City’s Tech Sector Pivots to Tackle Covid-19


Life in Canada changed over night last week when measures to combat the Covid-19 virus began coming into effect across the board. This impacts every one of us, every citizen as well as all of our families and friends.

Already innovators and researchers have begun to pivot their work and find new applications for their solutions in order to address the spread of Covid-19. One of the first to react was MEDTEQ, which back on March 16 put out a call to its members and the medical technology and health industries in general, to send them their innovative technological solutions and ideas to respond to this threat in the short and medium term, but also to help ensure economic recovery.

“We’re acting as a facilitator” Diane Côté, CEO at MEDTEQ tells MTLinTechnology. She explained that her team is coordinating with the ministries of health and economic development at both levels of government in order to identify and deploy solutions that could be helpful in combating Covid-19. It turns out there’s actually a fair amount that can be done over the medium to long term.

“There’s combinations of initiatives and solutions available with responses coming from members and non members alike. The full medical technology spectrum is represented. Including technical or clinical challenges, accelerating queries from the population, access to the system, logistics, telehealth and mobilizing staff.”

They’ve received about 75 solutions in just 4 days. And with government officials tied up managing the crisis, the team at MEDTEQ is putting forward specific technologies as solutions that can increase efficiency, safety and access to care. Some can be deployed in 1-3 months, while others will take longer. One solution which can be deployed in weeks is a logistics tool which can help hospitals manage their flow of patients, as well as clinical resources within a hospital.

Côté continues to encourage anyone with potential solutions to get in touch with them either through the form on their website or via email at covid-19@medteq.ca. “We’re extremely pleased to see the positive response of the field and we very much look forward to continuing to be a major pipeline for sharing information on elements that could be of service to all.”

Meanwhile, a Quebec research team has received the green light from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to test a device that will shorten the response time of the COVID-19 screening test. “In a few minutes, the instrument could indicate whether the sample contains antibodies to the coronavirus, an operation which currently takes several hours,” Jean-François Masson, professor in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Montreal said in a statement.

A specialist in biomedical instrumentation, Professor Masson works in collaboration with his colleague Joelle Pelletier in a team led by Denis Boudreau, professor of chemistry at Laval University. A Chinese colleague, Qing Huang, who once worked on detection of the Ebola virus, is also part of the team.

The total grant is $1 million over two years. A dozen students and postdoctoral researchers will participate in the research as well. The researchers were allowed to continue their activities related to COVID-19 during the closure of the laboratories at the University of Montreal, which will be conducted in accordance with the rules of distancing defined by the government.

While current devices must rely on DNA analysis of the virus genome, which must be taken from the patient’s larynx, this system would attempt to detect the patient’s antibodies.

 

Montreal in Technology has always believed strongly in community. Now in these extraordinary times, we want to continue to tell stories of how the tech and research communities are coming together to support others or find innovative ways to save lives during this unprecedented crisis. Please continue to reach out to us with these stories.

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