WIMTACH: A catalyst in digital health tech
Stephen LawElectronics Production / Materials Publisher's Pick Engineering Medical Printable Electronics Wearable Technology Editor Pick medical wearables WIMTACH
Wearable technology access centre situated at Centennial College in Toronto
In an effort to accelerate support to players in the rapidly evolving digital health technology market in Toronto, Canada and beyond – a number of key stakeholders from industry and funding partners formed WIMTACH. In long-form, Wearable, Interactive and Mobile Technology Access Centre in Health is an applied research centre at Centennial College Progress campus in Scarborough Ontario.
It uses a multidisciplinary approach to provide specialized knowledge, equipment and technology to companies and organizations involved with developing digital health tech.
As a Technology Access Centre, WIMTACH serves as a catalyst for and contributor to the growing ecosystem of digital health innovation by providing services to small to medium-sized businesses to carry out applied research projects. Through these projects, WIMTACH helps businesses activate their innovative ideas and transform them into commercialized successes.
WIMTACH began in April 2015 with a $1.75 million federal grant and is one of 30 Technology Access Centres funded by Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). Since then, WIMTACH’s record of success has continued to climb.
In this article, EP&T sets out to find out more about the centre and its services by conducting this Q&A session with WIMTACH director Dr. Purnima Tyagi.
What type of tech development does WIMTACH assist with?
WIMTACH supports Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) in developing the following: Digital health; Mobile; Interactive; Wearable; Electronics and mechanical; Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Artificial Intelligence; Prototyping of hardware devices; Automation; Testing and validation of devices and applications; Virtual reality (VR) and interactive capabilities.
Some of the services provided include: Market intelligence; Opportunity assessment; Business planning; Strategic consulting; Market research.
How does a group or individual obtain assistance from WIMTACH?
They both may obtain assistance through completion of the Collaboration Request Form available on the WIMTACH website. Thereafter, an exploratory meeting will be arranged to meet with the technical team, who are invited to the meeting based on the information provided in the form. This will include discussions on project requirement, eligibility of company for funding, resources requirement, funding options, among others. Series of follow-up meetings is required to ensure that the scope, budget, and timeline are clear and agreed upon by both parties before the kick-off of the project.
What services does WIMTACH provide?
A range of services are provided to industry clients with access to a variety of services, including research and development (R&D) services, networking opportunities, access to state-of-the-art facilities and students to participate in client projects using their technical expertise. WIMTACH also offers proposal writing and funding application assistance services for non-dilutive funding (e.g., OCE-VIP1, NSERC-ARD NSERC-Engage) so that companies can fulfill the financial requirements of applied research projects.
Below are a few in-depth examples of services:
The prototyping team is capable of designing and developing IoT, as well as medical devices and apparatus. With mechanical design engineering, stress analysis and rapid prototyping expertise available in WIMTACH, the Centre has done multiple engineering design, FEA and automation and robotics projects. Furthermore, the unique situation of WIMTACH allows the prototyping team access to skilled students from different technology programs of the college such as mechanical, electronics and robotics programs.
- Mobile Application Development
WIMTACH offers its clients expertise in developing mobile applications with up-to-date technologies (e.g., Bluetooth, GPS tracking and push notifications to name a few). The WIMTACH team includes a Research Technical Lead, who has vast knowledge and experience in mobile and web app development and Centennial College faculty derived from related programs such as Software Engineering and Software Development. WIMTACH can develop mobile applications for all
major mobile device platforms (i.e., iOS, Android and Windows).
- Augmented, Virtual Reality (AR & VR) and Interactive development Capabilities
Centennial College has highly-trained and industry experienced faculty members, who teach in programs such as graphical designing, game development, software engineering and mobile application development – and students with high-level skillsets to provide AR, VR and interactive development expertise to WIMTACH clients. As a result, WIMTACH is well-equipped to address a client’s technological related issues.
- Customized Trainings
Training and learning opportunities are offered to clients, which are designed to address specific challenges and provide expert advice in areas such as prototype development, concept design of mechanical engineering ideas, data analytics, cyber-security, gamification and interactive mobile app interface creation.
- Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence
WIMTACH has successfully collaborated with numerous industry partners and SMEs in developing state-of-art data analytics and AI-based software applications for various verticals in healthcare, wearable device development and biomedical data analytics. Centennial College also contributes to WIMTACH’s industry partnered projects, through the inclusion of highly trained faculty members in data mining, artificial intelligence and data analytics.
- Automation and Industry 4.0 Technology Development
With experts in IoT, simulation, additive manufacturing and data analytics, WIMTACH initiated a new automation project with manufacturing company with a purpose of automating the production process/line of shea butter to scale up production from 100 units/hr. to 400 units/hr. and support the current growth and revenue generation of the company. This project will transition the manual production process, which prolongs the production process, increases costs, increases the possibility of wasted raw material as well as enhances the potential contamination of the product due to human handing, to automated processes to reverse the negative impact of manual processes.
