Why Tech ❤ ‘s Ottawa The Story of CV Diagnostix
“Canada is blessed with not only impressive venture capital providers, but also extensive public funding programs for research and development.”
The Start of a Startup
In 2015, a U.S. based company — AusculSciences Inc. — committed itself to producing a non-invasive medical device based on its earlier work in CAD detection. The device had already obtained Food and Drug Administration approval and had undergone clinical trials, but the company wanted to lean on outside expertise to develop a ‘commercialized’ version of the device, which family doctors could use to diagnose patients. This decision created the foundation of CVD and gathered together a team with the requisite experience, and technical and scientific expertise to bring the device to market.
Location: At ‘The Heart of It All’
Deciding where to locate a new tech business is one of the most critical decisions stakeholders can make. We needed to consider whether a proposed locale would be appropriate to the nature of our business, whether it has adequate ‘infrastructure’ for current and future needs, and whether it can draw in the right talent to support an entrepreneurial culture.
For CVD, we also had to consider what institutions were in the vicinity to support our research. The primary consideration had to be accessibility to a fully capable cardiac research facility and the availability of a patient population to provide insight into CAD.
Ottawa: The Capital Choice
Early on, the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) was identified as the institution best suited to CVD’s needs. It is ranked as a ‘world-class’ cardiac research institute and has a mandate to support and foster developments in cardiovascular sciences and methodologies for improved patient outcomes. They had the facilities, capabilities, talent and patient population needed to conduct and guide the necessary investigation we were looking for. The UOHI made it clear, however, that they would only undertake a project that had significant potential to be medically efficacious. After extensive negotiation and vetting by the UOHI staff, we were thrilled when they agreed to undertake our research project!
After achieving the research agreement with UOHI, we decided to locate the development team in Ottawa to be close to the centre of our study. The city also boasts an availability of talent, bustling infrastructure and an entrepreneurial culture. It was a simple decision.
Further, Ottawa offered our budding health tech business various resources and advantages, which we didn’t feel we could get elsewhere. These included:
- Governmental Support: At the beginning, we turned to Invest Ottawa, which provided not only an address and a place to have a desk but also introductions to business contacts to help us set down roots in the region and get our operations going.
- Workforce Solutions: We recognized that to attract appropriate talent, we needed to offer not only a competitive base salary but also a well-considered benefits package. We were fortunate to get guidance in this area from Adecco and other financial consultants who helped us structure a highly attractive benefits package, and manage the recruitment of key technical staff. This allowed us to build up our essential team rapidly, even before finding and moving to our permanent space.
- Attractive Real Estate: Locating proper office space and managing the negotiations can be a challenge when it is happening coincident with building a team and establishing business goals. We worked with a local commercial real estate agency who found us an ideal location in Kanata — the largest high-tech concentration in Canada. It serves as the best setting for attracting the level of talent we need and provides a foundation for our expansion plans.
- Skilled Personnel: In the medical devices realm, companies are obligated to comply with ISO Quality Management Systems requirements. This is a non-trivial matter and demands implementation of sound practices throughout the organization. Being in Ottawa allowed us to attract personnel with the experience and knowledge necessary to guide and manage our efforts, and the local chapter of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) certainly helped in this regard. With their help, CVD is proud to have registered to ISO-13485-2016.
- Young Talent: Another benefit of our Ottawa location is the presence of the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. These institutions enabled and encouraged recruitment of their talented students via their co-op programs. CVD was pleased to host several students last year and benefitted greatly for the contributions and creative thinking of their ‘fresh’ brains. We will continue to participate in the program and believe that our company’s entrepreneurial spirit helps inspire these up-and-coming engineers and scientists, while they bring so much to our culture and progress.
- Federal Grants: Canada is blessed with not only impressive venture capital providers, but also extensive public funding programs for research and development. Being situated in Ottawa gives us easy access to both streams. While we haven’t done so up to this point, CVD intends to leverage the support of the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) in the new year. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) program offers another possibility for funding, and we will continue to pursue work which qualifies under the Scientific Research and Engineering Development (SR&ED) program. We are confident that these will help us to build upon the strengths of our current team and extend our expertise to further grow the Canadian medical devices industry.
Building out — and sustaining — a business is never an individual effort. In addition to hard-working internal team members, companies will need to rely on the expertise of external organizations at some point in their journey. It is important to select the support services, location and team members who will protect your reputation, grow your business and share in its success. The resources and support services discussed above — and of course, the city of Ottawa itself — each helped CVD get to where we are today. We are pleased to announce that we are half way through a 200-patient research study thanks to everyone’s support and guidance.
We hope other entrepreneurs won’t ‘skip a beat’ when it comes to selecting Ottawa for their HQ.
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Article source: The Adecco Group Lead 21 Issue
This article has been reproduced with permission from the author and the publisher. Title picture is not associated with the original writing and copyright of ASQ Ottawa Valley Section.