Ontario has world-renowned research capability in advanced health, with billions of dollars of research investment at the federal, provincial and private sector level, along with the clinical expertise and infrastructure for testing and adoption of new technology. Ontario is home to North America’s third largest medical technology research cluster with a sector comprised of 42,500 people and 1,100 companies. Yet, while sales in the global medical technology industry (including medical and assistive devices, pharmaceutical and biotechnology) exceeded $2 trillion in 2010—and are predicted to more than double by the end of this decade—Ontario’s share of this giant market is currently just two per cent.
Historically, Ontario has underperformed in commercially developing, producing and selling medical products that address the growing demand for new healthcare solutions locally and internationally. Ontario Centres of Excellence’s (OCE) goal is to accelerate the movement of innovative new technologies from the research environment into the marketplace, enabling companies in the industry to compete and prosper, as well as providing long-term benefit to the healthcare system.
Advanced health technologies is an important area of focus for OCE, with 20 to 25% of OCE’s investments going to industry-academic collaborative research and commercialization at Ontario’s universities, colleges and research hospitals for work in this area. To date, these investments have spanned across the advanced health technologies sector, including healthcare IT, medical and assistive devices, imaging, diagnostics, biomaterials, drug delivery, regenerative medicine and life science.
Since 2004 OCE has invested over $22M into advanced health projects, with an additional $31.5M of cash and in-kind support from industry partners. Many of these investments—in companies such as LifeLike BioTissue, Therapeutic Monitoring Systems and P&P Optica—have contributed to the achievement of key milestones and successes, such as prototype development and testing, attraction of follow-on funding from other government or private sources, and regulatory approval.
Given the significant challenges and capital required to bring new technologies to market in this sector, there is now a greater need to focus resources on the most promising commercial opportunities, and align with other partners to enable support along the entire commercialization continuum. With guidance from OCE’s Advanced Health Technologies Sector Advisory Board, OCE has identified four areas of strategic focus:
- Surgical and Therapeutic Devices
- Medical Imaging
- Diagnostics and Proteomics / Genomics
- Healthcare IT and Monitoring
These four areas are currently being analyzed for specific areas of research strength, and associated commercialization potential and demand from the healthcare system. The focus areas will be used to guide project development and assessment, and catalyse larger-scale collaborative opportunities.
OCE and the Advanced Health Sector Advisory Board will also work to solidify partnerships with other funding organizations, to increase efficiencies and outcomes of investments into opportunities in this sector.