Surrey’s Health Tech Innovation Hub gives way to ‘mind-blowing’ advancements

Conquer Mobile chief technology officer Aaron Hilton (far right) demonstrates his company's 3D Selfie Scan at the grand opening of the Health Tech Innovation Hub in Surrey on April 9 | Photo: Tyler Orton

A glance out of the second-storey window of the Health Tech Innovation Hub reveals a dozen or so doctors and nurses dressed in scrubs, heading across the street from Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH).

Some are bound for the Starbucks in the hub’s foyer, while others have their sights on the hub itself.

The hub, which officially opened April 9 and is part of Surrey’s Innovation Boulevard project, is drawing entrepreneurs and researchers from across the region to set up offices and work with clinicians to develop new technologies for the health sector.

Conquer Mobile, which develops training simulations for nurses in the operating room, relocated from its Vancouver headquarters to the innovation hub at the beginning of April.

CEO Angela Robert said she went downstairs to grab a coffee during her first week at the hub and ran into a potential customer for the company’s iPad training app.

“It opened up a new userbase that I didn’t really think of before, (which) is training physician assistants,” she told Business In Vancouver during the opening.

“When we’re doing filming in the operating room (at SMH) and you’re able to go back and forth really quickly. If we have any technology questions working with the different clinicians there, we don’t have to put any sort of pressure on our team.”

Conquer Mobile chief technology office Aaron Hilton was one of the most popular attendees during the opening celebrations as he demonstrated the company’s Self Scan software.

While attendees lined up to get 3D scans of their heads that can be viewed from any angle on an iPad, Hilton said the real market value rests in the technology’s ability to scan bodies.

The body scans will be transferred over to virtual reality training sessions for nurses who need to practice surgery in a safe environment.

“The real mind-blowing thing with these technologies today is we can do a 3D scan of the end of your arm or the leg. We can take the negative of that and 3D print the prosthetic in the time in takes to get a latte,” he said, adding he can’t say exactly when that technology will hit the market but having the company headquartered across the street from the hospital is “fantastic.”

“It was really important with some of the new products coming out, some of the new companies, that they had the opportunity to connect with researchers, clinicians and network with one another and really work to get their products to market,” said Dianne Watts, CEO of the Health Tech Innovation Foundation, which oversees the hub.

Watts, the former mayor of Surrey who helped push forward with the Innovation Boulevard project two years ago, told BIV that it’s not just access to SMH that will benefit the hub.

The centre is also located one SkyTrain stop away from Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus.

“It’s a great networking and symbiotic relationship with all of the universities,” Watts said.