The medical technology niche benefits from much excitement in the research community which works to implement leading-edge technologies and make them available for patients in need. The interest in medical technologies is also fuelled by the improvement in information technologies and communications and by its applications to medical technologies. As such, health technologies form a significant niche in the life sciences and health technologies (LSHT) community. In fact, the number of jobs in this sector, as well as the companies established, never ceases to grow. More than 40% of all LSHT jobs in Québec are in medical technologies. Approximately 50% of the companies in the community are also active in the medical technologies niche. This niche of excellence includes flagship sectors in which the industries and public institutions are known and where new biomedical initiatives are developed.
Imagery allows many pathological conditions to be diagnosed, treated and monitored. It is a pillar of medical technologies on which other technologies, such as neuroscience, are based. In fact, researchers very often use imagery and imaging markers in order to improve the diagnosis of neurological pathologies. This flagship sector – medical technologies – enables the Montréal metropolitan area to stand out in the area of health technologies, among other things, thanks to the advances of several stakeholders from the community:
The Canada Research Chair in Medical Imaging and Assisted Interventions, in affiliation with Polytechnique Montréal and under the leadership of Professor Samuel Kadoury, develops software tools for the analysis and processing of images in diagnostic and interventional medicine. The team validates new technologies in image registration, segmentation, organ atlas conception, statistical shape modeling, classification and minimally invasive treatments which are validated through clinical trials.
The Healthy Brain for Healthy Life project, financed by Canada First, aims to bring together a number of researchers, clinicians and research centres, including the Montréal Neurological Institute and Hospital (MNI), for purposes of studying different neurological conditions. These centres develop and use specialized technological platforms in the study of neuroscience. Within MNI, Dr. Guy Rouleur fuelled the development of the open science laboratory, aimed at making discoveries in neurology more accessible.
Several research platforms offer technologically advanced imaging services. Some are specialized in medical imaging for diagnosing cancerous and other cells. For example, the McConnel Brain Imaging Center performs neuroimaging.
EOS Imaging Inc. is a global company with an office in Montréal. It specializes in diagnostics and the treatment of osteo-articular pathologies and orthopedic surgery. It uses image-based solutions and information technology software and communications to direct their innovations. Innovations of Pr. de Guise have, most notably, been commercialized by EOS.
This key sector, namely, medical technologies, is, among other things, represented by research centres and companies that develop technologies adapted to patients and to specific conditions:
The centre de réadaptation pour les enfants ayant des troubles moteurs ou du langage (unofficially, rehabilitation centre for children with motor disabilities and speech impairments) of the CHU Sainte-Justine, supporting the Chaire de recherche en sciences du mouvement (unofficially, Research Chair in the Science of Movement) under the direction of Professor Hubert Labelle whose mission is to use computer-assisted clinical tools to medically and surgically treat musculoskeletal deformities of the spine and scoliosis deformities.
The LIO laboratory, set up in the CHUM, is made up of a team of engineers, who use several innovative techniques, led by Professor Jacques De Guise, from the École des technologies supérieures, in order to develop high-quality medical technologies. The team works, among other things, on the biomechanical assessment of the knee, pre- and post-surgery. This laboratory includes four Research Chairs.
The Centre de recherche interdisciplinaire en réadaptation du Montréal métropolitain (CRIR), specializes on two areas of research and encompasses more than 40 laboratories and research groups that work using innovative technological tools.
The Institut de réadaptation Gingras-Lindsay de Montréal focuses on research and the treatment of spinal cord injuries, physical health, neurology, amputations and severe orthopedic injuries. This research centre develops a number of medical technologies facilitating the research, diagnosis and treatment of these ailments.
Connected objects are part of medical technologies. They allow for connected health, that is, continuous monitoring of the patient’s health and an interface connecting patients’ data to the treating medical team. These technological tools are the result of a result pairing medical technologies, information technologies and health communication. Certain companies are recognized in this flagship sector for their growing initiatives :
Hexoskin is a Montréal-based company that develops smart clothing that tracks patients daily, gathering an enormous quantity of medical data. This apparel is used in several health spheres, including cardiology, pneumology, neurology, psychiatry or pediatrics. This data used within a connected health platform can be used for research purposes and as as communication tool for the caregiver.
CAE Healthcare offers health professionals products and simulators with the purpose of improving the training of health professionals and patient safety. They recently developed a new simulator manikin to train professionals on life support emergency techniques and on emergency care.
