Research Western

Medical Innovation Fellowships

Background and Summary

Innovation fellowship programs have been developed in the United States to immerse highly talented young scientists, engineers and clinicians in training and research environments that build innovation leaders and create novel medical technologies. Fellows begin in the classroom, learning topics relevant to business and technology commercialization, prior to being immersed in clinics, where they identify market needs. They then develop and prototype solutions by working with researchers, clinicians and technology transfer offices to generate new intellectual property. Alumni of these programs have become leaders in industry, research and health care, and many have formed new companies.

The Western Medical Innovation Fellowship - the first-of-its-kind in Canada - was established in partnership with the University of Minnesota Innovation Fellows program in 2015. Highly qualified individuals are recruited from PhD graduates, medical students and residents. Through its mandate to diversify Canada’s economy and foster an entrepreneurial spirit in a generation of trainees, Western’s BrainsCAN initiative has committed more than $3.5 million to this program. Other Western MIF partners include MITACS and the Western Bone and Joint Institute’s Collaborative Training Program in Musculoskeletal Health Research. Fellows are paid similar to postdoctoral fellows for the 10.5-month program, which consists of the following:

Boot camp (University of Minnesota Medical Devices Center)

  • Five weeks working alongside Minnesota Innovation Fellows in an educational 'boot camp'
  • 100+ speakers (academic researchers, clinicians, industry representatives, venture capitalists) offer training on innovation, prototyping, intellectual property, regulatory affairs, business strategy
  • Valuable networking connections with Minnesota's medical device community and possible project collaborations with Minnesota Innovation Fellows

WORLDiscoveries Week (Western Research Park)

  • Further instruction on policies, procedures, intellectual property and regulatory guidelines in Canada, at Western, Lawson and their research partners
  • Learn how to complete Reports of Innovation, receive training on patent searches and business and market evaluations

Clinical Immersion (London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph's Health Care, and BrainsCAN for cognitive neursocience, only)

  • Three weeks shadowing clinicians in operating rooms, clinics, and imaging suites to identify unmet clinical needs
  • Begin with pre-selected areas of high potential for development, but free to move to any topic you feel could yield an innovation
  • Pre-selected areas for the pilot program include cardiac and orthopaedic imaging and devices
  • As a team, Fellows study and evaluate various projects within each of these areas and select those with the highest commercialization potential
  • Areas of focus will be set on an annual basis and can be expanded based on the number of fellows
  • For MIFs exploring innovations in the area of cognitive neuroscience, BrainsCAN infrastructure and expertise will be made available

Design and Prototyping (across all partner sites)

  • Begin research and development, collaborating with appropriate clinicians and researchers to create new devices and software to meet clinically identified needs
  • Refine ideas, assess potential markets and evaluate capacity for intellectual property, filing a Report of Innovation with WORLDiscoveries for each promising innovation
  • Use existing services and facilities (e.g., at Robarts, Western and Lawson) to design, prototype and test technologies
  • Leverage  connections to the Minnesota program to further refine ideas and evaluate potential international markets

Training and experience fellows receive will serve to de-risk the commercialization/start-up path by equipping them with relevant knowledge, connections to mentors, industry partners and investors, and their having already identified and tested markets for their innovations.

Applying to the Medical Innovation Fellowships Program

For more information regarding the Medical Innovation Fellowships program, please contact:

Souzan Armstrong, PhD, MSc
Director, Business Development, WORLDiscoveries
Telephone: 519-661-3964