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Government & Policy

Winnipeg set to launch healthcare technology incubator

WINNIPEG – Work has started on an $11.2 million facility that will spur the development of medical device, diagnostic imaging and healthcare I.T. companies in Manitoba. When completed in 2005, the new Centre for the Commercialization of Biomedical Technology (CCBT) will be able to house 40 companies seeking to expand and market their wares.

Included will be companies that develop diagnostic and imaging hardware and software, create data analysis and informatics products, undertake medical device manufacturing, or develop health information systems.

The cost of construction of the CCBT is estimated to be $11.2 million. Funds are being provided by the National Research Council as part of its community innovation strategy.

In addition, the Government of Manitoba is providing $2 million for the construction of the CCBT and initial support to develop a number of the centre’s programs.

“This will be a unique and innovative national centre for the commercial development of biomedical technology,” said Manitoba’s Energy, Science and Technology Minister Tim Sale. “It’s part of a bold new plan that adds to our commitment to make Manitoba a national centre for innovation in medical technologies and keep the commercialization of innovations in this province.”

While construction of the facility is scheduled for completion in the summer of 2005, the CCBT’s programs will be launched in 2004. In addition to welcoming biomedical and related firms and organizations as tenants, the centre will offer a number of entrepreneur- and commercialization-support programs.

The CCBT is part of a plan to build a bio-medical cluster of researchers, companies and leading-edge hospitals in Winnipeg. It will be located next door to the NRC’s Institute for Biodiagnostics, which specializes in diagnostic imaging and has itself spun off six companies.

The CCBT is unique in that it will house tenants from a number of stages of the company lifecycle, such as mature firms with well-established markets and start-up firms working to define their markets.

The centre also plans to offer space for entrepreneurs wanting to start-up a company. Each of these groups has their own distinct needs, which will be addressed.

• New Entrepreneurs Program. This program will focus on inventors or individuals in the formative stage of company creation. It’s designed to connect emerging entrepreneurs with individuals who possess business-planning skills.

Interns will assist entrepreneurs with business and market planning, intellectual property and organizational design. This arrangement will not only prepare the entrepreneur for successful firm start-up and launch, but also help business interns find employment in the entrepreneurs’ firms.

• Technology Acceleration Program. The Technology Acceleration Program is tailored to help start-up firms get support and solutions at the right time in their development. Firms will be supported in efforts to form networks and linkages with suppliers, customers, research institutions and markets.

They will have access to mentors and experts to obtain financial support from government and business. Participating companies will have already passed through the initial stages of the entrepreneurial process and will be more focused on product development and sales for their first product. These companies may be seeking their first or second round of venture capital.

• The Tenant Program. The Tenant Program is designed for mature firms that are active in the biomedical technology community. They will be champions and mentors to the Manitoba life sciences community and the emerging biomedical technology cluster.

The CCBT will also be home to a prototyping facility for design support and services. A teaching facility is planned and will provide educational institutions with a place to hold seminars and courses. This will allow the facility to expand upon the NRC-IBD/Red River College MRI Technologists Program.

Services offered by the centre will include:

• Technology and business analysis and planning:
• Market strategy assessment and planning;
• National and international mission and partnering support;
• Technology law and intellectual property protection;
• Skills assessment and development;
• Investment networking and advice;
• Mentoring.