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Investing in healthcare innovation

MHA Andrew Parsons (Burgeo – LaPoile). – File photo

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

ST. JOHN’S — On Tuesday, Oct. 31, the Department of Industry, Energy and Technology (IET) announced the $1.5 million investment through research and development funding for three businesses to support health technology and innovation. “Polyamyna Nanotech Inc. is a next generation biotechnology company located in St. John’s that was founded and incorporated in 2017. The company has innovated advanced technologies to battle hospital acquired infections caused mainly by six of the world’s deadliest bacteria pathogens and viruses that have reached pandemic status across the globe. Polyamyna Nanotech is undertaking a research and development project to assess how its antimicrobial coating, Keep Klear, adheres to commonly used surfaces in the health care environment and to discern the effectiveness of the coating in reducing bacterial growth. This research will help gather important data and assist with the growth of the company. The Provincial Government is supporting this business diversification by providing the company with non-repayable funding of $543,537 with the aim of improving patient outcomes. “Incorporated in 2018, BreatheSuite Inc. is designed to provide users with the education and support needed to improve their health outcomes. BreatheSuite’s mission is to help people with respiratory problems by maximizing their lung capacity and mobility by reducing their symptoms and activity limitations through exercise and self-management in turn, keeping their respiratory health condition as stable as possible. To expand their services into the United States, the company proposes the building of a senior-oriented automated exercise program facilitation and tracking tool, plus the facilitation of an internal electronic medical record system to reduce administration time and improve profitability, as they administer and deliver remote pulmonary rehab services to their COPD/asthma client base. To support this business growth, the Provincial Government is providing $521,431 to the company as non-repayable funding. “PolyUnity Tech Inc. is an additive manufacturing company located in St. John’s. The company was founded and incorporated in 2018 by three physicians with a passion for 3D printing and the innovative impact additive manufacturing could have on health care. Over the next 16 months, PolyUnity is undertaking the proposed research and development project to scale its current operations moving from platform and service validation into commercialization and growth. The proposed project sees the company undertaking a series of major activities designed to support the expansion of the i3D.Health platforms’ capabilities and performance, as well as researching new materials and technologies to develop new innovative products for the health care sector. To support this business development effort, the company is receiving non-repayable funding of $449,150 from the Provincial Government. “The Provincial Government offers programs to support research and development projects for both commercial and non-commercial applicants. These programs aim to both realize the commercial potential of innovative products, processes or services and develop and implement research and innovation projects for the long-term economic benefit of Newfoundland and Labrador.” “Supporting health innovation is not just an investment in technology, it’s an investment in the health and well-being of all Newfoundlanders and Labradorians,” said Tom Osborne, Minister of Health and Community Services. “Through innovative research and development, we are able to improve health care delivery and accessibility while guaranteeing positive health outcomes well into the future.” MHA Andrew Parsons (Burgeo – LaPoile), Minister of Industry, Energy and Technology (IET) believes the investment represents a positive move forward. “What we did was we put in about a million and a half dollars in investment into three health tech companies here in Newfoundland and Labrador, which will help them with a number of things, but including research and development. Right now one of the best ways, I think, to improve our healthcare system is to continue to invest in new ways to make tech advances in old different practices. So the one I spoke about last night was PolyUnity, who are doing 3D printing. Then you have Polyamyna, and then you have BreatheSuite,” said Parsons. “We’re blessed with a number of really bright entrepreneurs and professionals who are trying to find better, easier and more effective ways to do health care.” With the healthcare system still struggling across the province and the entire country, Parsons says trying something new is better than continuing on with something that isn’t working. “The reality is we can’t continue to do things the same way we have been. We need to take advantage of technology to make things better for patients. Why would we do things in the 20th century fashion when we have 21st century tech and ideas?” Parsons pointed out. “And not only that, the other side of it is that at the same time it creates economic development, job creation, and other positive spinoffs that benefit not just our system, our healthcare system, but our economy as well.” Given the current rapid pace of technological advancements, healthcare systems may find new solutions to age old problems. “I think when you look at the health tech companies that we have in Newfoundland and Labrador, which is increasingly a big part of our tech focus, it’s going to be a benefit to every aspect of the healthcare system, from frontline to logistics to speed of treatment to ease of treatment to cost, you name it,” said Parsons. “Healthcare is in a sort of a transition stage across the globe. When I’m over on a conference in London and I look at the newspapers and every one of them has healthcare as an issue on the front, you realize it’s a global issue, and some of the challenges that we face, including workforce, well, maybe we try something different here to make it not only easier for the workforce that we have, but just again, make it easier for them to recruit.” This type of technology could significantly improve access to healthcare across the large rural areas. “The way I see it too, from a rural perspective, nothing bothers me more than when we have constituents who have to travel long ways for consultations and treatments and updates,” said Parsons. “Anything we can do to reduce these types of things, but at the same time maintain an appropriate standard of care, is better for everybody.”

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