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Government & Policy

Ottawa supports assistive technology in BC

VANCOUVER – The federal government announced it will provide $340,000 to the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) for the development of a Medical and Assistive Devices Commercialization Office.

This new office will expand the services of BCIT’s Health Technology Research Group and enhance ongoing research and development activities. It will allow health technologies to be marketed across Western Canada by providing detailed business planning to innovators and developers.

“The work done at BCIT is a catalyst for the development and commercialization of innovative health technologies, and is helping to improve the lives of people with physical disabilities,” said Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, federal minister of Western Economic Diversification. “BCIT staff and researchers should be commended for their continued innovation and entrepreneurship.”

“As a polytechnic institution, BCIT remains focused on applications and commercialization,” said Dr. Jim Reichert, BCIT vice president. “We will build our bench strength in this area thanks to this significant support by Western Economic Diversification Canada. The funding of a commercialization office allows us to put even greater effort forward.”

Western Economic Diversification Canada is the federal department mandated to support economic diversification in communities across Western Canada through activities that promote and assist innovation, entrepreneurship, and sustainable communities. Funding for this project was provided for in the March 2004 federal budget.

B.C. Institute of Technology’s Health Technology Research Group (HTRG) promotes the growth of the B.C. and Canadian medical and assistive devices industry.

For more than 12 years the HTRG has engaged in the development and evaluation of medical and assistive devices (technology designed for people with physical disabilities).

Core competencies are in prototype development (including engineering, industrial design, electronics, plastics) and product evaluation (including gerontology, biomechanics, human factors, epidemiology).

The HTRG has a core research staff of eight full-time and seven part-time employees. The group also draws upon BCIT’s teaching faculty and staff for specific expertise as needed. The group works with unique, world-class facilities and equipment, including the Dr. Tong Louie Living Laboratory for state-of-the-art product evaluation and focus groups, and the Centre for Rehabilitation Engineering and Technology that Enables (CREATE) for prototype development.

Clients include a wide variety of private sector device development companies, academic institutions, industry associations and government organizations.

Since 1990, BCIT’s HTRG has actively participated in the growth of the medical and assistive device industry in B.C. and is an active member in the Canada West Health Innovation Council’s (CWHIC) business plan development for this industry. Clients and partner organizations all have the common goal of developing commercially successful medical and assistive devices.

The new medical and assistive device commercialization office will work with past and existing clients of BCIT to assist them with the development of commercialization plans including independent market research, business plan development and access to investment.

The commercialization office will consist of a team of technology transfer personnel, resources and systems. The commercialization office will be a prototype that may be used by the Medical Device Innovation Network, under development by CWHIC, with potential for an expanded role or the creation of satellite operations across Western Canada.

The Technology Centre is the applied research and technology transfer office of BCIT. Through this centre, BCIT conducts contract applied research and development for industry in a wide range of technical fields.

For more information about the new medical and assistive device commercialization office, contact Nancy Paris-Seeley, Director, Health Technology Research Group, BCIT Technology Centre, at 604-432-8754.