PRIME Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday announced Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19, which will create pathways to deploy resources to domestic manufacturers and businesses so they can help during this critical time.
The plan introduces new measures to directly support these businesses to rapidly scale up production or re-tool their manufacturing lines to develop products made in Canada that will help in the fight against COVID-19. These products could include critical health and safety supplies and equipment, including personal protective equipment, sanitization products, diagnostic and testing products, and disease tracking technology.
The Plan builds on the Government of Canada’s more than $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund and the support that has been provided to the health care system since the beginning of the outbreak. It focuses on domestic capacity building, innovative solutions, and procurement of essential supplies. It will:
* Build the industrial capability needed to manufacture critical supplies at scale in Canada. This will be done either by re-tooling the manufacturing lines of existing Canadian businesses or rapidly scaling up the production of others that already produce these products.
* Refocus Canada’s existing industrial and innovation programs, by adding to their mandate a requirement that they prioritize the fight against COVID-19. This includes:
– the Strategic Innovation Fund to deliver direct support to Canadian companies for large-scale projects
– National Research Council of Canada to expedite research and development with small and medium-sized enterprises
– Innovation Superclusters to tap into a national network of 1,800 members, and Innovative Solutions Canada to help companies commercialize products more quickly
* Deliver direct support to key Canadian companies that are working on large-scale and later-stage research and development projects aimed, in the immediate term, at producing countermeasures to COVID-19.
* Challenge innovative companies to develop research-based solutions, technologies, and products that can address a variety of COVID-19 issues.
* Source equipment needed to support Canada’s response to COVID-19 here in Canada. The Government of Canada will use existing supply arrangements and innovative, flexible procurement approaches. It is also reaching out to suppliers to identify and purchase equipment, supplies, and services needed for Canada’s response to COVID-19. With a view to longer-term support, the Government of Canada will ensure procurement flexibility to support innovation and build domestic manufacturing capacity to supply critical health supplies to Canadians.
These measures are part of a larger strategy the Government of Canada is implementing to protect Canadians and prevent the spread of the virus. This strategy prioritizes the health and safety of Canadians, ensures the capacity of the health care system, and mitigates the economic impacts on Canadians and Canadian business.
Trudeau said: “From the very beginning of this outbreak, our priority has been the safety and health of all Canadians. We’re partnering with Canadian industry and business so we can act fast to ensure our health care providers have the products and supplies they need to help Canadians. Together, we are mobilizing all of Canada to fight the spread of the virus.”
Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, added: “I have heard from many companies that are already feeling impacts of this pandemic. Our government is acting quickly to ensure that we are using every possible tool in our toolbox to fight for the health and economic well-being of Canadians and their companies. The initiatives announced today will help strengthen our country’s response to COVID-19 while laying the foundation to protect Canadians into the future.”
- On March 11, the Government of Canada announced a more than $1 billion package to help minimize the health, economic, and social impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, which includes $50 million to help ensure adequate supplies of personal protective equipment for provinces and territories, as well as to address federal needs.
- The Strategic Innovation Fund will allow for rapid support to Canadian companies that are working on large-scale and later-stage promising research and development projects aimed at providing medical countermeasures to COVID-19, including vaccines and critical medical supplies.
- The National Research Council of Canada will organize a COVID-19 Challenge Program, composed of teams of government, academic and private sector partners to address a range of medium term needs of the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada. These include personal protective equipment, sanitization products, diagnostic and testing products, therapeutics, and disease tracking technology.
The Strategic Innovation Fund will allow for rapid support to Canadian companies that are working on large-scale and later-stage promising research and development projects aimed at providing medical countermeasures to COVID-19, including vaccines and critical medical supplies. Key projects have already been identified, and the Government of Canada is working rapidly in collaboration with other programs and departments to identify potential measures for building critical capacity.
The Innovation Superclusters Initiative will prioritize existing funding, and leverage Canada’s five superclusters by mobilizing their networks of over 1,800 members to support the government’s COVID-19 efforts. Project proposals are currently in development, and the government is ensuring that the necessary steps are being taken to allow for more streamlined and timely evaluations, funding, and initiation to support these priority projects.
The Government of Canada will launch specific challenges through the Innovative Solutions Canada program to harness the innovations of Canadian entrepreneurs to meet the immediate needs of the health system. The government will rapidly select the best projects to accelerate development and testing of promising innovations that can have a direct impact on our health care response. The Government of Canada will also use the program to become the first customer of these innovative products.
The National Research Council of Canada (NRC) will organize a COVID-19 Challenge Program, composed of teams of government, academic, and private sector partners, to address a range of medium-term needs of the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada, including personal protective equipment, sanitization products, diagnostic and testing products, therapeutics, and disease tracking technology. The NRC’s Industrial Research Assistance Program will also build on its existing relationships with thousands of Canada’s most innovative small and medium-sized businesses to pose challenges to the marketplace for innovative solutions to address these needs. The most promising solutions will be selected for procurement, working with Innovative Solutions Canada.
The Plan’s procurement strategy will open the government’s innovation programs so that they are able to immediately provide funding to promising projects that can help in the fight against COVID-19. Adjustments and increased procurement flexibility will accelerate Canada’s response to the pandemic.
Working with Canadian Industry
The following Canadian companies have signed letters of intent with the Government of Canada to assist in the government’s response to COVID-19:
- Medicom (Montréal)
- Medicom is a manufacturer and distributor of medical-grade personal protection equipment, including masks and gowns.
- Headquartered in Montreal, Canada, the company has operations on three continents, six manufacturing facilities in the United States, China, Taiwan and Europe. The company has Health Canada and FDA/CDC certification for its facilities in these locations.
- Medicom is considering starting a production line to manufacture N95 masks and surgical masks in Canada.
- Spartan (Ottawa)
- Spartan manufactures precision medicine diagnostic equipment. The company is headquartered in Ottawa.
- It is currently developing an application of its portable device to provide rapid diagnostic results for COVID-19.
- It is in discussions with Health Canada and the U.S. FDA/CDC for approval of its technology to diagnose COVID-19. If successful, its diagnostic platform and COVID-19 test could be used in airports, clinics, and border crossings by individuals with no medical experience. The device could read the test result within 30 minutes. The Government of Canada is working with Spartan to secure Canadian supply of this equipment.
- Thornhill Medical (Toronto)
- Thornhill Medical is medical technology company located in Toronto that manufactures ventilators. It was created as a spin off from the University Health Network.
- It manufactures a portable integrated Intensive Care Unit product that includes a unique, oxygen-conserving ventilator and complete vital signs monitoring in a single, portable battery-operated system.
- Its products have applications in both hospitals and remote locations.
- It is working to supply Canada’s need for this equipment.