A task force says Edmonton is ready to take the next step in establishing itself as a “health city.”
The concept for turning Edmonton into a health innovation centre of excellence was announced during Mayor Don Iveson’s State of the City address in 2016.
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An interim report released Thursday at the mayor’s Health City initiative at the Shaw Conference Centre, recommends the creation of a Health Innovation Council, that is similar to the Health Quality Council, whose goal would be to increase the number of health technology companies relocating, staying or doing business in Edmonton.
A way to do that is to bring everyone with a vested interest to the same table, according to Mayor Don Iveson. Government and industry have done that in the past year.
“It’s critical that we have a great relationship with the province, which has an opportunity to be the first consumer of health innovation that comes from our community here.”
The provincial government reportedly has a chance to have Alberta Health Services and the ministry learn from what industry is finding out from working in Edmonton with a potential of 4 million patients.
“That’s actually quite unique in North America,” Iveson said. “So there’s a competitive advantage for us around health data and analytics that the government is also interested in leveraging in order to bend the cost curve down and support innovation and attract investment from bio and pharma companies that are interested in doing research for real world evidence here in Alberta.”
The strategy proposes the creation of tax incentives for entrepreneurs to engage in health innovation and to work with both Alberta Health and AHS.
A total of 70 representatives from government, the University of Alberta, Telus, IBM, DynaLIFE and others participated in the working groups.
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The steering group, which was led by Dr. Jodi Abbott of NorQuest College, recommended the creation of a board made up of government, post-secondary, health care delivery and business leaders, plus a smaller executive secretariat to oversee some test projects.
“This really is looking at all of the established assets we have, the talent we have and bringing it to the forefront so that we lead,” Abbott said.
“#yegHealthCity is about building on our strengths as a city and taking real, meaningful steps to diversify our economy”-Mayor @doniveson pic.twitter上海龙凤419/CfqQQ2MJIk
— Edm Mayor Office (@YEGMayorOffice) June 15, 2017
The working group also recommended Health City should be a brand Edmonton pursues to gain international recognition in health technology innovation. The first crack at that will be in July when a delegation from Health City will be led by economic development minister Deron Bilous June 16 to 23 to San Diego and a conference to help drum up business.
“There will be some tangible results from the visit, but we’ll report on those once they’re solid,” Iveson said.
DynaLIFE CEO Jason Pincock compared health innovation to the oilsands for economic potential. Abbott agreed when asked if we’ll all get rich because of this.
“I sure hope so,” she said. “That’s our plan to ensure we have strong economic development in the health care sector.”