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Sunnybrook named as partner in national network to accelerate the adoption of innovations in health and biosciences, and scale up Canadian medical technology companies

By Stephanie Roberts  •  Jul 31, 2019

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The CAN Health Network brings together health institutions and early-stage companies to get medical innovations to patients faster and help the homegrown medical technology industry expand globally

The federal government is investing $7 million to establish the CAN Health Network—a national cluster of health care institutions dedicated to adopting medical technology (medtech) innovations early in their development. Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is among the network’s first 15 partners.

Minister of Small Business and Export Promotion Mary Ng announced the network’s formation on Monday, July 29, 2019, as part of a total investment of $20 million to jumpstart the business of health and biosciences innovation in Canada.

“Our government is making these investments to scale up companies and create good jobs for Canadians. The integrated market is an innovative approach supporting technology development and business growth. Through easy access to a large, consolidated domestic marketplace, companies will scale up and be anchored in Canada, commercializing technologies that can be exported around the world,” said Ng.

“In Canada, scientists at leading-edge institutes like Sunnybrook Research Institute are doing a great job at inventing devices, software and medical products to address clinical needs,” said Dr. Michael Julius, vice-president, research, Sunnybrook and Sunnybrook Research Institute (SRI).

“Hospitals in Canada, however, don’t have a budget to buy promising new technologies, and thus are not adopting these innovations—to the detriment of patients, the health care system and the Canadian economy. That’s the problem this network seeks to solve,” said Julius.

“In addition to expediting uptake of innovative technologies and advancing the evolution of the Canadian health care system, this initiative will also enable commercialization efforts through market validation, which is critical to success in markets outside of Canada,” he said.

Through the network, an institution will identify clinical needs and work directly with scientists and startups to develop solutions. Innovations will be piloted, validated and commercialized with the real-life patient population that most stands to benefit. Once a technology is validated at one institution, it may then be sold easily and efficiently to other network partners without needing to go through another procurement cycle.

“By simplifying the metamorphosis of a medical technology from research product to market-ready clinical solution, patients will benefit first and foremost,” said Julius.

Moreover, as early adopters of Canadian medtech, the network’s institutions will create a new health care economy that helps homegrown companies expand nationally and compete globally. Given the medical technologies market is $500 billion globally, there is huge potential for Canada to become a leader. The CAN Health Network will also spur the creation of skilled, well-paying jobs and related training programs. Over the longer term, adoption of technologies will help reduce health care system costs.

In Ontario, the $3.5 million is coming from FedDev Ontario, for these partners: Sunnybrook, Trillium Health Partners (lead), Bruyère, Grand River Hospital, SickKids, Prism Eye Institute, SE Health, Sinai Health System, University Health Network and Unity Health Toronto.

In Western Canada, the $3.5 million is coming from Western Economic Diversification Canada, for these partners: Saskatchewan Health Authority (lead), Alberta Health Services, Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, O’Brien Institute of Public Health at University of Calgary and Vancouver Coastal Health.


In a nutshell

  • Sunnybrook is a partner in the CAN Health Network, a cluster of health care institutions that will work with startups to translate medical technologies into market-ready clinical products.
  • The federal government established the $7-million network to get innovations to patients faster and help Canada’s medtech industry expand globally.
  • Total investment will reach $20 million and position Canada as a leader in medtech.