The federal government today announced a $10-million investment in health innovation through the University of Waterloo, the City of Kitchener and other partners in Southwestern Ontario.
UW’s renowned Velocity entrepreneurship program, located next to Communitech in downtown Kitchener, will receive $6.5 million to continue providing support for tech startups, according to the university.
The $10-million investment comes through the government's Federal Development (FedDev) Ontario program. The funding will support a new partnership involving UW, the City of Kitchener, Western University and Medical Innovation Xchange, to establish a health-tech innovation hub in the region, with partnerships across Southwestern Ontario.
The partnership and the federal investment is expected to yield significant results. The partners expect to create 730 skilled jobs; support the development and growth of 135 businesses; commercialize 150 new health-related products, services or processes; leverage $40 million in project funding; and attract over $400 million in follow-on investment in the companies supported, according to a government release.
Bardish Chagger, the federal Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth, and MP for Waterloo, said the investment “amplifies the work of local leaders.”
“Our government supports strategic partnerships like the Southwestern Ontario health-tech innovation cluster which promotes economic growth and builds on our region’s strengths, while helping Canada remain a world leader in innovative health technologies,” she said.
Raj Saini, MP for Kitchener Centre, and Tim Louis, MP for Kitchener–Conestoga, noted the importance of regional cooperation among tech and academic leaders in Waterloo Region and London.
According to UW, the new health-innovation partnership will strengthen the Canadian tech ecosystem, specifically in the health and medtech sector by supporting innovators and entrepreneurs from start to scale, providing companies with business, clinical and regulatory expertise, in addition to access to labs, facilities and equipment. Parts of the funding will be allocated to lab equipment for UW’s Innovation Arena, slated to open in 2023 in a renovated warehouse building at Victoria and Joseph streets in Kitchener’s Innovation District.
“The Government of Canada’s investment into Velocity, the Innovation Arena, and this partnership will create opportunities for startups, scaling companies, researchers, and medical and technology innovators to work together across southwestern Ontario, expanding the pipeline of innovations for Canadians while driving economic growth,” said Vivek Goel, President and Vice‑Chancellor of the University of Waterloo.
City of Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic said the city’s contribution to the Innovation Arena – up to $8.5 million – shows another level of community support for tech partnerships in Waterloo Region.
“With the City of Kitchener and the University of Waterloo’s investments, we are well on our way to reinforcing Kitchener’s place among global leaders in health innovation,” said Vrbanovic.
Communitech CEO Chris Albinson said the $10-million investment is another show of confidence in the region’s tech community.
"This investment in the Waterloo Region ecosystem and Southwestern Ontario is welcome recognition of our founders' growing strength in medical technology,” said Albinson. “We want to thank the federal government for this strategic investment, and we want to applaud all the partners for their vision, hard work and collaboration.”