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Blueprint draft

1.0 Introduction

In medical imaging, the information revolution is changing the way in which images are acquired, processed, manipulated, compared and enhanced in order to extract new information for a wide variety of applications. The expanding capabilities of imaging and computational technologies will enable integrated visualization of multi-modalities, multiple dimensions, physiological function, and pharmacological response. These advances will support powerful tools, providing greater understanding of the structure and function of normal and diseased tissues, improved diagnosis of pathology, better monitoring of therapeutic response, as well as providing new therapeutic techniques with real-time visualization.

In addition to technology improvements, advances in biotechnology and changes in health care delivery will also change the way imaging technologies are used. These changes have created opportunities, stimulating the formation of many new knowledge-based companies in the industrialized world. In Ontario, these technological changes represent a unique opportunity for us to bridge university-based publicly funded research with an embryonic private sector in imaging technology.

2.0 The opportunity in Ontario

In the last ten years, the imaging research community in Ontario has undergone tremendous growth and expansion in peer-reviewed and contract funding and has established a critical mass engaged in excellent research. Several academic centres in the province have developed international profiles for research, training and clinical/industrial implementation. In addition, a number of imaging-based companies in Ontario have become internationally competitive while others are still embryonic. Many of these homegrown companies are based on innovations developed at publicly funded academic and hospital centres. With the establishment of this imaging blueprint for Ontario Research Development Challenge Fund (ORDCF) investment, we propose a means of harnessing and focussing the intellectual and innovative capabilities at Ontario universities in partnerships with emerging and established Canadian medical imaging companies to create a strong and sustainable industry based on scientific excellence.

3.0 Mission

To develop an internationally competitive imaging industry in Ontario.

4.0 Objectives

To achieve this mission and to maximize impact, ORDCF in partnership with Ontario Universities and industry will establish a network of imaging programs with the following research and business objectives:

4.1 Excellence

4.1.1 Research
To integrate research projects and investigators with established excellence from across Ontario within cohesive, targeted imaging programs.

4.1.2 Multi-nodal programs
To establish interdisciplinary, multi-nodal approaches within each imaging program, thereby accelerating progress through synergy.

4.2 Impact

4.2.1 Leading-edge technologies
To develop innovative and commercially relevant leading-edge technologies in partnership with knowledge-based Ontario companies to maximize the impact on the economy.

4.2.2 Training of highly qualified personnel
To increase our capabilities to provide training for employees to meet the needs of expanding Ontario companies. Trainees in imaging include technicians, programmers, M.Sc. and PhD students, postdoctoral and clinical fellows, clinical research faculty and junior research faculty. Because of the severe needs in this sector, the immediate target will be M.Sc. students.

4.2.3 Increase number of trainees choosing industrial careers
To bridge the gap between university training programs and the private sector to provide career options for rewarding, intellectually stimulating careers in Ontario imaging industry.

We will accomplish this objective by:

  • creating and funding industrial trainee internships thereby partnering trainees with sectors in critical need;
  • fostering a training environment whereby industrial positions in Ontario become excellent career choices; and
  • establishing an employment-matching mechanism to the benefit of the research laboratories and the industrial sectors.

4.3 Partnerships

To foster and support a collaborative research and development approach to maximize partnerships between Ontario companies and scientists to meet the opportunities of expanding international markets.

Proposed steps are to:

  • maintain a network of small imaging companies;
  • network clinical and industrial implementation and training sites; and
  • network trainees and training environments.

5.0 Benefits of the Imaging Network Ontario

The following benefits of the Imaging Network Ontario are envisaged:

  • maximizing opportunities to retain trainees and investigators in Canada;
  • providing excellent training for personnel to meet the needs in a knowledge-based industry which changes quickly;
  • improving the opportunities for technology transfer to Ontario companies;
  • generating a stronger environment for new partnerships and mergers for small Ontario startup companies; and
  • enhancing opportunities for the establishment and expansion of R&D divisions of multinational imaging corporations in Ontario.