Press Releases

Techna Institute to lead University Health Network’s collaboration with INO, agreement signed

(TORONTO, Canada – Nov. 23, 2011) – The new Techna Institute at University Health Network (UHN) has signed its first agreement with INO of Quebec City and Hamilton.

Techna Institute, launched Nov. 9 in partnership with theUniversityofToronto, is an innovation hub poised to integrate and fast track research, development, and commercialization of new healthcare technologies.

INO is a world-class Canadian centre of expertise in optics and photonics that assists companies in improving their competitive edge and developing their business. INO has executed more than 4,500 R&D contracts in optics and photonics in its 23-year history, spun out 27 companies – all still operational –, and carried out 43 technology transfers. Over the past 15 years INO has been developing innovative biomedical optics solutions for industry, more recently in concert with UHN. The success of this collaboration was a key factor in INO’s decision to expand intoOntarioin 2009 — allowing it to tap into the unique medical ecosystem ofToronto’s Discovery District.

Techna – formally The Techna Institute for the Advancement of Technology for Health – will lead the UHN collaboration with INO. As detailed in the agreement, initial projects will include optical dosimetery, non-linear optical endoscopy, and bioluminescence CT imaging. The scope of the collaboration naturally falls into Techna’s Photonics Core, led by Brian Wilson, Senior Scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute and a Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics, at theUniversityofToronto.

As a part of the agreement, INO will provide an in-kind contribution of up to $2.5M over a five-year period including developmental, prototyping, and preproduction activities in biomedical optics; as well as assistance in business development and program management activities in the field of biomedical optics.

Techna/UHN will provide INO with access to clinicians and clinical trial capability and a 400-square-foot laboratory space in theBantingBuildingat theUniversityofToronto– Techna’s headquarters.

“We are thrilled with this partnership which builds on our positive experiences with INO for greater success.” says Techna Director David Jaffray, UHN Head of Radiation Physics and a Senior Scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute, the research arm of the health network’s Princess Margaret Cancer Program. Dr. Jaffray is also a Professor of Radiation Oncology and Medical Biophysics at U of T and holds the Orey and Mary Fidani Family Chair in Radiation Physics atPrincessMargaretHospital. “Our efforts to accelerate the translation of clinically-driven inventions into clinic will tremendously benefit form INO’s professional level development and prototyping services, facilities, and expertise. We are determined to make it a very fruitful relationship.”

Marcia Vernon, Manager for INO-Ontario, says:  “It is a perfect arrangement. Techna will provide the framework through which our joint innovations will reach patients and change clinical practice. We look forward to joint development and commercialization.” Dr. Vernon, who is leading INO’s first geographical expansion, states that “this collaboration is a key pillar in our strategy for Ontario”.

About Techna Institute
Techna is an institute of the University Health Network, in partnership with the University of Toronto, focused on the accelerated development and exploitation of technology for improved health. The Techna Institute is designed to shorten the time interval from technology discovery and development to application for the benefit of patients and the health care system. It will also stimulate and facilitate the innovation cycle through a continuum of clinically-driven innovation, technology & process development, and translational research. www.technainstitute.com

About INO
A leading technology designer and developer, INO is Canada’s largest center for industrial optics and photonics expertise. It is an international leader in its field, having completed over 4,500 R&D contracts to date for Canadian companies across a wide variety of fields. INO has performed 43 technology transfers, and created 27 new high-tech startups. It boasts more than 200 employees, most of them researchers, scientists, and technicians who contribute to INO’s international reputation INO is a private, not-for-profit contract R&D company founded in 1985 by the Canadian and Quebec provincial governments. 

About University Health Network
University Health Network consists of Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals, and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. University Health Network is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto.  www.uhn.ca 

About the University of Toronto
Established in 1827, the University of Toronto has assembled one of the strongest research and teaching faculties in North America, presenting top students at all levels with an intellectual environment unmatched in breadth and depth on any other Canadian campus. U of T faculty co-author more research articles than their colleagues at any university in the US or Canada other than Harvard. As a measure of impact, U of T consistently ranks alongside the top five U.S. universities whose discoveries are most often cited by other researchers around the world.  The U of T faculty are also widely recognized for their teaching strengths and commitment to graduate supervision.   

