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‘The art of the possible’: 1st step to make Vaughan Health-Care Centre Precinct is taken

The collaboration is said to spur local innovation in health-care products to start exporting globally
Oct. 11, 2019
Dina Al-Shibeeb

Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua reiterated on Oct. 2 his motto, “the art of the possible,” when he and local partners signed a memorandum of understanding to bring forth Vaughan Health-Care Centre Precinct.

The memorandum is signed between the City of Vaughan, York University, Mackenzie Health and VentureLAB in hopes of innovating health-care products and “exporting” it far beyond Canada globally by making use of local resources and talent.

To make that happen, an 82-acre parcel of land at Jane Street and Major Mackenzie Drive will be the location of the precinct where technology and innovation take a central seat.

“Parcels of land dedicated to a hospital precinct, there aren’t that many,” Bevilacqua told reporters.

“When you are given this parcel of land, what can you achieve? What’s the best result you can draw?”

Melissa Chee from the Markham-based local tech incubator VentureLAB is looking forward to “leveraging technology” to reduce hallway medicine but also to spur local innovation with a “global impact.”

Chee reminded the audience that York Region is a “hotbed” for growth as it has about 4,300 tech companies, bringing with it 600,000 jobs.

On top of that, she also boasted about VentureLAB’s 45 tech companies and partners that “employ 300 people.”

All of these tech arsenals could be used to create “globally disruptive products” in health care, she added.

“We are well aware of the challenges that our health-care system faces where Ontario ranks poorly on critical factors such as wait times, quality care system integration in comparison to our provincial counterparts.”
But if compared to communities around the world, “we have the opportunity to truly lead, create, and deliver an environment by offering our citizens globally-leading health care in one of this country’s most diverse communities.”

Bevilacqua, too, said the precinct won’t be focusing on Vaughan itself, but it has a “much broader vision,” making inventions with “global appeal.”

“We know that we live in a very privileged area. This area is doing exceptionally well,” he said.

Chee said VentureLAB has “supported more than 350 health companies that are creating products and solutions to solve health-care challenges faced by hospitals and health-care providers and parents.”

York University president and vice-chancellor Rhonda Lenton praised this “multi-sector collaboration,” and said, “We look forward to contributing our expertise for the Vaughan health precinct.”

“Health is one of York’s fast-growing areas of study, research and community. We have 10,000 students in health and health science programs.”

This collaboration could “increase the exponential learning opportunities” for York University’s students, but will also embolden the institutes’ research projects to improve local communities’ overall health especially when it comes to “preventive medicine,” which will be the main focus.

Mark Falbo, chair of the board at Mackenzie Health, said his agency is “very proud” to be part of this collaboration “to take advantage of the opportunities and opening the first new hospital in York Region in 30 years.”

“The unique perspectives represented by each great partner… will define the possibilities” surrounding Vaughan’s new hospital, emphasizing how technology is taking a central role.

“We are looking to collaborate with the teams to build innovative technologies, processes to really export throughout the hospital and health sector and indeed beyond York Region and Canada to global markets.”

The details of the new place will be unleashed following a feasibility study and once the Mackenzie Health Hospital is fully complete in 2020.

Despite the initial steps of the move, the mayor wasn’t shy from proposing a medical school in the heart of Vaughan too.