Health & Life Sciences
Trade Accelerator Program

TAP’s Been “Healthified” – Everything You Need to Know

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Luke Smith
September 17, 2019

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TAP Edmonton Q&A with Health City

To help local health companies grow globally, Edmonton Economic Development, the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, and Health City are partnering to bring a custom “healthified” version of the nationally successful Trade Accelerator Program (TAP). Kicking off on October 31, our export and health sector experts will address the specific questions and challenges related to expanding abroad in this industry.

We chatted with Reg Joseph, CEO Health City, and Chris Carvalho, Co-Lead Health City Working Groups, about this opportunity.

For the unfamiliar, can you tell us what Health City is?

Reg - Health City is a non-profit, economic development initiative created to catalyze the new health economy leveraging Edmonton strengths for local, national and global impact. Health City works with innovators to scale solutions that drive health sector transformation with global relevance; adopting them for impact in Edmonton and scaling them for export to global markets.

For more information, visit www.edmontonhealthcity.ca.

Why is Health City partnering with EEDC and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce to bring a health-focused TAP cohort?

Chris – The original idea started when the Health City Working Groups were taking a look at local programs in the ecosystem that we could support. TAP was already being delivered by EEDC and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and had significant stakeholders at the table with knowledge in key areas like legal, finance, export and entrepreneurship, but it was missing some specific areas that are key to the health sector. The Working Group thought it would be good way to leverage this already established program and customize or “healthify” it to be more applicable to health companies and their success.

Reg – Rather than creating something new, the Working Group preferred to leverage a successful program with all the key components, with added health aspects to be meaningful local companies from the health sector. EEDC and the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce have been great partners in their willingness to work with the Health City Working Groups. They recognized that health is a growth sector in this region and so this was a perfect collaboration which we were able to turn around in just a few weeks.

What can companies expect from TAP 194 Health?

Chris - Companies can expect the same general overview of the key areas they’d need to put together their export plan, but with more content specific to the health sector, for example: how to best partner with health industry companies in other countries and ensuring they understand the regulatory and reimbursement requirements to market in those jurisdictions. The program will also bring in experts from industry who have knowledge and experience specifically in the health sector. Companies will also be able to network and connect with 15 other local companies.

Reg – Most importantly, for any company to be successful, regardless of sector, all companies must be thinking globally from the beginning, and this program gets them developing business plans for global markets immediately.

How would you describe the health and life sciences innovation ecosystem in Edmonton?

Reg – Our region is built on strong foundation of research. The industry is very young and rapidly evolving and certain areas such as digital health are emerging with global recognition. The health sector is going through a transformation globally. We are seeing the emergence of technologies and platforms like Artificial Intelligence, Augmented & Virtual Reality, Internet of Things, that are becoming the next tools of innovation in the health sector. We have companies right here in Edmonton that specifically have those strengths, so it’s a great opportunity for our companies to be the disruptors and take locally developed and validated solutions to global markets.

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"There are a lot of successes that are happening in Edmonton...we want to help kickstart even more of those stories."

Why should companies consider growing beyond Edmonton?

Reg – The Alberta market is small, and globally the Canadian market is only about two per cent. To be relevant, our companies must enter and thrive in global markets. From a healthcare perspective, Canada is seen as a shining star and the challenges we are addressing in Canada are many of the same challenges found around the world.

Chris – It is difficult for a health company to get started here because the Canadian procurement systems require validation from existing customers which can be difficult for young startups. One way for a company to access the Canadian marketplace is to think globally first, which then gives them the customer base and validation to allow them to come back and sell and be supported here. As well, other companies from other jurisdictions think globally first – our companies here need to think that way as well to remain competitive.

What are some health and innovation export success stories that have emerged from Edmonton?

Chris – There are a lot of successes that are happening in Edmonton, but they can often fly under the radar. For instance, IMBiotechnologies, Nanospeed Diagnostics, Entos Pharmaceuticals, and RunWithIt Synthetics are just a few examples of companies with some amazing products that are finding customers all over the globe already. We want to help kickstart even more of those stories.

What are some high-potential priority markets that Edmonton health companies should be targeting?

Reg – Emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, Blockchain, and Internet of Things have enormous potential to transform the health sector and build a niche for our region in the global marketplace.

Geographically, high growth markets for our industry can be found in Asia, the United States, and in Africa.

How can Health City & TAP help them to reach those markets and their growth potential?

Chris – Health City brings our partnerships and networks, plus we bring an understanding of industry trends, local players that have support and funding, and we understand what global partners are looking for.

TAP gives the companies the push to start thinking globally and guide them in how to do it.

Interested in starting your export journey? Sign-up while you still can and tap into your global potential!

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