Toronto (Nov. 22, 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 the University of Toronto, is an innovation hub poised to integrate and fast track research, development, and commercialization of new health care 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 into Ontario in 2009 — allowing it to tap into the unique medical ecosystem of Toronto’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 the University of Toronto.

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 the Banting Building at the University of Toronto – 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 at Princess Margaret Hospital. “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 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 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.

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.

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.

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