FedDev Ontario funds health tech innovation hub in Waterloo Region

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

FedDev Ontario has announced $10 million to build a health technology innovation hub in Waterloo Region.

Velocity, Western University, the City of Kitchener and Medical Innovation Xchange (MIX) are partnering to build a Southwestern Ontario Health Innovation network with a $10-million grant from FedDev Ontario.

This partnership will “strengthen the Canadian tech ecosystem, specifically in the health and medtech sector by supporting innovators and entrepreneurs from start to scale, providing companies with business, clinical and regulatory expertise, in addition to access to labs, facilities and equipment.

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“Building a successful health tech company is different than most tech companies” noted Adrien Côté. “Health tech founders face additional hurdles navigating clinical development, regulatory pathways, quality systems, and finding a profitable path to enter a competitive healthcare market.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for the tech ecosystem to better support health tech companies and strengthen the region’s health tech pipeline to increase Canada’s ability to lead as we build a healthier future for all, officials said at the announcement.

“Velocity has given us access to a world-class laboratory and the space to grow our emerging biotechnology company. It’s secretly the best place in the world to start a biotechnology company without hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank,” said Cody Shirriff, founder and CEO at Serenity Bio.

Of the $10 million funding announcement, $6.5 million is allocated to Velocity to continue providing critical support for early-stage start-ups and further the exponential growth of the region’s tech ecosystem. Parts of the funding will be allocated to lab equipment for Waterloo’s upcoming Innovation Arena, Velocity’s new home.

FedDev Ontario says the project will create 730 skilled jobs, support the development and growth of 135 businesses and commercialize 150 new health-related products, services or processes, leverage $40 million in project funding, and attract over $400 million in follow-on investment in the companies supported.

“This support for the University of Waterloo to develop a health tech innovation cluster, centred around it’s planned Innovation Arena, will streamline the support available to companies aiming to grow in health tech,” said Kitchener-Conestoga MP Tim Louis.

Start-ups in the health tech sector will be able to access the resources they need to develop, test and demonstrate their ideas with this FedDev Ontario funding.

“As a national and global leader in several areas of health research, Western is excited to partner with the University of Waterloo to help drive innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development. Multi-sector collaborations of this kind are key to Canada’s future prosperity,” said Western University president Alan Shepard.

Western University’s Schulich Medicine & Dentistry school currently employs more than 2,700 full- and part-time faculty members in clinical and basic medical sciences, dentistry and at Robarts Research Institute.

Since November 2015, FedDev Ontario has invested over $235 million in 46 projects in the Health and Biosciences sector, and recently announced $8.2 million for the University of Waterloo to establish the Additive Manufacturing Alliance.

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