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East coast-west coast partnership cements vision for Health and Technology District Saint John

Author: UNB Newsroom

Posted on Nov 23, 2020

Category: UNB Saint John

Coming soon to Atlantic Canada: a place where innovators and entrepreneurs, students and faculty will work alongside scientists, clinicians and health care practitioners to develop new technologies and improve health outcomes, patient experiences and the economics of health care delivery in the region and beyond.

This is the ambitious vision for the Health and Technology District Saint John, a joint partnership between the University of New Brunswick, Opportunities New Brunswick (ONB) and Lark Group. Through this joint public-private-academic initiative, Saint John is poised to become the leading hub for digital health in Atlantic Canada. The three parties have signed a letter of intent to work together on the further development of this project.

“Digital health is an emerging sector in New Brunswick and will be a critical component to our growth in the years ahead,” says Steve Milbury, vice-president of investment attraction and trade with Opportunities New Brunswick. “By leveraging our people, agility, infrastructure and innovation, we will modernize healthcare service delivery across the province, energize the private sector, and grow the economy. This partnership also reaffirms New Brunswick’s position as a global leader in research and productivity.”

The B.C.-based Lark Group has already established a highly successful Health and Technology District in Surrey, which will serve as a model for the Saint John version. The Surrey model encompasses a total of eight high-tech buildings, located immediately adjacent to Surrey Memorial Hospital.

“Lark Group had the incredible foresight to establish the Health and Technology District in Surrey next to one of Canada’s busiest hospitals, which gives the district a distinct advantage in attracting health-tech organizations from all over the world to join the ecosystem,” says Rowena Rizzotti, vice-president of healthcare and innovation at Lark Group. “We also see the unparalleled potential, synergies and possibilities of establishing an east coast district in Saint John, New Brunswick, through this optimal partnership with ONB and UNB.”

After a significant amount of collaborative analysis, Lark considers New Brunswick to have extraordinary strengths in new technologies, cybersecurity and entrepreneurship. The company also recognized the significant potential for synergies with UNB, a leading-edge research university with a role to work with industry, government, and others to support a stronger, healthier and more innovative New Brunswick and Atlantic Canada through translational research.

The initial plan for Saint John proposes a 75,000-square-foot building on the periphery of the UNB Saint John campus, adjacent to the Saint John Regional Hospital. Health and social innovation businesses, organizations, start-ups and researchers would be located in the building. There would be a particular focus on the advancement of digital health research and the creation of an innovation ecosystem which would catalyze competitive and innovative economic growth and job creation for New Brunswick.

“One of the most important goals in our new strategic vision, UNB Toward 2030, is to expand external partnerships to enrich student and professional learning opportunities and research collaborations,” says Dr. Paul J. Mazerolle, UNB president and vice-chancellor. “The partnership between UNB and the Lark Group is a perfect means to achieving this. There will be tremendous synergy between our ambitious new Integrated Health Initiative and the activities in the Health and Technology District. I foresee productive research collaborations, internships for our students, employment for our graduates, commercialization of new ideas through the businesses located there and more.”

The Health and Technology District Saint John would be part of UNB’s recently announced Integrated Health Initiative (IHI), an interdisciplinary program of education, research and innovation aimed addressing Canada’s health care challenges and social issues. The IHI is built on five pillars, one of which is knowledge transfer and commercialization. Through partnerships, the enterprises in the Health and Technology District would help UNB meet this objective.

The partners are currently in the process of finalizing the plans for Phase 1 of the project. They are excited about the great potential to create a national centre of excellence and contribute to substantial growth in the city.

About Lark Group

Lark Group is a family owned and operated development, construction and facility management company successfully developing real estate in British Columbia since 1972. Based in Surrey, Lark Group has a trusted reputation of building world-class institutional, residential and award-winning healthcare and long-term care developments. These efforts have resulted numerous P3 awards, including the Best International Project at the 2010 Public Private Finance Awards for the Royal Jubilee Hospital Patient Care Centre, a state-of-the-art, 500-bed care facility, as well as the Silver Award for Project Financing from the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships.

Media contact: Kelsey Pye