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Health care meets innovation in the Biomedical Zone

Toronto, September 20, 2018

By Madison Thakore

The Biomedical Zone's office
The Biomedical Zone's office

While it may be a small space, the Biomedical Zone is home to big ideas.

Found on the seventh floor of the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, the Biomedical Zone offers startup health-care technology companies a space to grow and a place for students to gain health-care entrepreneurship experience.

The Biomedical Zone began three years ago as an extension of a St. Michael’s and Ryerson University partnership. Dr. Linda Maxwell, surgeon and associate scientist at Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, is the founding executive director. The space is home to an innovative hub connecting clinicians, scientists and students with tech-savvy entrepreneurs with a drive to develop meaningful technology for the health-care industry.

Some of these connections include the WithWomen team, an integrated group of Ryerson engineering students and St. Michael’s Hospital clinician scientists, who have designed an application to discreetly connect a vulnerable patient population directly with clinicians. Another example is the company Verto, which has embedded itself within St. Michael’s Hospital to develop and deploy tech-driven solutions to enhance the patient experience.

“Innovation needs to be inclusive,” said Dr. Maxwell. “We have worked with everyone from department chiefs to medical residents to allied health professionals to researchers. Innovation is a space where everyone has a role to play and where all players, from students to physicians to entrepreneurs, can make meaningful contributions to a project.”

With a growing startup industry here in Toronto, the Biomedical Zone offers entrepreneurs a unique opportunity as the only hospital-embedded, physician-lead health-care technology incubator in Canada.

“It provides the hospital direct access to innovators and offers startup companies a huge benefit in getting direct, yet controlled, access to key opinion leaders, clinicians and other key stakeholders in the health-care industry,” said Dr. Maxwell. “Having access to the clinical environment, whether it’s a clinician, key decision maker or procurement agent, on top of the business support is a huge value for innovators.”

The Biomedical Zone generally hosts 15 to 17 startup companies in the incubator. The companies involved are at a variety of stages in the business life cycle.

“Much of what the Biomedical Zone does is driven by clinician need, multidisciplinary engagement and passion to make health-care better,” said Dr. Maxwell. “Our goal is to continue growing, providing more reach and impact beyond our four walls. We want to reach more organizations, students, innovators and people to continue to make real change happen.”

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 29 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

St. Michael’s Hospital with Providence Healthcare and St. Joseph’s Health Centre now operate under one corporate entity as of August 1, 2017. United, the three organizations serve patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education.


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