(l-r) France's SATT Grand Centre President Daniel Burtin, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner and SFU President Andrew Petter sign an agreement to collaborate on health technology innovation.


Health technology needs drive international collaboration

June 13, 2016

The global need for new health technology solutions is the impetus for an agreement signed today by Simon Fraser University, the City of Surrey and France’s Société d’Accélération du Transfert de Technologies (SATT Grand Centre).

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) formalizes a relationship between Canadian researchers and SATT Grand Centre, which serves as a key interface between its network of researchers and companies to promote innovation in four French regions.

The MOU will spark collaboration and shared expertise between Canada and France across a range of innovative projects involving SFU’s Digital Health Hub, a platform for digital health solutions within Surrey Innovation Boulevard.

It will also involve national research initiatives of which SFU is a member, including AGE-WELL Network of Centres of Excellence (NCE), which develops healthy aging solutions, and NeuroDevNet, dedicated to the study of children’s brain development.

“As Canada’s ‘Engaged University,’ SFU is keen to contribute its strengths in research, innovation and entrepreneurship to these collaborations in an effort to find creative solutions to critical global healthcare challenges,” says SFU President Andrew Petter.

The agreement paves the way for exchanges of scientific information and technology trends, including the creation of an international innovation network and startups competition, exchanges, and technology launch support in Europe. It will also set the stage for joint grant applications and the future creation of start-ups with international reach.

“As a genuine growth accelerator, SATT Grand Centre encourages innovation by researchers from the public research sector based in its regions,” says Daniel Burtin, president of SATT Grand Centre. “Our major goal within this ambitious collaboration is to share development of valorization programs or projects of mutual interest over the two continents, and to amplify the worldwide impact of our contribution to the technological progress.”

SATT Grand Centre is a key player in advancing technology transfer in France, with a broad ecosystem that includes seven universities, two science and technology centers, and six graduate schools. Its community spans 8,500 researchers as well as eight competitive clusters and 20 clusters of excellence across the four regions it serves.

Its focus on diagnostics and medical devices strongly aligns with SFU’s work in areas of technology and aging underway at the University's Gerontology Research Centre (GRC) as well as the Digital Health Hub, says Andrew Sixsmith, GRC director and AGE-WELL’s co-scientific director.

AGE-WELL was instrumental in laying the groundwork for this international collaboration through its early and ongoing support and participation, and will continue to be an important vehicle for this new partnership.

The Digital Health Hub, as part of Innovation Boulevard, will foster partnerships that take innovation in areas of health technologies and digital health in bold new directions. Technology “soft landings” and start-up incubations will follow.

 SFU Vice-President, Research Joy Johnson says SFU is “committed to improving the wellbeing of Canadians through its participation in national research initiatives, and its work with SFU Innovates’ partners like Surrey Innovation Boulevard. We look forward to collaborating with France’s SATT Grand Centre to extend the impact of these efforts on an international scale.”

SFU has pre-existing collaborations in France’s Auvergne region, involving earth sciences, mathematics and computing science faculty members.