Southlake Regional Health Centre could see more technological opportunities as FedDev Ontario is providing $10 million to fund the Early Adopter Health Network program.
The program is partnered with Southlake and dozens of other hospitals to provide new, commercial-ready technologies to health organizations.
The Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO), which operates the initiative, is excited to expand it after it got started with approximately $6 million from the federal government in 2019, director of strategic partnerships and development Mary Argent-Katwala.
"We're extremely grateful for the continued support of this work," she said, adding it will allow them to expand into more health-care settings.
The funding is expected to lead to even more technologies getting a chance to access the initiative, according to a news release. It is expected to support 180 small and medium enterprises and create 480 jobs in southern Ontario.
The program matches health organization members like the Newmarket hospital to a company’s proposed innovation to adopt the technology and showcase it to a global market. Southlake was one of the first hospitals to partner on the initiative, joining when it launched in 2020.
Southlake helped pilot a secure messaging platform for health-care practitioners last year, which went well and has gone on to be procured by other organizations, OBIO director of market acceleration Bibaswan Ghoshal said. Two more projects are in the works for Southlake that have not yet been signed off on: a standalone health monitor for heart and lung parameters, as well as a prostate biopsy and MRI device. These are projects arranged prior to the new funding, he added.
But with the additional funding helping them expand to new settings like long-term care homes and family health teams, Ghoshal said they are happy to hear from any health care organizations.
"If there are other health care organizations who are publicly funded that would love to work with us, we are always happy to provide," he said.
The health organization is also launching a new Women in Health Initiative meant to provide on-the-job learning and training costs to advance more women into health care leadership positions. The organization expects to support more than 270 women in such positions.
“OBIO is scaling up health care innovation, increasing the meaningful participation of women in this important sector, and creating inclusive economic growth across our region,” Minister of Women, Gender Equality and Youth Jenna Sudds said.
Although what technologies the funding will bring is not yet known, OBIO has put out a call for applicants.
Though the dollars will allow for expansion, existing partners stand to benefit as well, Argent-Katwala said.
"They would be eligible to begin new projects," she said. "Totally depending on if they have the technology, the innovations that are of interest."