This has been an exciting year for Health City. Since I started as CEO in March 2018, there has been a great deal of activity to get our team up and running and our organization set to do the work we want to do in this ecosystem. Over the last several months, I connected and met with many of you to test my vision of how we want to deliver on our strategy that will move the needle on the opportunities and challenges we’ve identified. This check-in with our stakeholders was valuable and clear: our role at Health City as an economic development initiative is to collaborate with our community to increase opportunities for health innovation in the region, to scale those opportunities rapidly and to unify our voice as an ecosystem.

I’d like to thank the members of the original Health City Steering Committee and Standing Committees for the great work that was done in 2017 to set the Health City strategy. This has been the foundation for the enthusiasm and support from individuals and organizations within our local health ecosystem. The interest in Health City continues to grow – we are working with our community to address investment, global scale and reach, mentorship, talent development and additional partners. There are many of you that we still need to engage; we are working to create more opportunities through our events, social platforms, website and stakeholder meetings to further build our community.

There is a powerful convergence of leadership, talent, collaboration and will in this region that is igniting and fuelling the shift in the way we approach health innovation and economic development. The momentum and potential of what is happening here, now, in Edmonton means that we are accomplishing things in this ecosystem that would not have been possible just a few years ago.

The greater Edmonton region has an opportunity to serve as an example for the rest of Canada: to build a stronger economy by taking a lead in developing, validating and exporting novel health solutions to the rest of Canada and abroad and at the same time transforming health to meet the evolving needs of our populace.

Please read more about our recent partnerships, collaborations and our vision going forward, as well as some of the ways to connect with us, below.

– Reg

Reg Joseph, CEO, Health City

Updating our Stakeholders over bacon 

On February 1, 2019, we hosted our inaugural Stakeholders and Bacon event, inviting over 170 key stakeholders to discuss where Health City started and where we want to go. The event was a great success, featuring 14 speakers from across Alberta & Canada (plus a few we skyped in from the UK), including Mayor Iveson, our chair, Jason Pincock and our CEO, Reg Joseph. 68 people even joined our live-stream link! If you didn’t attend, we’ve posted video and presentation slides from that day, as well as a summary of the event

Working Groups Launch

On February 1, we announced the launch of our new Working Groups. A valuable part of the Health City governance model, the Working Groups are managed by a chair who reports to the Board. Members of the working groups are representatives of the health innovation community, come from organizations that bring different perspectives to the table and have the capacity, skills and ability to roll up their sleeves and commit to execute on the projects identified.

The new Working Groups will focus on persistent challenges in priority areas identified by our stakeholders. The initial four working groups will be titled: Talent Works, Powering Smart Decisions, Financing for Impact and Target to Market. For detailed descriptions of the focus of each group, see our web page

We envision the Working Group process as a bold experiment designed to show the impact of coalescing and focusing aspects of the Edmonton health innovation ecosystem on a defined need. The Working Groups process will be flexible, responsive, iterative and nimble and be driven by input from its members and stakeholders. If a working group finds that robust collaborations or programs already exist in their priority area, it may decide to change focus or otherwise prevent duplication of effort.

Working Group members will undertake short-term projects and plan for longer term initiatives in these priority areas. The goals of the Working Groups are to deliver tangible results that are viable steps towards solutions and, through their work, build strength and cohesion in Edmonton’s health innovation community.

Health City’s priority for 2019 is identifying, executing and delivering on short-term projects and preparing a plan for longer-term initiatives.

We will be updating the community on the progress of these groups over the next several months. If you or your organization would like to find out more about membership in our Working Groups, please contact us here 

The Health City vision: Our opportunity in the new health economy

We see an opportunity in our region to model a key way of approaching health innovation. We can capitalize on both the challenges we have in our health system and the rapid technological evolution happening in the health industry to explore new ways to address these challenges. Currently, many of these challenges are treated or addressed in a reactive or “acute” way with the highest burden in chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity, cardiovascular disease and mental health.  We are instead developing a model that is predictive, preventative and wellness-based.

