Leading technology hub, ventureLAB, has announced a $2.5 million investment from the Government of Ontario to establish a MedTech-specific stream within its Hardware Catalyst Initiative (HCI), Canada’s only lab and incubator for hardware and semiconductor companies. The funding is part of the Ontario Together Fund, from the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, and builds on a $9.7 million investment from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).
The timely investment will enable ventureLAB to support made-in-Ontario medical solutions and will strengthen Ontario’s MedTech sector and technical capacity to fight COVID-19 and respond to future pandemics. Since opening in 2020, ventureLAB’s Hardware Catalyst Initiative has supported 24 Ontario hardware and semiconductor companies that have raised millions of dollars in investment capital, created new jobs, and generated valuable intellectual property. To establish an IP-rich semiconductor industry in Ontario that will generate a wealth of economic and employment opportunities – and to meet the growing demand for homegrown hardware companies – the funding will expand the Hardware Catalyst Initiative’s state-of-the-art testing and prototyping capabilities.
The funding will also be used to establish a MedTech-specific stream, with a new lab in Vaughan, Ontario, focused on the unique hardware and semiconductor needs of healthcare companies. By accessing HCI’s network of 35+ global industry leaders – who have committed over $50 million in resources and mentorship – as well as ventureLAB’s in-house experts with decades of designing, manufacturing, and go-to-market expertise, MedTech founders will experience accelerated commercialization time, reduced cost, access to deep sector expertise, and intensive growth capital. The two-year project will result in high-quality employment opportunities as well as a range of made-in-Ontario technologies, innovations, and intellectual property.
“Hardware and semiconductors underpin virtually all modern devices, and as we navigate our new normal, they are especially key in healthcare technologies, along with other sectors critical to economic recovery and growth,” explains Melissa Chee, President and CEO, ventureLAB. “The Ontario Together Fund enables ventureLAB to create a MedTech-focused HCI stream and empower a new generation of founders that will innovate, scale, and commercialize IP-rich healthcare solutions — transforming the face of patient care in Ontario while also attracting and retaining the very best talent in the world.”
Critical role of semiconductors in MedTech
Virtually every piece of technology used today requires semiconductors and sensors, including transformative healthcare solutions, life-saving medical devices, vaccine development, and products that help fight airborne viruses. COVID-19 highlighted numerous healthcare gaps, including operational inefficiencies, limited capacity to manufacture or secure PPE and ventilators, and challenges surrounding patient service delivery across the continuum of care.
“The Ontario Together Fund is helping Ontario businesses to fully develop their ideas and innovate in our diverse life sciences sector,” said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. “Our government is proud to partner with innovative, homegrown companies like ventureLAB as they help make Ontario the home for next-generation medical technologies, jobs and intellectual property.”
MedTech lab at Vaughan-Based Sterling Industries
Vaughan is emerging as the epicentre of healthcare innovation in Canada and, as such, is the perfect host for ventureLAB’s new MedTech lab. Vaughan is home to Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital, Canada’s first smart hospital, and is leading a first-of-its-kind initiative, the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct, which will bring further innovation and healthcare jobs to the region.
The new Hardware Catalyst Initiative MedTech lab will be located within Vaughan-based Sterling Industries to benefit from its resources, product development and production expertise. As an end-to-end contract manufacturer and assembler of medical devices and components, Sterling Industries is a proven industry leader with manufacturing facilities and distribution channels in the U.S. and Europe.
Pool and leverage resources
“Establishing a thriving MedTech sector requires investing in technology, top engineering talent, and a commitment to providing resources and mentorship to emerging companies looking to scale,” says David Van Slingerland, CEO, Sterling Industries. “We immediately recognized the value in ventureLAB’s new MedTech program because it ticks all of those boxes. If we want to move beyond COVID-19, and be better prepared for the next health emergency, we need to start building the foundation now.”
“I am pleased to welcome the announcement that ventureLAB will receive a $2.5 million investment through the Ontario Together Fund to help advance its innovative Hardware Catalyst Initiative. This significant funding contribution will help address a critical and immediate need for transformative healthcare solutions,” says Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua, City of Vaughan. “Vaughan is proud to partner with ventureLAB on many city-building opportunities, including a first-of-its-kind initiative to transform the 82-acre parcel of land adjacent to Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital into the Vaughan Healthcare Centre Precinct. This unique partnership aims to pool and leverage our resources to bring healthcare, innovation and jobs to our growing community.”