TORONTO, August 18, 2017 – MaRS Health is seeking participants for the second cohort in its Procurement by Co-Design program.

Unlike current traditional procurement practices, the program—a partnership between MaRS Discovery District and the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services—enables healthcare organizations and technology innovators to work together to develop, test and evaluate solutions before bringing them into healthcare settings.

Selected teams will receive guidance and support from MaRS including upfront funding for their commitment to the co-design approach. These teams will compete for an additional grant up to $50,000 to help launch their solution.

Prospective participants are invited to join in an introductory workshop on September 28, 2017 at MaRS. All Ontario healthcare providers and technology and service vendors are welcome to attend. To request an invite to the event, please contact: designchallenge@marsdd.com.

“In public-sector organizations, internal policies and practices often enforce a low tolerance for risk,” said Jerry Koh, director of systems innovation, MaRS Solutions Lab. “Purchasers often make restrictive assumptions about what is allowed under the Broader Public Sector (BPS) Procurement Directive. This has hindered the uptake of health innovations, especially solutions from small- to medium-size enterprises. The gap has widened between those who are experiencing challenges in delivering care to patients and those who have the capabilities and skills to develop solutions to those problems.”

“Several organizations told us there were no existing solutions to solve some of their challenges,” said Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “They wanted to be innovative, but did not know where to start. The MaRS Co-Design program, funded through the Government’s OntarioBuys program, allows them to learn about and test a unique approach to procurement. The Co-Design program provides structure, tools and guidance to address challenges, while following a fair, open and transparent procurement process.”

During the first cohort, 20 teams of healthcare providers and vendors worked collaboratively to address challenges such as physician onboarding, predicting which patients would become emergency room “frequent flyers” and managing critical hospital assets.

“Many homecare providers have their hands full dealing with the ever changing requirements of their funders, often being in a more reactive mode with their technology solutions,” said Adrian Schauer, founder and CEO of Alayacare. “Fundamental technology innovations like machine learning and optimization have the ability to transform the delivery of home healthcare. By co-designing solutions in a partnership mode, software providers and healthcare providers can develop better solutions with a deeper understanding of the challenges that staff face on a day to day basis.”

“Before we started the program, our management team talked a lot about improving the day-to-day workflow of our staff,” said Debby Riepert, chief operating officer, Trinity Village. “When we engaged our personal support workers and nurses in the co-design process we realized we needed to entirely rethink the way information is used, documented and shared so they could spend more time with our residents. We would not have uncovered this if we had followed the traditional request-for-proposal process.”

“For healthcare service providers, empowering staff to become innovation partners was the most valuable takeaway from the program,” said Koh. “Co-designing the purchasing process also creates new partnerships between innovators and healthcare organizations. This a great step forward in transforming our health system and economy.”

To request an invite to the event, please contact: designchallenge@marsdd.com.
Learn more about the Procurement by Co-Design program.

About MaRS Discovery District
MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) in Toronto is one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs. Our purpose is to help innovators change the world. MaRS supports promising ventures tackling key challenges in the health, cleantech, finance and commerce, and work and learning sectors, as they start, grow and scale. In addition, the MaRS community fosters cross-disciplinary collaboration to drive breakthrough discoveries and new solutions to be adopted in Canada and beyond, growing our economy and delivering societal impact at scale.

About the Innovation Partnership: Procurement by Co-Design program at MaRS
A partnership between MaRS Discovery District and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, the initiative offers healthcare service providers the opportunity to participate in the development of technology tailor-made to address the particular problems they face while complying with the Broader Public Sector (BPS) Procurement Directive. This project is funded in full by the OntarioBuys program. OntarioBuys makes investments to support innovation and to facilitate and accelerate the adoption of integrated supply chain, back-office leading practices and operational excellence by driving collaboration and improving supply chain processes in Ontario’s broader public sector.