Kingston receives $3M to promote innovation in local health sector

The city of Kingston has received funding from the federal government to help support health innovation in Kingston's business sector. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

The federal government has pledged millions of dollars to help the city foster innovative ideas, and create jobs in Kingston’s health sector.

Tuesday, Kate Young, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, announced $3 million for the city of Kingston, funding that will be distributed to Queen’s University and St. Lawrence college, GreenCentre Canada, Kingston Health Sciences Centre and Kingston Economic Development Corporation to create “health innovation ecosystem” in the city.

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The money is meant to facilitate these local institutions to bolster start-ups and to help small health-related businesses thrive in the city.

The funding could bring 100 jobs to the city and support growth of 37 small businesses and start-ups in the city, although Craig Desjardins, director of strategy, innovation and partnerships for the city of Kingston, said none of those jobs are not secured for the region.

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That number is an estimate that “would result from the creation of new companies and the growth of existing companies in the health innovation space” he said.

According to Troy Beharry, the city’s partnerships and grant development analyst, the money will also create a small number of new jobs with the municipality, local post-secondary institutions and KHSC to provide support to start-ups and local small businesses.

“However, the primary goal of the health innovation ecosystem is to create an environment that supports the creation of new companies, grows existing businesses and attracts new businesses in the health sector that will, in turn, employ individuals,” Beharry said.

Young said the city was chosen for the federal grant because of its proximity to the United States, and due to its existing health infrastructure.

“The city is home to three top post-secondary institutions and for state-of-the-art health-care facilities that boast experienced specialists and world renowned researchers, COVID-19 has highlighted the critical importance of keeping Canada at the cutting edge of health technology,” she said.

According to the city, three local labs will be leveraged through Queen’s University and GreenCentre Canada to provide entrepreneurs and business-owners experience in areas ranging from artificial intelligence to robotics and chemistry.

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Small businesses will also get opportunities to test new products, services and processes at Kingston Health Sciences Centre.

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With the new funding, Queen’s University will be offering support to local start-ups through a new “health-focused catalyst” program, along with offering mentoring to existing businesses.

Money will also be allocated to Kingston Economic Development Corporation for “business and investment attraction activities,” which will include the expansion of the highway leading to the Thousand Islands Bridge, which connects upstate New York to Ontario. This is meant to help local businesses access markets in the U.S. and attract foreign investment to the region.

“As we have seen with the rapid developments of vaccines for COVID-19, collaboration and innovation are resulting in new medical solutions at a pace never seen before. We want to unlock the potential of Canadian innovation right here in Kingston and help companies to bring their solutions to the world,” Young said.

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