OSsimTech of Montréal develops simulators for orthopedic surgeries. Their programs are designed and developed by a multidisciplinary team and allow surgeons to test their abilities and improve their expertise.
As a secure, integrated, collaborative platform, Reacts incorporates innovative tools, like augmented reality. This platform offers to the actors of the health sector multiple collaborative needs of healthcare professionals and patients.
Telemedicine is increasingly widespread and is part of the connected health sector. Companies such as:
Dialogue and AlayaCare allow patients to have access to remote healthcare. As such, engineers from these companies develop technologies to allow virtual communication to take place between patients who are unable to travel and a physician or other health professionals. These health technologies were designed primarily to give access to specialized care to individuals living in remote regions.
Personalized healthcare involves the use of several technological tools to adapt the treatment of conditions based on the patient’s environment, lifestyle, in addition to his genomic profile and biomarkers specific to his profile. The biomarkers, targeted therapeutic technologies and diagnostic software for the specific genomic profile are tools used by the companies and institutions active in personalized healthcare. More and more companies are developing medical technologies in order to refine personalized treatments:
A personalized technology such as KneeKG was developed by Emovi, a Montréal-based company. It records data from the patient’s movements in order to establish a diagnosis not only on the causes and the source of the pain, but also on the symptoms. The KneeKG, now sold in Canada, the United States, Australia and France, allows health professionals to treat patients based on their personalized needs.
The PERFORM Centre of Concordia University, run by Habib Benali, brings together researchers, students and members of the local community to work in cutting-edge facilities that gather a large volume of patients’ health data. This data is then used to improve methods of managing a healthy lifestyle.
Montreal InVivo has produced a directory / dashboard on clinical biosensors to represent the Quebec ecosystem, to promote Quebec’s competitive elements in this niche, as well as to identify the most distinctive innovations.
A clinical biosensor is defined as any device that detects, records and transmits information regarding a human biological marker (biomarker) or a physiological process or any change in that process.
- Mapping of the best performing biosensors in Quebec:
- By clinical use:
- Analysis of human fluids (24 companies and research groups)
- Actimetry and Vital Signs (17)
- Others: retinal biomarker measurements (2), micro-nano devices (2), imaging (2) and oxygen therapy (1).
- By type / class: Bio-optical (24), biochemical (19), bioelectrical (13) and biomechanical (8) biosensors.
- By clinical use:
- Best Innovations / technologies developed in Quebec:
- Ocular oximetry
- Smart Textile
- Surface plasmon resonance (SPR)
Medtronic is a global company with offices in Montréal metropolitan area dedicated to research, development and production. They develop medical technologies for surgical care. The acquisition of Cryocath, a Montréal-based SME, allowed Medtronic to improve its competitive edge in the life sciences sector in Montréal and Québec and to further raise its profile.
In the technology transfer and medical technology commercialization sector, Menodys is recognized for providing market access to innovative technologies developed in university research centers. This Canadian company is made up of a team that understands and masters the components as well as the needs of the industry, which allows it to find innovative tools and make them accessible to patients.
Apex Precision, Daito Group and Diacarb Inc. are precision equipment machining and converting companies, recognized for their work in the medical and scientific sectors. Several companies are working with these experienced suppliers to develop their prototypes.
The Quebec clinical biosensor ecosystem includes several innovative SMEs, including:
- Eli Health: Developing a unique technology that allows tracking of female hormones simply by analyzing the user’s saliva at home without further manipulation or fluid testing.
- Oxynov: has a device for automated titration and weaning of oxygen. It automatically and continuously adapts the flow of oxygen delivered to the patient based on a clinician-defined pulse oxygen saturation (SpO2) goal and the patient’s instantaneous needs. There are only two players in the world having this technology.
- Vitaltracer: Having developed the first medical smartwatch with guaranteed accuracy, including blood pressure and patient data securely stored in hospital clouds. Heathcare smartwatche monitors many vital signals in real time in one device that is great for everyone, including the elderly.
In the Montréal metropolitan area, two Universities offer the bachelor program in biomedical engineering, namely Polytechnique Montréal and McGill University. Masters, certificate and DESS programs are also available in the four Montreal universities for students who have completed the bachelor’s degree:
Polytechnique Montréal was the first institution in Canada to offer the biomedical engineering bachelor’s program. According to the internship and employment service of Polytechnique, the rate of placement of their graduates in 2016 was 100%.
