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Ten years ago, Carlo Fidani kicked off the creation of a new research institute with a donation that challenged UHN to accelerate the development and integration of technology into healthcare.
Matched with further fundraising from The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation,
the Techna Institute was born.
This gift was critical to launching Techna, and also for setting its initial course: by anticipating the needs of the research hospital of the future, the entrepreneurial philanthropy was able to create an entirely new business model to solve important challenges in healthcare.
Techna has become a new kind of incubator, a technology incubator, providing the engineering, software development, project management and regulatory expertise needed to develop technologies to the point where they can be integrated into clinical care.
To support the demand, the Techna Technology Development Team has grown exponentially, roughly doubling each year from the original three members until reaching its current size of 50.
"We have created a pool of professionals who are available to the community to lead, manage and carry out work in health technology productization," says Dr. Luke Brzozowski, Senior Director, Techna and Diagnostics Innovation. "Because of Techna, UHN is equipped to rapidly advance health technology without having to hire the people for each project in isolation and without having to acquire or develop the skills which may only be needed for a portion of the project."
The Techna team provides services regardless of who owns the technology. The team has worked with start-ups, multinational firms and technologies that are fully from within UHN.
Its successes over the years include work with:
"We've had several remarkable programs and projects in UHN's Sprott Department of Surgery in partnership with Techna," says Dr. Shaf Keshavjee, UHN Surgeon-in-Chief. "Techna is a technology accelerator that enables our success in transforming innovative ideas into practice as demonstrated in our initiatives such as
Telemonitoring, Surgility, the Surgical Wait Information Management System (SWIMS) and the drone delivery of organs for transplant."
Dr. Bradly Wouters, UHN's EVP Science & Research and Techna's Interim Director, says "Techna was UHN's first research institute that wasn't tied solely to one of the UHN member hospitals, and that helped us focus on the impact our research and technology development expertise could have on UHN and healthcare more broadly."
Techna has helped strengthen connections between clinicians, scientists and engineers, and through that accelerate the adoption of innovative solutions into clinical practice, he says.
"Techna's approach has already made progress toward solving clinical needs and technology challenges, and their agility was very helpful during the challenges presented by the pandemic," Dr. Wouters says. "I'm excited to see how Techna helps UHN advance technology over the next 10 years!"