The Health Ecosphere Innovation Pipeline is improving lives with new healthcare advances

Recipient: The Health Ecosphere Innovation Pipeline (York University and Southlake Regional Health Centre)
Region: Toronto
Program: Investing in Commercialization Partnerships
Total funding allocated: up to $15 million

The Health Ecosphere Innovation Pipeline develops technology to positively impact people’s lives on a daily basis.
The Health Ecosphere Innovation Pipeline develops technology to positively impact people’s lives on a daily basis.

There’s an old saying that, “two heads are better than one,” so when it comes to developing a leading-edge healthcare system, partnerships are ultimately the best approach for bringing new ideas—and new technology—into action. New technology can result in a life-changing breakthrough; the end of an illness or the preservation of a young life.

In southern Ontario, a new collaborative initiative called the Health Ecosphere Innovation Pipeline (the Health Ecosphere) is bringing scientists, businesses and research institutes together to develop technology-guided solutions that will ultimately improve patient outcomes and reduce healthcare costs. The influential consortium is led by York University in partnership with Southlake Regional Health Centre, along with the University Health Network and other industry leaders. The Health Ecosphere is being supported by FedDev Ontario through Investing in Commercialization Partnerships—an Agency initiative that focuses on innovation, collaboration, commercialization and supporting business development through various stages of growth.

“FedDev Ontario has been instrumental in generating the push needed to formalize partnerships in our consortium,” says Niusha Barmala, Executive Director, the Health Ecosphere Innovation Pipeline. “We believe FedDev Ontario has created new economic momentum and we are honoured to be a part of this important initiative.”

The consortium operates with the vision that healthcare is a catalyst for improving population health and sustaining innovation. The group is dedicated to developing and deploying new technologies that address many of today’s biggest health challenges. As an example, Artemis is a first-of-its-kind neonatal health informatics research project that is the brainchild of Dr. Carolyn McGregor, a computer scientist and former Canada Research Chair in Health Informatics at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. In collaboration with Southlake Regional Health Centre and IBM Canada, this project is aimed at reducing mortality rates in premature babies.

SOSCIP, which is another consortium project funded through FedDev Ontario, helped establish the architecture of Artemis while supporting the data testing to ensure its readiness for a commercial launch. Subsequent funding through the Health Ecosphere has enabled market trials of Artemis with two new hospitals that are demonstrating its potential from a medicine perspective.

“This project has fostered three indirect partnerships and the platform has expanded to three countries,” says Barmala. “Artemis currently monitors 1,000+ babies in order to enable early diagnosis and treatment of critical neonatal problems.”

The Health Ecosphere has also developed BrDI and BrDI Flight, technology used for brain assessment and functionality training in at-risk dementia patients, as well as Medly, a chronic disease management platform that was operationally deployed at the Peter Munk Cardiac Centre at the Toronto General Hospital.

“This is just the beginning for us,” says Barmala. “The consortium is only half-way through its work and has already maintained and created 81 full-time jobs, more than 32 direct partnerships, with two products deployed internationally and two products licensed.”

According to Barmala, the Health Ecosphere Innovation Pipeline has the tools, partnerships and infrastructure needed to transform the health of Canadians, including Indigenous population health, all the while stimulating the southern Ontario economy. FedDev Ontario is proud to be a part of this partnership.

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FedDev Ontario has been more than a funder to us. Its operational and leadership teams have consistently shown their willingness to provide their expertise in solving multiple challenges that occur in multi-sector projects.
Niusha Barmala, Executive Director, The Health Ecosphere Innovation Pipeline