McGill University proposes a number of graduate programs in biomedical engineering to graduate students. It offers a certificate for a training that directs its courses in such a way as to prepare engineers for the development from research to clinical applications and to marketing. A master’s degree in surgical innovation is also available for students.
Affiliated with the CHU Sainte-Justine and Polytechnique Montréal, the TransMedtech Institute allows students and researchers alike to work in a multidisciplinary team. This living lab offers a part of its facilities for research in medical technologies adapted to the needs of patients and clinicians.
The École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS) also offers students graduate programs such as microprograms, a DESS and a master’s degree in healthcare technologies.
For clinical biosensors, Quebec has several institutions:
- INO: National Optics Institute is the most important center of expertise in optics-photonics in Canada and is one of the best technological research centers in the world. For 30 years, she has created and developed innovative and relevant solutions to meet the needs of Quebec and Canadian companies. A world leader in high technology, INO has implemented more than 6,500 solutions, carried out 75 technology transfers and contributed to the creation of 35 new companies, which employ more than 2,000 people. Its innovative solutions support Canadian companies in several key sectors through 4 business units: biomedtech; defense, security and aerospace; sustainable resources, agriculture and infrastructure; advanced manufacturer.
- COPL: The Center for Optics, Photonics and Lasers (COPL) is a strategic group of researchers in optics / photonics from Laval University, École Polytechnique de Montréal, McGill, INRS, École of higher technology, the University of Sherbrooke, the University of Quebec at Montreal and Concordia University who share the following objectives: to train graduate and post-doctoral students who will train the next generation of optics / photonics scientists , carry out fundamental and applied research and contribute to socio-economic development by supporting industry.
- NRC: The Micro-nano bio-analytical devices research group of the Center for Research on Medical Devices develops tests for rapid point-of-care diagnostics, and miniaturized devices combining biosensors and biochips, micro-analysis and microfluidics
In addition to private companies and public institutions, the ecosystem includes a number of impactful organizations that support startups and partnerships in medical technologies. Certain organizations work in the business accelerator sector. This means that they offer support programs for startups or even the innovative ideas. They provide them with mentoring and advice to develop a business model:
- CENTECH, affiliated with the École de Technologie Supérieure (ETS) has offered, since January 2018, a program for young entrepreneurs active in medical technologies. It supports new ideas in medical technologies to break into the market.
- CTS Santé specializes in medical technologies. It provides a supportive framework to startups that already have their business model and helps them to obtain financing for the commercialization of their model.
- District 3 is affiliated with Concordia University and supports innovative ideas until the prototype stage. It forms a network of mentors instrumental in helping this ideas to emerge.
Other impactful medical technology organizations working to bring together industry and public institutions in order to enable research to move more quickly and easily to the development and commercialization stages:
- The Canadian consortium for health technology innovation MEDTEQ helps and supports projects from idea to market. As a RSRI (Industrial Research Sectorial Cluster) and CECR (Center of Excellence in Research Commercialization) and in collaboration with various partners, MEDTEQ offers a complete range of programs designed to help reduce the risks associated with the development and marketing of products. The consortium is counting on the financial support of the Government of Quebec, the Government of Canada, the private sector and complementary partners to foster research-industry relations.
Optech (CCTT): Optech is a collegial center for technology transfer (CCTT), is part of a solid base of expertise in optics in Quebec which is made available to the industry to offer it a technological advantage over its competitors .
In Montréal, health technologies mean
In Quebec, we have a highly developed and effective network of suppliers for medical technologies. It’s possible to create a prototype and even manufacture a finished product from A to Z at very reasonable costs and especially through the geographic proximity of its suppliers and their ability to visit them and make adjustments as needed
Richard Côté, Menodys
Window on several impactful compagnies, researchers and organization that support the ecosystem of health technologies:
- District 3
- Medtech Canada
- CTS Santé
- Institut TransMedtech
- Digital Health Canada
Companies developing clinical biosensors:
- Carl-Éric Aubin
- Frédéric Leblond
- Habib Benali
- Sophie Lerouge
- Caroline Boudoux
- Sylvain Martel
- Louis Collins
- Gilles Soulez
- Jacques DeGuise
École de Technologie Supérieure
- Christine Tardif
- Jean-François Masson
Université de Montréal
- Alexis Vallée-Bélisle
Université de Montréal
- Daniel Thérriault
- Michel Bergeron
- Denis Boudreau
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