Innovation – it’s in our core! Acquisition of synthetic data trailblazer highlights CHEO as a place to incubate start-ups


Ottawa, Ontario — Tuesday September 13, 2022

When it comes to commercialization of research there is sometimes a difference of opinion in the academic world. The CHEO Research Institute is demonstrating the benefits of bridging academic research with industry partners through successful commercialization endeavours and a focus on innovation.

For Khaled El Emam, Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Medical Artificial Intelligence, health technology research presents excellent opportunities for meaningful commercialization pursuits that have a positive impact on health care delivery and research.

Replica Analytics, a start-up specializing in synthetic data generation (SDG), which was incubated at the CHEO Research Institute and the University of Ottawa Faculty of Medicine, was acquired by Aetion, the leading regulatory-grade real-world evidence (RWE) technology provider, in January 2022. This was Dr. El Emam’s second successful acquisition through the CHEO Research Institute; the first being Privacy Analytics which was started in 2007 and acquired in 2016.

“The CHEO Research Institute has been very supportive, recognizing the societal and economic impacts that can come from enabling the commercialization of academic research, which is also important for the research funding agencies themselves,” said Dr. El Emam.

SDG is a privacy enhancing technology gaining rapid adoption, particularly in health care, and Replica Analytics has been at the forefront of these developments. A machine-learning model is built that generates new, synthetic data that closely captures the statistical properties and patterns in real datasets. Because there is no one-to-one mapping back to a person, synthetic data can be shared more freely, addressing many of the administrative and regulatory constraints that exist with real personal data. The applications of SDG can be a game changer for research, particularly as researchers look to recruit enough participants for cutting-edge clinical trials.

The Replica Analytics success story is one illustration of the CHEO Research Institute’s work in the area of commercialization and CHEO’s broader commitment to streamline the development of health innovations aimed at improving the lives of Canadians.

Innovation – it’s in our core!

The CHEO Research Institute created a new Innovation and Commercialization Core in 2021. The Innovation and Commercialization Core aims to capture the passion and creativity at CHEO and create a rich supportive ecosystem designed for healthcare professionals. It will provide product management support, advice, innovation mentors, and system navigation to help transform inspiration into high-impact products and services for patients and families. The core is led by Matthew Bromwich, ENT surgeon at CHEO, Investigator at the CHEO Research Institute and founder of Shoebox, which now employs over 100 people and develops and distributes medical devices worldwide, and Jim Bottomley, Innovation Manager at the CHEO Research Institute.

Known as TECHi (Technology Enabling Child Health Innovations), this group provides services and supports to connect industry leaders with our innovative researchers. Learn more by visiting the TECHi webpage.

Read the full 2021-2022 CHEO Research Institute Annual Report.

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