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Community unites to drive local health care innovation forward 

Solving the region’s most pressing health care challenges will require community collaboration, and that’s exactly what was on display at several events celebrating Grand River Hospital Foundation’s Care Never Stops Week from May 23 to May 28. 

The programming included a Health Innovation Challenge in partnership with Velocity and the University of Waterloo, a free public talk with Tomi Poutanen, CEO and Co-founder of artificial intelligence-driven health company Signal 1, and a grand finale Rally for Health, with a free public concert.

The Innovation Challenge saw 120 University of Waterloo students broken into 30 teams with Velocity advisers and mentors overseeing each team’s progress. The goal of the 10-day long challenge was to foster locally created solutions to build a world-class health care system in Kitchener-Waterloo, and beyond.

Winning teams were Embrace, whose app helps connect the community to defend against perinatal depression and other challenges; Bed Connect, which is a bed inventory tech solution to help eliminate wait times; and MediSync, a machine learning powered medical appointment scheduling and documentation application. Each team won $6,000.

Embrace said interacting with other teams, Velocity advisors and Grand River Hospital Foundation mentors over the course of the 10 days gave the team a sense of confidence.

“We are hoping to see more opportunities for innovation because so many solutions presented today are doable. We want to see more community involvement for preventative measures to make the community as a whole healthier.” 

Elizabeth Agyei, University of Waterloo Biomedical Sciences undergraduate student, founder of Embrace.


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