Media contacts:
Jane Finlayson, Public Affairs & Communications, University Health Network
(416) 946-2846 jane.finlayson@uhn.on.ca
Jim Oldfield, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
(416) 946-8423 jim.oldfield@utoronto.ca


UHN, U of T launch Techna innovation hub to get health technologies to patients faster

(TORONTO, Canada – Nov. 9, 2011) – The Techna Institute, an innovation hub poised to integrate and fast track research, development and commercialization of new healthcare technologies, launches today at University Health Network (UHN) and the University of Toronto (U of T).

Dr. Christopher Paige, VP, Research at UHN says: “Techna is a fresh way of thinking about research and development. Technological innovation holds the key to understanding many diseases and Techna provides the platform for excellence where scientists, clinicians, engineers, entrepreneurs and industry can combine their skills to save lives all over the world.”

The new institute – formally The Techna Institute for the Advancement of Technology for Health – is housed in the old Banting building at U of T, 100 College St., across the street from the MaRs complex – a symbolic location that epitomizes the very heart of Canadian world “firsts” in healthcare research and innovation in Toronto’s Discovery District.

Dr. Catherine Whiteside, Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Vice Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions at U of T, says: “Techna will provide an environment for faculty and students in clinical, biomedical and bioengineering fields to work collaboratively to create biotechnical solutions for diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. The clinical and graduate departments involved in Techna will design new teaching and learning opportunities to prepare the next generation of biotechnology innovators.”

The Techna team will cross traditional silos to take research on developing technologies for improving health into the clinic as quickly as possible,” says Director David Jaffray, UHN Head of Radiation Physics and a Senior Scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute, the research arm of the health network’s Princess Margaret Cancer Program. Dr. Jaffray is also a Professor of Radiation Oncology and Medical Biophysics at U of T and holds the Orey and Mary Fidani Family Chair in Radiation Physics at Princess Margaret Hospital.

The Techna mandate to focus specifically on healthcare technologies is designed to ensure that rapidly advancing technology already used in other sectors is integrated as quickly as possible into disease management and healthcare delivery, says Dr. Jaffray. “Techna provides a process and framework to help innovation reach the patient.”

Dr. Jaffray cites two examples of healthcare technologies currently being tested in clinical research: a “GPS” system for surgeons that integrates real-time data in three-dimensional images for greater precision while operating; and software for mobile applications to help patients, such as diabetics, track and manage their own health data.

Start-up funding of $10 million was initiated by a $5 million “challenge” donation to The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation from Toronto-area philanthropist Carlo Fidani, who has a long-standing interest in building unique environments for collaboration and innovation. Another donor has provided a further $1 million, and the Foundation is committed to raising the rest.

“Thanks to Mr. Fidani and the Foundation, we can now accelerate advances in other diseases, just as we have done in cancer,” says Dr. Jaffray, a renowned innovator and leader in the development of image-guided radiation therapy who also pioneered the development of Cone Beam CT for radiation planning and treatment, now used worldwide.

About University Health Network
University Health Network consists of Toronto General, Toronto Western and Princess Margaret Hospitals, and Toronto Rehabilitation Institute. The scope of research and complexity of cases at University Health Network has made it a national and international source for discovery, education and patient care. It has the largest hospital-based research program in Canada, with major research in cardiology, transplantation, neurosciences, oncology, surgical innovation, infectious diseases, genomic medicine and rehabilitation medicine. University Health Network is a research hospital affiliated with the University of Toronto. www.uhn.ca

About the University of Toronto
Established in 1827, the University of Toronto has assembled one of the strongest research and teaching faculties in North America, presenting top students at all levels with an intellectual environment unmatched in breadth and depth on any other Canadian campus. U of T faculty co-author more research articles than their colleagues at any university in the US or Canada other than Harvard. As a measure of impact, U of T consistently ranks alongside the top five U.S. universities whose discoveries are most often cited by other researchers around the world.  The U of T faculty are also widely recognized for their teaching strengths and commitment to graduate supervision.

Media contacts:
Jane Finlayson, Public Affairs & Communications, University Health Network
(416) 946-2846 jane.finlayson@uhn.on.ca
Jim Oldfield, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
(416) 946-8423 jim.oldfield@utoronto.ca
Kevin Shea, The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation
(416) 946-2898 kevin.shea@pmhf.ca