Government expands procurement deals with Canadian startups to aid with COVID-19

The Government of Canada has officially signed procurement deals with three Canadian healthtech companies that it had signed letters of intent with last week as well as signed five new letters of intent with more companies that will be able to produce equipment and services to help in the fight against COVID-19.

Spartan Biosciences has also recently signed a deal with Alberta’s provincial health authority to expediate testing.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that procurement deals have been signed with Thornhill Medical, Medicom, and Ottawa healthtech startup Spartan Bioscience. The three companies will collectively be supplying respirators, masks, and other diagnostic equipment.

Spartan Biosciences’ technology integrates DNA testing systems and the company is now working to build a diagnostic device that Minister of Industry Navdeep Bains said last week could have the potential to provide readings of COVID-19 within 30 minutes.

The fast-tracking of government procurement processes is being seen not only at the federal level but provincially as well. In Ontario, provincial healthcare agency Ontario Health West signed a procurement agreement with healthtech startup InputHealth in just over a week, while Telus has recently announced a partnership with Alerbta’s government, and Regina-based virtual healthcare startup Lumeca received approval from the Government of Saskatchewan to provide virtual healthcare services.

Spartan Biosciences has also recently signed a deal with Alberta’s provincial health authority to expediate testing with the diagnostic device it is developing. Alberta Health Services (AHS) has signed a $9.5 million contract with the Ottawa startup, which is in the late stage of developing the handheld, rapid-testing device for COVID-19, which can confirm test results in less than one hour.

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Through the deal, AHS is set to receive 250 handheld devices, along with 100,000 testing kits, to be distributed to healthcare facilities outside of Calgary and Edmonton. The first shipment of devices and testing kits are already expected to arrive next month, with AHS noting that Health Canada is expected to approve the use of the rapid test kits within a few weeks.

The total federal capital being committed to the announced projects has not been disclosed, but the federal government is set to provide additional funding of $1.5 billion over two years to the Public Health Agency of Canada to support diagnostic testing and the urgent purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, and supplies needed to respond to COVID-19.

The five companies that the government has signed new letters of intent with include Guelph-based biotech startup Precision Biomonitoring, as well as Fluid Energy Group, Irving Oil, Calko Group, and garment manufacturer Stanfield’s. The companies are set to produce additional test kits, hand sanitizer, and protective apparel including masks, and gowns.

Founded in 2016, Precision Biomonitoring is a biotech company that has developed a biomonitoring platform that uses molecular point-of-need technologies that detect environmental DNA (eDNA) to confirm the presence of target species and microbes. The company states that the platform provides more rapid and accurate results at a lower cost than traditional methods, without the delays and costs of having to send samples to a central lab.

Meagan Simpson

Meagan Simpson

Meagan is the Associate Editor for BetaKit. A tech writer that is super proud to showcase the Canadian tech scene. Background in almost every type of journalism from sports to politics. Podcast and Harry Potter nerd, photographer and crazy cat lady.