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Innovators wanted
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Innovators wanted 

Perhaps what you need is an innovation broker. Ontario’s Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist (OCHIS) has formally announced the province’s first three innovation brokers who are tasked with helping startups, individuals and companies navigate the system and access sources of support, test sites for gathering feedback from patients and clinicians, as well as guidance and mentorship in moving innovation ideas from development to adoption and diffusion in Ontario’s health care system.

The approach is a departure from the typical establishment of innovation networks and hubs.

“These are people who have been in the field and have gathered on what’s happening…they know the ins and outs and they are here to help you,” said William Charnetski, chief health innovation strategist for Ontario. “This is a new model. It hasn’t been done before.”

The province’s first three innovation brokers introduced this week at the Ryerson University’s DMZ tech incubator facility in Toronto are:

Jennifer Zelmer, president at Azimuth Health Group. Zelmer has a strong expertise in clinical adoption of health technologies. Zelmer and her team will mentor innovators topics such as value-based procurement and the calculation of return on investment among other things.

Martin Gurbin, vice-president, and founder of Sunnybrook International. Gurbin’s expertise is international business. He will work with health technology innovators to define and communicate their value proposition to Ontario-based health service providers. Gurbin will assist innovators to build partnerships and business development opportunities.

Karen Michell, executive director of the Council of Academic Hospitals of Ontario (CAHO). CAHO is an alliance of Ontario’s 23 research hospitals. Michell and her team can help clear the path to market by “pulling innovation into Ontario’s health system.” Her work will focus on matching the needs and priorities of Ontario research hospitals with the innovative solutions underway in Ontario.

“My role is to be a mentor, a guide, and a commenter,” said Gurbin. “If you have a technology, gadget, widget, device, or app that is geared towards addressing a challenge in the health care system, I can help drive the deal forward.”

There is no shortage of innovator in the province.

However, a common problem among startup businesses and technology developers is the need for business expertise, according to Zelmer. Many organizations may have a great technology in their hands but are not well versed in the intricacies of identifying and landing suitable funding, having their products tested and validated for use in the province’s health care system, or connected with the appropriate health care organization that can adopt their technology, she said.

How much will this assistance cost the innovator?

“Nothing,” was Zelmer’s reply when asked how much a call to her advice would be.

“The cost of the call would be the mobile fees you pay your provider,” she said. “This service we provide is free.”

Tatum Wilson, director of stakeholder relations for CAHO, said the technologies presented to the innovation brokers have to be geared towards solving a current or future challenge in the province’s health care system.

 For instance, this could be new mobile devices designed to help patients monitor their vital signs in the hospital and at home, or software which provides cancer patients access information about the upcoming test, appointments.

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