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Helping to build Canada’s medical technology industry

By Katherine Nazimek  •  February 1, 2017

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From substances that soften plaque build-up in the arteries to helmet-like devices that use focused ultrasound to open the blood-brain barrier, innovations in medical technology born at Sunnybrook are revolutionizing health care. As new devices and technologies are developed, patients are benefiting from more targeted, less invasive treatments. But new technologies won’t reach the bedside unless inventors have the skills to bring them to market.

The Schulich Heart Program at Sunnybrook has taken the lead to address this skills gap and nurture a generation of medtech professionals by launching a hospital-based education program called Medventions.

“Canada is primed to be a world leader in medical technology. We have a well-educated population, a quality health-care system, and strong clinical research capabilities; yet, we import $7-billion in medical devices each year and export just $1.9-billion,” says Dr. Brian Courtney, Director and one of the founding members of Medventions. “We aren’t lacking in our ability to make medical discoveries, but we are deficient in the expertise needed to commercialize these discoveries.”

The Medventions’ mandate is two-fold: pave the way for new generations of medical technology that are directly targeted at unmet clinical needs; and mentor scientists, clinicians and engineers in the complexities of bringing their innovations from bench to bedside.

Over a four-month fellowship program, clinicians, engineers and business graduates undergo entrepreneurial training while being immersed in a clinical setting. The multidisciplinary team works with academic and industry advisors to identify a clinical need, develop and prototype a solution, and take the steps necessary to commercialize a product – from protecting intellectual property to manufacturing.

“Our hope is that participants can then apply their talent to drive innovation in organizations; lead research projects; or build their own start-ups,” says Dr. Courtney, also a cardiologist and founder of Colibri Technologies Inc. “And do this all with the mindset of improving patient care, and using our health-care resources more effectively.”

For more info about Medventions, visit sunnybrook.ca/medventions