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Edmonton health innovation and tech in the global spotlight

Edmonton’s medical innovations attract international life sciences conferences and events 

A leader in innovation, Edmonton is raising the bar for health tech on a global scale. As a dynamic hub for life sciences leaders in academia, with growing expertise in the fields of artificial intelligence and machine learning, Alberta’s capital city is attracting international attention as it continues to break through the barriers of what’s possible.    

Edmonton is home to the University of Alberta, one of Canada’s top research universities and 60 percent of Alberta’s life sciences companies and startups. As such, it is an ideal host destination for health and biomanufacturing sector business events and conferences

Health sciences powerhouse 

Edmonton’s innovative applications for artificial intelligence in multiple fields, from organ transplantation to diagnostics and devices, is helping advance the health and medical tech sector, helping create tomorrow’s technology today.  

Edmonton has become a life sciences powerhouse for biotech, medtech, medical devices and pharmaceuticals research.

Anna Look, Director, Business Events, Explore Edmonton

“Some of the key ‘made in Edmonton’ innovations include a heart transplant protocol for children, the world’s first oral anti-viral treatment for Hepatitis B, and The Edmonton Protocol – a first-of-its-kind treatment for Type 1 Diabetes. The list goes on" says Look. 

Other ‘made in Edmonton’ innovations include Rob Burrell’s Acticoat bandages, Tevosol’s organ tech, a urine test to help detect colon cancer before it starts, imaging technology to treat retinal diseases that affect millions worldwide, the use of artificial intelligence to make thyroid ultrasounds better, and biosensors embedded in bandages to monitor diabetic foot wounds and prevent amputations.

A robot-assisted beating heart surgery developed in Edmonton reflects the city’s aptitude for using artificial intelligence in ground-breaking medical treatments. 

Medtech research and expertise 

Advanced facilities and post-secondary institutions enrich the city’s robust health and life sciences ecosystem, while scientists and researchers help drive this ecosystem and its many discoveries and innovations.    

Edmonton is home to world leading artificial intelligence researchers, with the University of Alberta now one of three AI hubs and ranked as one of the top five AI research institutes in the world for the past 25 years.  

Greiner, Canada CIFAR AI Chair, Fellow-In-Residence at Amii, and Professor of Computing Science & Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Alberta, has advanced decades of influential work, including the applications of machine learning in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and other clinical data to develop new ways of diagnosing schizophrenia – among other disorders – and assessing symptoms. Greiner works to provide solutions for real-world medical problems, while inspiring and leading the next generation of scientists.   

“Greiner is part of Edmonton’s brain trust composed of world leading researchers, practitioners and scientists, garnering the world’s attention and compelling major international life sciences corporations to choose Edmonton as the host city for their next conference or business event,” says Look.  

Blazing a new trail with synthetic data  

The application of synthetic data in artificial intelligence and machine learning is set to transform the life sciences sector. Health Cities, an organization paving the way for the transformation of Canada’s health economy, joined forces with the institute of Health Economics, Alberta Innovates, Replica Analytics, and the University of Alberta’s School of Public Health to accelerate the research in this field. In May 2021, the project welcomed Merck Canada, one of the leading biopharmaceutical companies in the world, as an industry partner.   

Synthetic data precisely simulates patient data without linking back to the individuals from whom the data was derived. In this way, synthetic data can be shared freely among researchers and scientists without impacting patient privacy, as the data contains no real patient health information.  

“Better data analysis techniques lead to better healthcare. Synthetic data provides a safe way for talented data scientists from community, academia, and industry to work alongside the health system to drive improved health outcomes,” says Reg Joseph, CEO, Health City.

Synthetic data is one of many health tech and AI innovations to emerge from Edmonton, with advances in prosthetic and robotic systems for bionic limbs, as well as ‘wearable tech’ reducing health-care costs and, ultimately, saving lives.  

Innovations in wearable tech 

One such innovation, being developed by the University of Alberta researchers in collaboration with a key health innovator, is a wearable sensor to help people with multiple sclerosis monitor their symptoms, allowing doctors to treat patients remotely. The sensor detects loss of mobility, balance and changes in activity levels, provides feedback to the patient and communicates back to health-care providers.  

“This is the future of monitoring neurodegenerative diseases,” says Hossein Rouhani, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Engineering and primary investigator in the Neuromuscular Control and Biomechanics Laboratory. “We saw how hospitals become a hub during events like COVID-19, so it's better to minimize the number of people referred to hospitals.” 

Canada’s catalyst city lures business events 

Edmonton’s scientists and researchers are the life blood of the City’s health and life sciences sector; driving health discoveries and innovations which in turn drive improved patient care and are helping create tomorrow’s healthcare today.     

“The world is witnessing the rise of Edmonton as a hotbed for innovation and the city is becoming a drawcard for business events and life sciences organizations who wish to tap into this buzzing sense of excitement,” says Look.   

“Organizations can leverage our local industry professionals, academics and researchers to elevate their conferences with compelling workshops, facility tours and off-site meetings.”  

In a city known for its entrepreneurial spirit and talent pool, it’s easy for event organizers to source passionate thought leaders and researchers from a spectrum of disciplines to enhance speaker programs and encourage creative collaboration between delegates.   

The Explore Edmonton Business Events team provides the connective tissue to build unforgettable meetings and conferences, making use of state-of-the-art venues and inspirational meeting hubs, superior hotels and an international airport that is offering non-stop connections to more than 50 destinations around the world.

Ready to host you safely from touchdown to take-off   

Edmonton is the only GBAC Star accredited destination in Canada. The Destination GBAC STAR Accreditation program is the cleaning industry's only outbreak prevention, response and recover accreditation for facilities and destinations. This ensures Edmonton's major venues, hotels and transportation partners are working towards the same high standards for cleanliness and outbreak prevention—adding an additional layer of confidence for major event planner and business travelers who choose Edmonton as their destination.  

Meetings with purpose 

By enriching programming with industry innovators and meaningful localized tours, business event organizers can attract more delegates, increase revenues, and inspire future generations.  

“We call that 'meeting with purpose’,” says Look, pointing out that when the time is right for in-person events to resume, Edmonton is poised to show off its expansive life sciences ecosystem.  

Plan your meeting in Edmonton HERE
Discover more about Canada’s life sciences business events HERE