By: Laura Clementson
A $2.3 million grant awarded to Algonquin will allow students to get hands-on experience practicing applied reserch and assisting the medical industry.
The money from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) will be put towards a new health and wellness research centre, which will be focused on helping Algonquin’s clients develop medical assistive and analytical devices that will be used by the clients to help the medical industry.
“Our goal is to help improve the efficiency and the productivity in the health care system for the use of medical, analytical, and assistive devices,” said Mark Hoddenbagh, director of applied research and innovation at Algonquin.
More specifically, the centre will be looking at the development of patient-centric devices that potentially could be worn at home to help monitor one’s health. As Hoddenbagh explains, when a patient visits their doctor, he or she will only be getting a snapshot of their health opposed to the entire movie, which is something such devices could provide.
Hoddenbagh boasted about Algonquin’s healthcare facility, which he said will mesh well with the college’s other stronger areas.
“We have all these different people who are involved with the healthcare industry, so we thought, we have strong skills in ICT (Information and Communications technology) and digital media, we have strong skills in healthcare, so we should put these two together,” said Hoddenbagh.
“We’re trying to vary our strengths in technology into other disciplines so we have an initiative now to move ICT and technology into the health care area.”
Another goal of the centre is to give jobs and economical growth in the Ottawa area according to Hoddenbagh who also believes that all students should be practicing applied research.
“Applied research is here for students,” said Hoddenbagh. “We’re an educational institution—I think all of our students should be doing applied research.
“Students are an integral part of this centre and they’ll be the primary beneficiaries in terms of helping enhance their education.”
Hoddenbagh says they are really focused on business, which could have set Algonquin apart from other contenders when applying for the grant in April.
“We have a very good process within our office for getting projects in and for getting them done. We have a really strong track record for helping clients,” said Hoddenbagh.
The college had institutions such as Carleton University, the University of Ottawa, and the City of Ottawa supporting its application.
Along with the institutions were 12 companies who said they would be a part of the application. Among supporters is NGRAIN, a company based out of Vancouver that specializes in interactive 3D software and solutions.
For NGRAIN Strategic Business Development consultant, Carl Byers who works out of the Ottawa office, the grant is an opportunity to expand and work together with Algonquin in a tight-knit relationship.
“Projects like that tend to enable industry and academia to work together and produce valuable outcomes that benefit society as well as to the market,” said Byers.
One of the three things NGRAIN hopes to get out of the partnership with Algonquin is to be able to build new solutions and applications that have market potential. They also hope to validate applications within the structure of Algonquin using their 3D technology says Byers.
To manage the new centre, Algonquin has hired former student Kevin Holmes who has over 20 years of experience in the medical devices sector.
Holmes, who says he’s thrilled to be back at Algonquin, says his position is to work with companies and people in the community who need assistance with specific projects within the health and wellness area.
“The ultimate goal of applied research here is students getting engaged in projects so that they’re better prepared for when they reach the workforce,” said Holmes.