1QBit, AlayaCare among latest projects to receive support from Digital Technology Supercluster

Bains

The British Columbia-based Digital Technology Supercluster has announced seven new projects that are part of its COVID-19 program, which is focused on unlocking solutions that protect the public health, safety, and the economy during and after the crisis.

“Canada’s tech community has come together to find innovative solutions in the fight against COVID-19.”

The seven new projects are part of a $60 million commitment from the Digital Technology Supercluster to projects that deliver solutions to health and safety problems created by the pandemic. Projects for this supercluster are focused on solutions such as handheld diagnosis devices and virtual health care services.

“I am happy to see how Canada’s tech community has come together to find innovative solutions in the fight against COVID-19 while leveraging technology to better prepare for future pandemics,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and industry.

In March, the federal government refocused some of its innovation programs, including the Innovation Supercluster Initiative, to help in its fight against COVID-19. The Digital Technology Supercluster projects announced Tuesday are in addition to previously announced projects including the COVID-19 Beacon launched in March.

The funding amounts for these new projects were not disclosed. The new projects are:

Point-of-Care Ultrasound for COVID-19: This project will use an ultrasound device to provide a diagnosis of patients with pneumonia potentially caused by COVID-19. This tool will initially focus on rural and remote communities and long-term care homes for seniors.

Protecting Canadians by Predicting the Evolution of COVID-19: This project is bringing together researchers to forecast changes to the virus in order to pre-design tests, therapies, and vaccines to manage future outbreaks.

Thunderbird: This project is developing an AI-powered platform to help identify treatments with new speed and effectiveness.

xrAI: Through this project, Vancouver-based startup 1QBit is using AI to identify lung abnormalities on chest x-rays in real-time, enabling clinicians in emergency rooms and rural hospitals to better identify COVID-19 and other lung-related illnesses.

RELATED: Health Canada expedites approval of 1QBit chest radiography AI tool to help fight COVID-19

Improving ICU Capacity during COVID-19 Outbreaks: This project is developing software to enable hospitals to better manage and predict ICU capacity leading to better care and outcomes for patients.

Providing Safe and Effective Home Care during COVID-19: This project is aimed to increase the functionality of startup AlayaCare’s existing digital toolkit and accelerate the delivery of COVID-specific features.

Rapid Deployment of Emergency Case Management: This project will provide remote monitoring and virtual care, including rapid referral to required services.

Other superclusters across Canada have also been realigning their programs to meet the demands of the federal government during the crisis. The Scale AI Supercluster in Quebec announced several new projects under its own COVID-19 initiative this month, and the Oceans Supercluster in Atlantic Canada launched a call for projects that build resilience in Canada’s ocean sector during the pandemic.

During the announcement of the new supercluster projects, Bains also discussed several new innovation-focused deals to procure ventilators and facemasks. General Motors will produce 10 million face masks while US company Vexos will help bring the country’s total number of ventilators to 40,000.

The Canadian government also signed letters of intent with six organizations to increase testing capacity. Bains said since launching its call to industry, 6,300 companies have contacted the government to offer expertise or capacity, and 700 have retooled to create personal protective equipment.

Image source Digital Technology Supercluster.

Isabelle Kirkwood

Isabelle Kirkwood

Writer, globetrotter, drone pilot & David Attenborough enthusiast