A liquid skin substitute for treating burns. A gastrointestinal tract (GI) probe for early cancer detection. An Emergency Department smartphone app to transform communication between patients and health professionals. And new skin monitoring technology to improve facial reconstruction surgery outcomes.

These are four ingenious and cutting-edge ideas that inspired philanthropic support at our inaugural Innovators’ Challenge event raising over $311,000.

“With the power of philanthropy, we can spark the greatest push for health care innovation ever seen in BC,” says Paul Geyer, Chair of the Innovators’ Challenge Advisory Committee.

Staying ahead in an ever-changing health care landscape

In 2018, we created the Innovators’ Challenge to provide a new and unique platform in BC for visionary health care inventors to share their revolutionary ideas with philanthropists.

In the coming years, new ideas will be realized that have the power to enable system-wide change to our health care system.

“If we are to be ready for the health issues of tomorrow, we need to invest today,” says Paul. “VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation is working tirelessly to ensure this happens.”

Early philanthropic investment is a key to creating a culture of innovation across Vancouver Coastal Health. We are grateful to our curious and future-focused donors who have stepped up to support our innovators, including Val & Dick Bradshaw, Colin Harris and Dr. Donald Ricci. Together, we are enhancing the testing, adoption and implementation of novel solutions for health care’s greatest challenges.

“Solutions to health care’s greatest challenges won’t come from one idea or person. They will come from a community of innovators and investors, using their time, talent and financial support to create system-wide change.”

— Paul Geyer, Donor and Chair of the Innovators’ Challenge Advisory Committee

2018 Innovators’ Challenge Projects

Each of the four project finalists from 2018 have been hard at work utilizing their donor funds to advance their projects. Catch up with all four now to see the advancements they’ve made. Click here

Dr. Kendall Ho

Emergency Department App

Dr. Kendall Ho’s team is developing an app that enhances patient to health professional communication to dramatically transform the patient experience in the Emergency Department. The app will gather and organize information to provide patients with their diagnosis, treatment and discharge instructions, and facilitate follow ups.

Dr. Don Anderson

Saving vital skin tissue

Dr. Don Anderson (right) and his team are creating a new and innovative technique with Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) technology to increase precious skin tissue salvage rates for tissue transfer in cancer surgeries.

Dr. Haishan Zeng

Detecting cancer in the GI tract earlier

Dr. Haishan Zeng and his team are building a new GI tract endoscope that will produce real-time histology-like and 3D images of tissues with cellular resolution using confocal optics. The new device will have extraordinary patient impact by detecting GI cancers early.

Dr. Aziz Ghahary

Liquid skin substitute for burns and wounds

Burn, diabetic and pressure wounds cause debilitating pain and can lead to serious health complications for patients. Dr. Aziz Ghahary (left) and his team are developing an infection-fighting liquid skin substitute made of natural skin proteins.

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Lifetime Achievement in Health Innovation Award 2018

Dr. Donald Ricci built his medical career over 35 years in coronary intervention and structural heart disease. He co-founded Evasc, a medical device company with Dr. Ian Penn, served as a Clinical Professor of Medicine at UBC, and was the former director of the cardiovascular medicine program at VGH. He is also a co-inventor for a number of medical devices. Dr. Ricci was the inaugural winner of our Lifetime Achievement in Health Innovation Award.