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FedDev Ontario invests in southwestern Ontario health tech innovation cluster

Original news source: FedDev

$10 million to develop leading-edge health technology hub in the Waterloo-London region that will support 135 businesses and create 730 jobs

August 10, 2021 – Waterloo, Ontario

The global health crisis has underscored the need to keep Canada at the cutting edge of health technology innovation to provide the best care to individuals, while helping drive the economy’s strong comeback. With a dynamic innovation ecosystem, world-class post-secondary institutions and leading research hospitals, southwestern Ontario is equipped to be a leader in this critical field.

That is why today, Raj Saini, Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre, along with Tim Louis, Member of Parliament for Kitchener-Conestoga, and Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre announced a $10 million investment from FedDev Ontario for the University of Waterloo, in partnership with Western University, the City of Kitchener and Medical Innovation Xchange, to establish a health tech innovation hub in the region with partnerships across southwestern Ontario.

Through this project, the University of Waterloo and its partners expect to 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.

The project will capitalize on the strong pipeline of health tech companies that is emerging in southwestern Ontario to connect them with an integrated suite of services ranging from mentorship and business advisory services, support for health tech product development, and access to specialized labs and clinical trial spaces at the University of Waterloo’s planned Innovation Arena and at Western University. It will combine the digital technology acceleration strengths of the Waterloo Region with the research hospital based assets of the London region to provide seamless support to both early-stage and scaling firms.

This project will help anchor a growing number of health tech firms in southwestern Ontario, contribute to regional growth, and attract international start-ups to southwestern Ontario. Through strategic investments like this, the Government of Canada is building on regional strengths to help secure Canada’s position as a world leader in innovative health technologies.

“With today’s announcement, we are bringing together the strengths of Kitchener–Waterloo and London to create an environment where Canada’s health tech innovators can emerge and thrive.” - Raj Saini, Member of Parliament for Kitchener Centre
“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.” - Tim Louis, Member of Parliament for Kitchener–Conestoga
“Start-ups in the health tech sector will be able to access the resources they need to develop, test and demonstrate their ideas right here in southwestern Ontario with this FedDev Ontario investment.” - Peter Fragiskatos, Member of Parliament for London North Centre
“Our message has been clear from the beginning of the pandemic: the health of Canadians is our top priority. With this investment, we are fostering made-in-Canada health tech solutions, creating highly-skilled jobs, and supporting the businesses that will keep Canada at the forefront of this vital sector.” - The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario
“Today’s investment amplifies the work of local leaders including healthcare professionals and medtech entrepreneurs in the Waterloo Region to retain and develop talent, create good jobs, and attract capital. Our government supports strategic partnerships like the southwestern Ontario health tech innovation cluster which promotes economic growth and builds on our region’s strengths, while helping Canada remain a world leader in innovative health technologies.” - The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and Member of Parliament for Waterloo
“The Government of Canada’s investment into Velocity, the Innovation Arena, and this partnership will create opportunities for startups, scaling companies, researchers, and medical and technology innovators to work together across southwestern Ontario, expanding the pipeline of innovations for Canadians while driving economic growth.” - Dr. Vivek Goel, President and Vice‑Chancellor, University of Waterloo
“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.” - Alan Shepard, President of Western University
“We are very thankful for the Government of Canada partnering with us on this important initiative. With the City of Kitchener and the University of Waterloo’s investments, we are well on our way to reinforcing Kitchener’s place among global leaders in health innovation. The current pandemic has brought the importance of the health sector to the forefront, and we know our residents and Canadians in general are best served when we innovate and produce goods and services locally.” - His Worship Berry Vrbanovic, Mayor, City of Kitchener

Quick facts

  • The Innovation Arena is a planned partnership between the University of Waterloo and the City of Kitchener to further develop the Health Sciences Campus in downtown Kitchener’s Innovation District. It will feature shared product development labs, manufacturing and collaborative office spaces, and will be the new home of Velocity, University of Waterloo’s flagship entrepreneurship program.

  • The health tech sector has been identified as the fastest growing segment within life sciences.

  • In Ontario, the life sciences sector employs nearly 90,000 people at more than 6,000 firms. There are over 130 health tech companies in the Waterloo Region.

  • 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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