We are creating economic “engines of growth” to enable innovators – especially companies – to co-develop, validate, adopt and showcase the capabilities in our region. We’re doing this by engaging local health practitioners that are addressing health challenges (like obesity and diabetes, seniors’ frailty, opioid addiction and youth mental health). We then strive to pair these initiatives with novel capabilities from industry – including smaller local companies, large multinationals and non-traditional health companies – to co-develop solutions to these challenges. And we bring to the table other players like academia and the philanthropic sector. Our role is to serve as an honest broker and identify what all parties can bring to the table – this includes relationships, expertise, global reach, global & local investment, talent, innovation or policy influence. We de-risk the environment and accelerate our innovators’ solutions.

The result is a model that creates co-developed solutions to common health challenges that have global relevance – this means that solutions built here can scaled and spread both locally and exported to global markets.

A unique model of data-driven care

One of the key components of this model is our unique approach of combining the power of health data together with social services program data and municipal data (e.g. within the City of Edmonton Open Data portal) to drive smart decision-making in community health. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in our region will have the opportunity to develop component solutions for these challenges and then use the data on their solution to market their products and services globally. We are interested in engaging companies in the technology areas of artificial intelligence & machine learning, augmented & virtual reality, blockchain and IoT (Internet of Things). All data will be used behind the clinicians’ firewall under their stewardship, using existing ethics protocols.  No ownership of data is transferred or even shared with outside parties.  Innovation partners will be able to access aggregate, de-identified data (publication style) for their reference.

This data opportunity is attracting keen interest from many different organizations, including industry (large and small), academia and the philanthropic sector. These organizations are willing to bring innovation, investment, talent and other resources to our projects. This ground-breaking and novel model of data-driven care can be scaled across Canada to drive better health outcomes, plus have local economic impact.

This spring, we hope to announce one of the first projects developed within this model.

Raising the profile of our health ecosystem and innovation in our region

One of our goals at Health City is to work with our many partners in the innovation ecosystem to raise the profile of the good work and many programs, services and capital that are available here in our region. To that end, we have sponsored, supported, partnered and collaborated with many organizations as we work together to make our ecosystem even stronger. (Click on the titles to find out more about each item.)

Health Innovation Roundup by Taproot

Health City is pleased to sponsor the Health Innovation Roundup, a digital e-newsletter published by Taproot Edmonton every Wednesday that provides readers with the latest headlines & happenings in Edmonton’s health innovation sector. If you sign up for a Taproot membership using the code HEALTHCITY, you’ll get 10% off the first year.

Think Bigger TEC Valhalla Angels Basecamp and Pitch Night

An exclusive two-day investment seminar for entrepreneurs actively raising or interested in learning more about raising capital and financing their companies. Our sponsorship helped several health companies attend the event for free. At the pitch night following the Basecamp, our team sat on the panel that provided feedback to the pitch participants. We were excited to see over 15 up-and-coming health companies we had not seen before pitch some fantastic products and ideas!

Smart Cities $50 Million Finalist Proposal

Edmonton Smart Cities submitted their finalist proposal; we were a big supporter and participated in the media event for the final submission.

Health City Breakfast Series

In November, we picked up the baton to carry on the Alberta Health Industry Association’s (AHIA) well-established breakfast series they had run for so many years. So far, we have held two successful breakfast events, including our latest on March 5th: A Global Perspective on Cluster-based Economic Development with Ifor Ffowcs-Williams. We’ll hold these breakfasts every 2-3 months – sign up for our mailing list to receive our next invite.

McMaster Health Forum

Reg participated in this Canadian-wide panel of key health system stakeholders to provide insights on an evidence brief about the future of health innovation leaders in Canada.

Canada’s MedTech Conference, Toronto

Reg will be speaking on a Canada-wide panel at this upcoming conference called “Coast to Coast Innovation”, April 3rd.

Some more upcoming events that we are involved with or helping to support:

CADTH Symposium, Edmonton April 14-16, 2019

Singularity U, Canadian Summit, April 23-24, 2019

Inventures, June 5-7, 2019

We’ve also recently become a member of the European Connected Health Alliance (ECHAlliance) to expand our connections and benefit from the shared learnings of this vast network.

And don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn for the latest news about Health City and the ecosystem. Or, connect with us through our website here.