WIMTACH has been successful in taking clients’ business and technology challenges and converting these challenges into bright solutions as output from students who participates in the Hackathon. These same bright ideas are implemented as applied research projects where students, who developed the ideas will engage in these projects. WIMTACH has collaborated with different companies and hospitals for hackathons which were successfully converted into applied research projects.
- Grant Proposal Writing and Fund Acquisition Service
A proposal writing service is offered to help industry partners make the best financial investment for their company. WIMTACH identifies appropriate federal or provincial funding program for the company and its team of writers, support companies in the proposal writing process by ensuring that project ideas are well communicated in the application.
What are some examples of wearable design projects your team has assisted with.
- A wearable glove embedded with sensors to enable individuals with motor disabilities or neurophysiological disorders to interact with a computer (or a TV) using hand movements, or navigate and play into a 3D virtual environment for BreqLabs Inc.
- Development of an intelligent traction wearable device with a mobile application to collect data from sensor devices via Bluetooth for the improvement of human productivity and well being.
- Design and development of a needleless acupuncture device for AcuMade.
- Design and development of a flexible strain/pressure sensor for sleep monitoring applications for Noxware.
- Design, fabrication and testing of a smart sleeve for upper limb tele-rehabilitation using a novel strain sensor for Noxware.
Describe the range of tech firms that have received help.
WIMTACH has supported a large number of SMEs, that have potential for commercializing the applied research results. WMTACH has also helped wide range of tech firms from start-up to large corporations. Through MITACS funding, numerous start-up companies benefitted by support via hiring students under Business Strategy Internship (BSI) program. WIMTACH also recently collaborated with a large EMR firm that engaged close to 50 students and five faculty members with a budget of more than a million. Further, WIMTACH also supports not-for-profit organizations like medical institutions.
Describe the levels of involvement or engagement with clients.
All projects and engagements with WIMTACH are collaborative in nature. Thus, WIMTACH worked closely with clients to ensure the fulfillment of project commitments and high level of quality standard in delivering its services. In any applied research project collaborations, it is imperative that WIMTACH team and clients’ technical team worked closely and conduct weekly or bi-weekly meetings to ensure that the work plans are implemented accordingly as planned. In so doing, WIMTACH follows the agile framework in almost all projects to ensure achievement of project objectives agreed upon with clients.
Describe the varied skills that some WIMTACH team members bring to the development process.
The core technical team is composed of R&D leads in software development, mechanical design and development, electronics design and development, artificial intelligence and data analytics. As part of the Centennial College system, WIMTACH also leverages the industry expertise of faculty members from various fields of expertise depending on the project requirement.
What services are available through the Technology Access Centre (TAC)?
A wide array of business and technical services are delivered to the clientel. The following are services available:
- Applied research project collaborations
- Non-dilutive funding acquisition
- Technology development
- Customized training
- Product commercialization
What kind of non-dilutive funding does WIMTACH offer from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)?
WIMTACH has multiple NSERC funding available. Such as-
NSERC Technology Access Center
NSERC Innovation Enhancement
NSERC Innovation Enhancement Extend
NSERC Applied Research and Technology Partnership
NSERC Applied Research and Development
How do WIMTACH industry partners acquire funding?
To acquire funding, industry partners need to share the project requirements, while WIMTACH identifies the correct funding source for that project and then writes the proposal and initiates the funding applications. WIMTACH has proven expertise in grant writing that ensures the high success rate of acquiring funding. There are few multi-year funding acquired by WMITACH such as NSERC TAC, NSERC IE and NSERC ARTP funding.
How does WIMTACH’s industry partner proposals writing services work?
The WIMTACH team works closely with clients to understand the project requirement, through series of meetings, and to develop the workplan and other related components of the funding application until its completion. This close collaboration between WIMTACH and client ensures the high integrity of the proposal and increases the chances of approval from funding agency.
How does one get to work with WIMTACH on an applied research project?
It is imperative that a company is incorporated and registered in Canada in compliance with the mandate of the Centre to support Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) to become the economic force of Canada. SMEs, which have at least two fulltime and with T4 employees and which have been incorporated for two years, are eligible industry partners for NSERC, OCI, and NRC-IRAP funding programs. Start-up companies can become an industry partner of WIMTACH and can initiate applied research projects supported by MITACS
Who can attend WIMTACH trainings?
WIMTACH trainings are provided for the benefit of industry partners and students, alike. WIMTACH, currently, has multiple customized trainings that are open to everyone, who are interested to learn about Mobile and web application development, Data Analytics using Python, Scrum framework, Mechanical designs and concepts, Cyber-security, Design 101, and Artificial intelligence, among others.
For more information on WIMTACH, visit: https://wimtach.centennialcollege.ca