Minister Bains announces investment to accelerate medical breakthroughs that will enable

From: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Innovation competition brings together more than 90 partners from across Canada to deliver better health outcomes for Canadians

May 23, 2019 – Montréal, Quebec

From the discovery of insulin to stem cell research, Canadians have long been at the forefront of groundbreaking innovations in health and biosciences. That’s why the Government of Canada organized a competition for innovation initiatives at the intersection of data and our health and biosciences sector-to invest in better health outcomes while creating and maintaining good middle-class jobs across the country.

Today the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, announced an investment of up to $49 million in the Digital Health and Discovery Platform (DHDP), a network of partners that seeks to establish a cutting-edge Canada-wide health data platform. Through this new platform, researchers and doctors will work to accelerate the development of new and personalized treatments to help to find cures for diseases that affect Canadians. While the platform will initially focus on cancer, the plan is to expand to other areas of medicine in future.

Led by the Terry Fox Research Institute and Imagia, the network will connect almost 100 partners across Canada, including health care institutions; small, medium-sized and large companies; universities and research foundations; and all four major artificial intelligence (AI) research labs in Canada. Together, they will establish a Canada-wide AI platform that will connect to different sources of health data to accelerate research. For example, cancer centres and research hospitals will be able to quickly share data to test theories about how to best treat aggressive cancers and develop better treatments for each patient.

Through this investment, Canadians will benefit from more personalized treatments and a more collaborative health care system that is better positioned to maximize medical breakthroughs.

DHDP’s project, estimated at $159 million, will also help to create and maintain highly skilled jobs and provide training opportunities across Canada. It will lead to the creation of innovative new start-ups and support the growth of small and medium-sized businesses.

The Government of Canada believes that trust is the foundation for economic growth and innovation. The platform will be patient-centric and will ensure the consent of participating patients and the largest health institutions and uphold the highest standards for data privacy, security and safety.

“This investment promises not only to improve the future of Canadians’ health but also to do it with made-in-Canada solutions. By harnessing Canada’s strengths in health research and AI, we’re helping to usher in a new era of more personalized care that will mean better health outcomes. We’re excited to see all the new health and biosciences innovations that will result from this collaboration.”

– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“The time to harness the power of AI is now so that we continue to augment Canada’s position on the global AI stage. By combining the experience of its clinical collaborators, industry, AI institute partners and the Terry Fox Research Institute, Imagia will fulfill its mission to make accessible personalized health care a clinical reality. The Canadian government’s strategic grant will fuel a significant next step in the life-changing work of Imagia and the Terry Fox Research Institute. Our complementary strengths in research and AI is a fierce combination that will spark the critical change needed for scientific discoveries, improved diagnostics, and more effective treatments resulting from new, scaled technologies.”

– Alexandre Le Bouthillier, Ph.D., Founder, Imagia

“We thank the Honourable Minister Bains and the Government of Canada for their vote of confidence in this pan-Canadian, multi-partner collaborative partnership that brings together the nation’s best minds in precision medicine and artificial intelligence. The new Digital Health and Discovery Platform will help us to transform cancer research and care in Canada by enabling the new Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres network to analyze enormous amounts of genomic and clinical data to find new and better ways to treat cancer patients no matter where they live in Canada.”

– Dr. Victor Ling, President and Scientific Director, Terry Fox Research Institute

Quick facts

  • On May 21, 2019, Minister Bains launched Canada’s new Digital Charter, which includes a set of principles that will help build a foundation of trust in a digital world for Canadians and Canadian businesses. It will guide the Government of Canada’s actions as it continues to build an innovative, people-centred and inclusive digital and data economy.

  • DHDP is expected to begin with an initial composition of 95 partners across nine provinces, including 31 health care institutions, 19 companies, 7 universities, 22 research foundations, granting agencies and non-government organizations, as well as all four major Canadian AI research labs.

  • This project is consistent with the recommendations of the Health and Biosciences Economic Strategy Table for nationally robust, digitalized, interconnected and patient-centred health data infrastructure.

  • This investment is made through stream 4 of the Strategic Innovation Fund, a program designed to attract and support high-quality business investments in Canada’s most dynamic and innovative sectors.

  • DHDP is one of two winning projects selected for funding after a rigorous competition under the Strategic Innovation Fund, first announced on June 28, 2018.

  • In addition to the Strategic Innovation Fund, there are hundreds of programs and services to help businesses innovate, create jobs and grow Canada’s economy. With a simple, story-based user interface, the Innovation Canada platform can match businesses with the most fitting programs and services in about two minutes.

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