CAN Health Network, a $20 million proposed project that aims to help healthtech companies to commercialize their technologies, has received an initial $7 million investment from the federal government.
“The goal of this platform is to empower our already strong Canadian medical technology companies to reach their full potential and own the global market.”
Through the network, startups and small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be able to work with early adopter institutions to research and develop medical technologies to prepare them for going to market. The project will be spearheaded by Dante Morra, chief of staff of Trillium Health Partners and Deepak Kaura, chief medical officer of 1QBit The federal government is hoping this network will accelerate healthtech adoption through new models of procurement, an enduring barrier to innovation for Canadian healthtech companies.
“In a time of rapid technological change and global interconnectedness, we have an opportunity to leverage our healthcare system and to achieve an even greater impact through our advances in health and life sciences,” said Mary Ng, minister of small business and export promotion. “Through the CAN Health Network, SMEs and leading start-ups will be able to work with an integrated market of early adopter institutions to collaboratively research, develop, and refine Canadian medical technologies, making them market-ready for sale.”
Policies, directives, and procurement regulations are seen as “major hurdles” to adopting innovation, according to more than three-quarters of respondents of a survey across Ontario’s 23 academic research hospitals. Some experts have pointed to Canada’s procurement system becoming increasingly centralized, allowing for a smaller number of opportunities for startups.
According to Public Services and Procurement Canada, the federal government is one of the largest public buyers of goods and services in Canada, purchasing approximately $16 billion annually on behalf of federal departments and agencies. A 2018 whitepaper from Information Technology Association of Canada stated that Canada’s public and private sectors should be far more concerned with fostering sustainable investment, standardizing procurement models, and scaling innovation across the Canadian digital health marketplace.
“We have an opportunity to leverage our healthcare system and to achieve an even greater impact through our advances in health and life sciences.”
The new network is aimed at addressing this procurement barrier by allowing startups to sell their products to industry partners after only one procurement cycle, shortening the time for businesses to bring their technology to market. This week’s investment from the government will be used to support the establishment of the network on Ontario and Western Canada, and the network plans for future expansion in Quebec, Atlantic Canada, and Northern Canada.
For the western provinces, $3.5 million from Western Economic Diversification Canada will go toward the Saskatchewan Health Authority, which will work to create the CAN Health West Network. This will be done alongside Alberta Health Services, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, the O’Brien Institute for Public Health at the University of Calgary, and Vancouver Coastal Health.
“Saskatchewan has a long and storied history of developing innovative healthcare solutions to meet the unique needs of its people,” said Suann Laurent, COO of the Saskatchewan Health Authority. “In keeping with our core value of collaboration, we look forward to partnering with our health and tech industry leaders as we continue finding innovative solutions to our healthcare challenges.”
In Ontario, an additional $3.5 million will be invested from FedDev Ontario into Trillium Health Partners, representing Mississauga Hospital, Credit Valley Hospital, and Queensway Health Centre, to establish the CAN Health Ontario Network in southern Ontario. Trillium Health Partners will work with nine partners, which include Bruyère Hospital, Grand River Hospital, SickKids, Prism Eye Institute, SE Health, Sinai Health System, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, the University Health Network, and Unity Health Toronto.
“The goal of this platform is to empower our already strong Canadian medical technology companies to reach their full potential and own the global market,” said Morra of Trillium Health Partners. “The CAN Health Network will enable healthcare organizations to work directly with medical technology companies to ensure that technology being adopted is built here at home, by Canadian companies in partnership with our medical leaders.”
The government said it plans to invest up to $20 million, but future funding decisions will be determined by the successes of these initial investments.
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