We know very well that COVID-19 has resulted in a variety of challenges and issues impacting the daily lives of all Canadians. Healthcare systems have been deeply impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a variety of issues and problems affecting billions of people. This has brought to light the need for greater investments in innovation to quickly identify and develop solutions to manage the impact of the pandemic and prepare us for the future.

Some challenges we are facing include health system capacity, managing remote and rural populations, patient data tracking, the reopening of the economy, along with less direct yet also important challenges such as maintaining productivity while distancing. Having a learning health system that is focused on innovation and can adapt rapidly has never been more imperative in helping find and implement meaningful solutions to the challenges of COVID-19. Roche Canada believes that the best solutions can come from anywhere and happen when we put our heads together as a community – not just within one company.

That is why in March, we established the COVID-19 Open Innovation Challenge, calling on Canadians from coast to coast to bring forward innovative ideas to address some of the biggest challenges and issues caused by the pandemic. By early April, over 800 submissions from across the nation were put forward showcasing the amazing skill and expertise we have in our country.

The Steering Committee, comprised of individuals from Roche across several functions including Medical Affairs, Commercial Operations, IT and Roche Diagnostics as well as patient advocacy representatives, reviewed and identified 11 winners who developed unique and well-thought out solutions. Roche Canada has committed $900,000 to help develop and implement these ideas and help bring them to life.

“Our mission at Roche Canada is to create and empower innovation in the healthcare system,” said Michael Duong, Head of Personalized Healthcare, at Roche Canada. “Innovation comes from the community, not at the hands of the few, but the many. We wanted to show that by investing in innovation at the community level, we have the ability to create and mobilize grassroots solutions to address the impacts from this pandemic and systemic challenges with our healthcare system.”

Winning ideas include a variety of innovative solutions that will use advanced research practices and technology to help us better understand the virus, attempt to control its spread and put forward ways to continue supporting those at highest risk. A few ideas brought forward included symptom monitoring and prediction in senior’s homes using artificial intelligence, the commercialization of fast-acting surface antimicrobial for high-touch areas, development of a simple low-cost ventilator for health system use, developing post-discharge virtual care with remote automated monitoring technology and many more.

These solutions have the potential to help curb growing challenges and Roche is proud to be supporting and championing the work of these teams. Roche will continue to support and identify ways to help Canadians during this uncertain time, and work towards innovative solutions that engage and empower communities across Canada.

For more information on the winners visit the COVID-19 Open Innovation Challenge page of RocheCanada.com.