Our collaborative space and diverse team enables researchers and industry to bring new ideas, prototypes or products for testing in pre-clinical and clinical environments.

Logo for the University of Calgary
Logo of Alberta Health Services


Our collaborative space and diverse team enables researchers and industry to bring new ideas, prototypes or products for testing in pre-clinical and clinical environments.

Logo for the University of Calgary
Logo of Alberta Health Services

Welcome to W21C!

We are a research and innovation initiative based in the University of Calgary (UCalgary) and the Calgary Zone of Alberta Health Services (AHS). W21C conducts health systems research with the overarching mandate to improve patient safety and quality of care. Through this strategic research and innovation agenda, we hope to MAKE CARE BETTER for our communities, both now and in the future.


Define the future of health care


To innovate, create, educate, and evolve to build new paradigms of health care delivery

Reasons to Work with Us!


Direct Access to
Clinical Spaces:

The W21C consists of two separate research spaces. 1) W21C “Living Laboratory”  – Unit 36, Foothills Medical Centre, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Unit 36 is a hospital Medical Teaching Unit (MTU) that allows us to conduct and apply research and health innovations directly within the health system, on an actual patient ward. 2) W21C Research and Innovation Centre, in the Teaching, Research, and Wellness Building (TRW) at the Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. This facility allows our team to pursue applied health Research and Development partnerships and applications with commercial potential. It also houses our Healthcare Human Factors and Simulation Laboratory (HHFSL).


Team of Experts:

In addition to physicians and other health care providers, our team consists of specialists with backgrounds from a vast array of disciplines, including: Sociology, computer science, business, psychology, engineering, anthropology, communications, genetics, and biology, to name a few. We believe an interdisciplinary team provides a well-rounded view of each challenge we are presented with. This breadth of expertise allows us to explore research problems from a variety of lenses, allowing us to find solutions that are formed from a range of perspectives.


& Partnerships:

Collaborations and partnerships are the backbone of the research that takes place at W21C. In addition to the strategic partnership between AHS and the University of Calgary, we target areas for improvement in our health system by working with:

  1. Clinicians, healthcare providers, and researchers from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds, locally, nationally, and internationally
  2. The public sector (e.g., AHS, Health Quality Council of Alberta)
  3. Industry partners, from small to medium start-ups, to larger internationally recognized organizations.

Our Story


The Ward of the 21st Century (W21C) is a research and innovation initiative based at the University of Calgary (UCalgary) and in the Calgary zone of Alberta Health Services (AHS). The W21C was created to respond to the urgent need for innovation in health care. The Canadian Adverse Events Study (Baker 2004) reported that as many as 20,000 deaths occurred annually in Canadian hospitals from preventable adverse events. This finding drew considerable attention to the issues of safety and quality in health care, resulting in a call for strategic research and innovation to address the challenges in health care systems.

W21C began in 2004 with the creation and opening of a state-of-the-art Medical Unit – Unit 36 at the Foothills Medical Centre (FMC) in Calgary. This unit functions as a “Living Laboratory” – a beta test site for researchers to explore prototypical hospital design, novel approaches to health care delivery, human factors research, and the use of new and innovative medical technologies.

In 2008, W21C received funding to expand its research space with the construction of the W21C Research and Innovation Centre – located in the University of Calgary Cumming School of Medicine’s Teaching, Research and Wellness (TRW) Building. Doors opened to the new W21C Research and Innovation Centre in the Fall of 2009.

These clinical and research spaces enable health system innovation and engage our multidisciplinary researchers to collaborate on exciting approaches to improve patient care.

Institutional Partnerships

AHS’ allocation of space for research in immediate proximity to a clinical ward (Unit 36, FMC), along with the corresponding allocation of a separate Cumming School of Medicine research and innovation space in the TRW Building, illustrates the powerful institutional backing that this initiative receives within the province to enhance patient safety and quality of care in the health system.


As a University-based program, W21C’s governance channels through the UCalgary’s Cumming School of Medicine research enterprise, with primary alignment within the O’Brien Institute for Public Health.  The University of Calgary provides W21C with its infrastructure and building operations costs, trust accounting, human resources services, and other institutional benefits.


Original funding for W21C was provided through a combined federal-provincial investment (a total of $3.6 million until 2013) under the Canada-Alberta Western Economic Partnership Agreement (WEPA). This support – in addition to contributions from UCalgary, Alberta Health and Wellness (AH&W), AHS, Alberta Innovates and corporate donors and industry partnerships – has enabled W21C to provide the staffing and lab equipment needed to enable small and medium-sized firms to cost-effectively demonstrate new technological solutions and applications in a real healthcare setting.

Current W21C funding and support is provided by the Ministry of Jobs, Economy, and Innovation; Western Economic Diversification; ATCO Group; and Innovate Calgary.

All funding received over the years has helped strengthen W21C’s position as a leader in the health technology innovation sector.

For more information, please contact Dr. Jaime Kaufman, Interim Director, W21C.