The Government of Canada has signed a contract with Markham-based tech company Lind Equipment to test a UV sanitizer technology that could be used to decontaminate work areas and enable the re-use of personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Procurement presents a unique opportunity for us to leverage Canadian innovation.”
– Minister Navdeep Bains
Minister of Innovation Navdeep Bains is set to announce the deal on Tuesday during the daily ministers’ briefing. The deal was made under the Innovative Solutions Canada prototype testing stream.
Speaking with BetaKit earlier today, Bains noted, “procurement presents a unique opportunity for us to leverage Canadian innovation. To tap into Canadian ideas and Canadian solutions that will eventually help with the restarting and recovery of the economy.”
Through the deal, Lind will be working with Global Affairs Canada to test the UV sanitizer innovation, called Apollo Light. For a 12 week period, the sanitizer technology will be tested in a number of work areas used by commissionaires at the headquarters of Global Affairs Canada.
If successful, the technology could also be used to decontaminate “key areas” in the workplace, as well as vehicles such as shuttles, buses, police, ambulance, and fire trucks. The government has also pointed to potential use for sterilizing PPE.
Amid COVID-19, Lind, which typically produces lighting products for mining, workplace, and military operations, has re-tooled to develop UV light systems that can sterilize PPE in hospitals, and now, potentially, workplace surfaces as well.
The deal with Lind points to the Canadian government investing in new technologies to help the economy re-open. In early March, the federal government shifted its procurement strategy in order to focus on ‘Made in Canada’ solutions and develop new supply chains to support COVID-19 efforts.
More than 6,400 Canadian firms have reportedly offered their expertise and capacity to help combat COVID-19 by retooling, scaling up, or providing urgently needed goods and services, a government spokesperson told BetaKit. Bains added that over 700 companies that have retooled or scaled up amid the pandemic.
“Many [of the 700] that we’ve engaged with, and others have seen that opportunity to work with wither the province or other vendors as well,” the minister said. “I think that’s really been critical to be able to mobilize industry to really tap into the entrepreneurs that are coming up with new ideas and new solutions to really engage some of the innovators and scientists and researchers across the country and to empower them and to work with them and to find solutions that help protect frontline health care workers.”
With COVID-19 having brought about a fast-tracked and easier procurement process, federally and with provincial governments, it is unclear if these policy changes will remain in place moving forward. Speaking with BetaKit, Bains did not directly respond to questions about whether future government procurement policies will be more open to Canadian startups, but pointed to Innovative Solutions Canada, a $140 million program focused on helping Canadian innovators by funding R&D and testing prototypes in real-life settings.
In March, Bains also announced federal plans to refocus innovation programs like the Strategic Innovation Fund, National Research Council of Canada, and Innovation Superclusters to help in its fight against COVID-19.
During the briefing on Tuesday Bains is also set to speak to recent investments under Ontario-based Supercluster Next Generation Manufacturing.