Officials in New Brunswick are hoping the new Health and Technology District Saint John will be come a leader in digital health across the country.
The district is the result of a partnership between the University of New Brunswick, Opportunities New Brunswick and The Lark Group, a community development organization.
The partners say they want the district located at Tucker Park because UNB Saint John, Dalhousie Medical School New Brunswick and the Saint John Regional Hospital are all in close proximity.
Dr. Petra Hauf, UNB Saint John’s vice-president, said Health and Technology District Saint John will bring clinicians, doctors, educators, students and industry together in a common space to create innovative health solutions.
“To connect the talent pipeline with the industry,” Hauf began, speaking as part of a virtual forum. “To have students early on combined with job shadowing, with lecture series, with co-op opportunities, with internships to connect with the industry and stay here and provide this talent pipeline for our community.”
Hauf said the first phase will take place over the next couple of years. The initial goal is to attract 50 new businesses and 1,000 jobs, adding $50 million to the local economy.
Opportunities New Brunswick Minister Arlene Dunn, also an MLA in Saint John, said it could launch 100 new businesses and 3,500 jobs upon completion.
The district is modelled after a similar setup in Surrey, B.C.
“We’re about 50 per cent on our way to our overall goal,” said spokesperson Ryan D’Arcy of Health Tech Connex, “which is to have a million-and-a-half square feet of health and technology innovation space, about 15,000 high-quality, high-tech jobs and contributing into the economy 1.1 billion (dollars) annually.”
Envision Saint John CEO Paulette Hicks said the district can help the economic development agency achieve its 10-year population growth strategy.
“We would view this initiative as transformational,” Hicks said.
Hauf said more conversations are planned with stakeholders and industry to identify priorities for the initiative.