Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, is not only an enchanting place to visit, but it is also a hub of innovation and collaboration in the fast-moving field of advanced manufacturing, particularly in applying next-generation technologies to biomechanics.
The bustling capital of Canada, Ottawa, is not only a livable and charming city criss-crossed by rivers and surrounded by nature, it is also a hub for Canada’s advanced manufacturing sector. The sector accounts for $185 billion of Canada’s GDP, $260 billion in annual exports, and 1.7 million jobs across the country.
A leader in using next-generation technologies in biomechanics and in employing 3D printing technologies in hospital environments, Ottawa provides phenomenal opportunities for collaboration and knowledge-sharing in this fast-moving field.
The city boasts one of the highest per capita number of PhDs in the country. Among these are two Ottawa natives who focus on biomechanics in the Faculty of Health Sciences at University of Ottawa: Professor Daniel Benoit and Associate Professor and University Research Chair Ryan Graham.
Having so many highly trained researchers in the community “means that there’s a lot of research going on, and a lot of people to collaborate with who have some really great ideas,” said Benoit.
Strength in Collaboration
The fact that Ottawa is such an energizing destination for those working in biomechanics, and the advanced manufacturing sector overall, is largely due to the meaning collaborations that occur within the city between healthcare institutions. Benoit, for his part, collaborates with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, working closely with specialists he met at the Canadian Orthopedic Association annual meeting held in Ottawa in 2017.
“It has been just wonderful in the sense that it’s allowed my trainees to have these excellent opportunities to see their research in an applied, real-world setting,” he said. “It’s also led to some really neat breakthroughs with respect to changing the way we assess people in clinics.”
Other entities that play a prominent role in bringing researchers together are the Ottawa Carleton Institute for Biomedical Engineering — a collaborative program between the University of Ottawa and Carleton University; members of the business community such as startup accelerator L-SPARK and investment management firm Wesley Clover; and military institutions like Canada’s Department of National Defense and Defense Research and Development Canada.
Working with the Department of National Defense is an opportunity others in non-capital cities don’t get as often. The option “has allowed us to create some really interesting collaborations with our military, where we can use novel technology and machine learning to really try to augment both health and performance for our soldiers,” noted Graham.
Many collaborations begin or are expanded at important sector events that dot the calendar in Ottawa, such as the International Conference on Biomechanics in Sports, the North American Congress on Biomechanics, the Canadian Orthopedic Association annual meeting and the Canadian Association of Orthopedic Medicine conference.
Integrating Advanced Technology
Benoit and Graham emphasize that one of the most stimulating aspects of Ottawa’s advanced manufacturing sector is the applied use of biomedical innovations like artificial intelligence, machine learning, wearables, and 3D printing to help benefit patients.
“We actually get to see the patients who are going to benefit from this technology — they come into our labs and interact with our students,” said Benoit. “We also go to the hospitals and interact with the surgeons and the rehab specialists. We really get a chance to move health forward with some of this innovative technology. It’s very exciting.”
In one example, his team presented research into the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning for assessing the recovery of injured athletes at an International Olympic Committee conference on injury prevention. These advanced tools can help clinicians narrow hundreds of variables related to an athlete’s health down to three or four elements that can indicate whether or not the athlete is ready to return to action after an injury.
Cross-Disciplinary Biomechanical Research
Ottawa’s biomechanical research sector is also known for its cross-disciplinary nature, with work done in one area helping make breakthroughs in others, and advances in technology all pushing the work forward.
“Technology is moving so fast in various other fields, like computer vision and wearable sensors… and that continues to bleed into our research and vice versa,” said Graham.
One example of this cross-sectorial blending is markerless motion capture, which captures realistic movement patterns of people in a hospital, or in the field, as a way to develop personalized models in real time.
The North American Congress on Biomechanics, to take place in Ottawa this summer and co-chaired by Benoit and Graham, will bring together researchers from a wide range of fields to display such innovations and develop new collaborations. Specialists in Ottawa are eager to share their innovative thinking with visiting organizations. “The merging of all of this new technology is going to lead to some big breakthroughs in the next couple years,” said Graham. “We’re really excited to have people from across the industry come to Ottawa and to share this new area of research with them.”
Event decision makers in the sector are drawn to the city, not only because of its intimate yet impressive feel, but because they can leverage Ottawa’s extensive knowledge capital to elevate their conference agendas by hearing from local expert keynote speakers, going on tours of cutting edge -facilities, and exchanging ideas with industry leaders.
Are you an event decision maker in the advanced manufacturing sector? Click here to learn how you can tap into Canada’s innovation ecosystem and elevate your next event or conference.
For more information about Destination Canada’s work within priority economic sectors and how they can benefit business events, visit Destination Canada Business Events.
This content was created collaboratively by Destination Canada Business Events and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.