W21C Research and Innovation Centre hosts fourth Innovation Academy Event

By Alex Baron

Innovation is the drive to make things better, and while Alberta’s economy is quickly evolving, our past as a highly entrepreneurial province will continue to lead us forward. Through strong partnerships and showcase events, that spirit of innovation is thriving at the University of Calgary, providing a strong launching point for growth and diversification in the Alberta economy.

The W21C Research and Innovation Centre based in the University of Calgary’s O’Brien Institute for Public Health is working campus wide to promote and celebrate innovation at UCalgary. On October 30, several UCalgary Innovation ecosystem partners were present at W21C’s premier event, the 2019 W21C Innovation Academy. Life Sciences Innovation Hub, Hunter Hub of Entrepreneurial Thinking, Biomedical Engineering at the University of Calgary, Innovation 4 Health, and Campus Alberta Neuroscience were all present to highlight the resources that they could provide UCalgary innovators.

Due to its unique format the W21C Innovation Academy is a desirable event for health care innovators to attend. Initially developed by health care organizations in Geneva, Switzerland, the innovation academy concept is both a business pitch and scientific competition that celebrates local innovation. This biennial event is viewed as one-step in an innovation’s developmental journey and the highest ranked teams from Calgary will now get the opportunity to compete at the fourth Global Healthcare Innovation Academy (GHIA) taking place June 22 & 23, 2020 in Toronto. Supported by five international partners (W21C, Unity Health Toronto, Geneva University Hospitals, University of Brighton in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong Polytechnic University), GHIA builds global connections and opportunities for healthcare innovators with the goal that these innovations enter the healthcare system and support patients.

At the W21C Innovation Academy, three teams between the Social and Biomedical Innovation streams were awarded the opportunity to compete at GHIA next summer. DESTINE Health Inc., which created a cloud-based software that could assist healthcare administrators create and optimize transport protocols for acute stroke patients, would take first place in the Social Innovation stream. The research that helped support their software was performed in the Departments of Clinical Neurosciences and Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary.

Attendees of 2019 W21C Innovation Academy during a presentation. Photo credit: Alex Baron

Fluid Biotech and SmartDrain would place first and second respectively in the Biomedical Innovation stream. Fluid Biotech showcased their bioabsorbable, flow-diverting stents that can be used to treat brain aneurysms, a product that was created with the support of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Calgary. While SmartDrain’s innovation is a unique screw-like apparatus that provides depth control support and acts as a conduit between the chest cavity and exterior for chest tube insertion.

Innovation at UCalgary is continually progressing and evolving with tomorrow’s healthcare solutions coming from the creative minds of today. Events such as the W21C Innovation Academy support those ideas and allow them to grow. If you want to learn more about local healthcare innovations or are interested in participating in future events please click here.

Winner of the First Place Biomedical Innovation sponsored by University of Calgary Biomedical Engineering: Fluid Biotech. Photo Credit: Dr. Alim P. Mitha


Winner of Second Place Biomedical Innovation sponsored by Campus Alberta Neuroscience, and the People’s Choice Winner: SmartDrain. Photo Credit: Alex Baron


Winner Social Innovation team presented by the O’Brien Institute for Public Health: DESTINE Health Inc. Photo credit: Alex Baron