ArthritisHack: Breaking Down Innovation Barriers

LMatar photo 2013Today’s guest post comes from Lisa Matar, President and General Manager at Lilly Canada.

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Arthritis Society’s ArthritisHack at MaRS. The Arthritis Society partnered with Hacking Health to bring together 100 people from across the health, technology, and design sectors. They developed innovative proposals and prototypes to help Canadians living with arthritis overcome barriers in their daily lives. Lilly sponsored the three-day hackathon, and I was part of the panel of judges that selected the winning projects. Among the criteria we used was an assessment of how innovative and scalable the proposals were.

Going to the ArthritisHack was an exciting opportunity to see innovative solutions being developed in real time, and the atmosphere was electric. It was both exciting and humbling to see everyone working together towards a common goal – accelerating innovations to help make life better for people with arthritis. I was surprised at how quickly participants developed prototypes, and used each other’s skillsets to come up with truly meaningful projects. The event reinforced the importance of cross-sector collaboration and technology in bringing innovative healthcare solutions to the table. ARTHRITISHACK

We know the value of innovation and technology in the discovery of life-saving therapies, and the advancement of healthcare as a whole, which is why we’re one of the cornerstone investors of the TVM Life Sciences Venture VII fund, and we sustain public-private partnerships.  

We’ve previously discussed commitments by all three levels of government to sustaining a thriving innovation ecosystem. In Ontario, the move to create the Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist demonstrates ongoing efforts to create a space where innovative ideas can blossom. And they also participate in local events – William Charnetski, the Chief Health Innovation Strategist, reiterated Ontario’s commitment to innovation and healthcare as important drivers of our economy in a motivational video message shown to participants at the ArthritisHack.


Although we did award the first prize to one project, I think everyone at the ArthritisHack can be proud of the contributions they’ve made to the arthritis community. To see such collaboration, dedication, and hard work was inspiring. It’s certainly an experience I’ll never forget.