The Health Technology Cluster: Innovation Boulevard

In 2006, while Captain Trevor Greene was in Afghanistan serving with the Canadian military, he sustained a severe brain injury in an axe attack. The attack nearly killed him, and the resulting damage made the likelihood of walking again next to zero.

This past September, though, at the Surrey campus of Simon Fraser University, Greene publicly took steps with the aid of a customized mechanical exoskeleton, the result of a several years-long collaborative project named Iron Soldier, led by neuroscientist, SFU professor, and Surrey Innovation Boulevard Co-Chair Dr. Ryan D’Arcy, and supported by a number of medical and engineering professionals from the region and around the world. The public steps Greene took marked the opening of a new avenue in brain rehabilitation and technology.

The name of the location where the work, improvement, and breakthrough took place could not be more fitting: Innovation Boulevard.

Encompassing one square mile in Surrey’s city center, the Innovation Boulevard is a medical sciences and technology cluster comprised of companies, health research institutions, health professionals, and universities focusing and collaborating on development in three main areas: medical technologies, independent health technologies, and digital health technologies.

“In terms of the expectations,” says D’Arcy, “that’s always been really clear and always will be: That’s to continue to use tech innovations and the power of our cluster to make an impact on the individuals right in front of us and their healthcare.”

The Innovation Boulevard, founded in 2012 by the City of Surrey, Simon Fraser University, and the Fraser Health Surrey Memorial Hospital, is an excellent demonstration of the ongoing integration of technology in a sector that is touching and improving individual lives on a daily basis.

“The hopes are that Innovation Boulevard continues to demonstrate for British Columbia the huge potential when we work together in partnership and focus our energies on a global race,” says Dr. D’Arcy.

The vision for this health technology cluster is to improve health outcomes, implement intelligent solutions for the health-care system, attract talented clinicians and researchers, and grow companies in the healthcare technology sector to better serve the residents of B.C.