Most Canadians associate Windsor Ontario with the auto sector. However, last Monday, September 15th, MEDEC CEO Brian Lewis and MEDEC VP of Government Affairs Nicole DeKort travelled to Windsor for an exciting ground-breaking meeting involving the medical sector. MEDEC is the national association created by and for the Canadian medical technology industry.
Lewis and Dekort were invited to meet with medical technology companies and to help launch an important Health Corridor initiative for the Windsor-Detroit region. Over the past year, WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation, WEtech Alliance, the University of Windsor, St. Clair College and other community partners have worked to develop the Cross-Border Health Corridor Initiative.
The unique geographical proximity of Windsor to Detroit offers access to world-class medical institutions, universities, and educated personnel on both sides of the border, while at the same time allowing companies to take advantage of Canada’s lower regulatory barriers, generous incentives for R&D, and the lower cost of doing business in the region. A corridor that has one foot in Canada and one in the US facilitates faster adoption of new and innovative products for the health care system. This initiative aims at supporting research & development and clinical trials to attract medical innovators and build a thriving reputable medical corridor in the region.
This exciting first-ever meeting was conducted at the Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital. The participants included the CEOs of the local hospitals, St. Clair College CEO, University of Windsor researchers, prominent Deans and community leaders involved in the medical industry and cross-border projects.
About 20 industry representatives mostly the presidents or high ranking executives of medical technology companies from the region in Canada and USA attended and met for the first time their industry associations: MEDEC CEO and MEDEC’s Michigan counter-part MichBio CEO. These companies are science based medical technology enterprises of various stages from pre-revenues to established businesses. The meeting provided them the opportunity to connect with like-minded peers.
The conference was chaired by Sandra Pupatello, a former Industry and Trade Minister for Ontario. In her current role as the CEO of the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation, she assured that the presentations and discussions were focused on supporting life science companies, reducing border barriers, and landing out-of-town medical companies in the region.
MEDEC CEO Brian Lewis outlined the baseline characteristics of thriving medical technologies communities in Canada. He concluded that the proximity of Windsor and Detroit, the presence of a high tech workforce and large hospitals with significant specialty base, as well as, a diverse population are key advantages for this region. “We know that access to markets, capital, and incentives are very important” said Lewis “the success rate of innovative medical companies increases when the focus is on adoption, adoption and adoption”.
Bill Marra, VP at the hosting hospital, discussed the opportunity to support the medical industry. He led participants on a short tour. Rakesh Naidu, COO of WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation presented evidence of the advantages of carrying out clinical trials, R&D, and manufacturing in Windsor Essex. Deborah Livneh, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at WEtech Alliance described several of the acceleration programs offered to health technology innovators and offered help in commercializing new medical technologies. She announced the Detroit-Windsor Hacking Health event scheduled for the spring.
The companies in attendance expressed great interest in the content of the presentation by MEDEC VP, Nicole DeKort, including the comparison of regulatory requirements in Canada and USA. DeKort reviewed opportunities for medical device companies with federal free trade agreements and provincial incentive programs that support the sector. MEDEC resources and services were explained to attendees.
At the end of day, it was clear that the visit of MEDEC leaders was a great catalyst for the launch of a long term vision. Life Science industry Peer Group was initiated and the Cross-border Health Corridor initiative was welcomed by stakeholders from both sides of the border. Community partners expressed eagerness to engage collaboratively and push forward supporting a thriving Health sector in the region.