerable people.
- Virtual Pulse
Lead organization: TTA Technology Training Associates
Partner organizations: Animism Studios, British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), CAE Healthcare, Unity Technologies
The Virtual Pulse project is building a digital training platform that brings together an extended reality training tool that uses the web and virtual reality modules. Virtual Pulse’s simulations will recreate real-life clinical situations. This will help develop clinical reasoning abilities, which are a combination of cognitive, psychomotor and affective skills required to meet patients’ health needs. The demand for nurses and other health providers in Canada is so acute that hospitals and healthcare facilities are re-training staff for new roles. In addition, healthcare professionals are seeing a drop in applied skills, clinical reasoning and procedural memory, as their time becomes dominated with COVID-19 specific care. Further, physical distancing has created additional barriers to traditional medical training. Virtual Pulse will better prepare healthcare professionals, ensuring they have the tools they need to face these challenges.
About Digital Technology Supercluster
The Digital Technology Supercluster solves some of industry’s and society’s biggest problems through Canadian-made technologies. We bring together private and public sector organizations of all sizes to address challenges facing Canada’s economic sectors including healthcare, natural resources, manufacturing, and transportation. Through this ‘collaborative innovation,’ the Supercluster helps to drive solutions better than any single organization could on its own. The Digital Technology Supercluster is led by industry leaders such as D-Wave, LifeLabs, LlamaZOO, Lululemon, MDA, Microsoft, Mosaic Forest Management, Sanctuary AI, Teck Resources Limited, TELUS, Terramera, and 1Qbit. Together, we work to position Canada as a global hub for digital innovation. A full list of Members can be found here.
About the COVID-19 Program
The COVID-19 Program aims to improve the health and safety of Canadians and support Canada’s ability to address issues created by the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, the program will build expertise and capacity to anticipate and address issues that may arise in future health crises, from healthcare to a return to work and community. More information can be found at https://www.digitalsupercluster.ca/covid-19-program-page/covid19-call-for-projects/