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Waterloo’s health innovation ecosystem creates global impact

Waterloo's rich health innovation ecosystem is supported by strong tech and manufacturing clusters and a culture of collaboration.

A global pandemic has gripped the business world for the last two years, and no industry remains unscathed. Unprecedented challenges and seismic changes have forced business leaders in every sector to pivot, adapt and evolve.

Arguably, no sector more so than the health sector.

For the past two years, the health sector has navigated change, challenge and uncertainty, fueling the immediate need for healthcare innovation. Individuals and companies working in the health innovation industry stepped in – and stepped up. Throughout the pandemic, the rapid healthcare innovations that emerged saved lives and lessened the pandemic’s global impact.

Health innovation is defined as the process of developing new or improved health policies, systems, technologies, products, services and delivery methods that improve people’s health, often with a specific focus on the needs of vulnerable populations.

As a result, the health innovation industry intersects both the tech and manufacturing sectors. Because of this intersection, a rich health innovation ecosystem often exists in a community that excels at both tech and manufacturing, and a place where collaboration is ingrained in the culture. A place like Waterloo.

On one hand, Waterloo is Canada’s most dynamic tech ecosystem, with 500+ startups, four unicorn companies and an impressive roster of major tech multinationals, like Google, SAP and BlackBerry. On the other, manufacturing is the foundation and backbone of our local economy. We have 1,400+ manufacturing companies located in Waterloo – the largest robotics and automation cluster in Canada – supported by a highly skilled manufacturing workforce and several partnering research institutes.

In Waterloo, tech and manufacturing collide – and collaborate – to fuel health innovation in fields such as biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, imaging hardware and software, digital health, medical equipment manufacturing and more. Our health innovation ecosystem contains over 100 companies.

Commercialization hubs like the Medical Innovation Xchange (MIX), Waterloo MedTech, the Accelerator Centre and the Health Innovation Arena –an innovation centre launching in 2023 for new and growing health tech companies – also play a role in local health innovation by providing companies with the resources, talent and support they need to succeed.

Thanks to Waterloo’s health innovation ecosystem, local companies like The Canadian Shield, Rapid Novor, Intellijoint Surgical and Huron Digital Pathology continue to adapt and evolve, saving lives and making a difference across the country with their health innovation efforts.

The global pandemic may have accelerated health innovation in Waterloo, but the industry shows no sign of slowing down now.