The Challenge

When it comes to supporting innovative technologies that advance healthcare, Canada has a two-pronged problem. First, Canadian companies need to compete in global markets. To do so, they must demonstrate the efficacy and/or cost-savings of their technologies with data generated by testing new technologies in practical, real-life healthcare settings. Because of the challenges of doing this in Canada, companies are relocating to markets abroad. And Canadians are losing out on health innovations, health outcomes, and economic impact.

Second, healthcare globally is going through a disruptive phase and digital health is leading the way. Global digital health is the fastest area of growth in healthcare with a projected 18.8 % CAGR from 2020-2026. But in Canada, we’re lagging behind our peers, and it is affecting the performance of our health systems and our outcomes.

The Opportunity

At Health Cities we collaboratively support the health technology sector to achieve global competitiveness. The health technology sector is experiencing unprecedented growth in Alberta and is a proven investable industry. According to numbers provided by Canadian Venture Capital & Private Equity Association (CVCA)1, over $150 million CAD have been invested in more than 45 health and life sciences companies in Alberta between 2020 and 2022. All these companies—and more investments are happening every quarter—will require live clinical settings to test, validate, and scale their innovative solutions.

Key technology areas fueling digital health growth include artificial intelligence, internet of things (IoT), and immersive technologies, such as augmented and virtual reality, all of which are specific areas of strength for Alberta (and Canada).

We have an opportunity to leverage our digital health growth and technology testing strengths to improve healthcare outcomes, address our current healthcare delivery challenges, and accelerate a knowledge-based sector that can be a significant contributor to job growth in Alberta. Health Cities is focused on collaboratively creating innovation pathways for regional SMEs to test, validate, and scale their novel solutions in live clinical settings. We have established a platform to accomplish this.

The Health Verticals Innovation Platform

There are multiple health settings, which we call verticals, each with different needs that offer unique pathways to market. In some cases, provincial governments are increasing funding to these verticals (e.g. long term care and home care).

Health Verticals graphic (8)

Based on our mapping of the health systems in Canada, key verticals that offer unique markets include:

  • Primary care (PCNs in community)
  • Indigenous care
  • Continuing care
  • Home care
Our goal in partnership with funders is to develop commercialization pathways for each of these verticals so that regional SMEs will have multiple pathways to enter these healthcare markets. Digital health integration will be a primary function in all verticals and will have a dedicated stream. 

The challenges Canadian health technology companies face with testing their solutions in our health systems are only matched by the difficulties in having their proven technologies procured by health systems. We have found that in all the identified healthcare verticals, the key reason for this challenge is capacity (human resources) and “know-how.” All verticals of our health system are at capacity. This is truer today (post-pandemic) than ever before.

There are, however, new opportunities in the verticals. In almost all health care environments, there are pressures to innovate and to procure more cost-effective solutions. Today, established health care delivery organizations are more willing than ever before to partner with new innovators to address this challenge.

1.  Custom Report provided by Canadian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association