Breakthrough health technologies to reach patients faster through MaRS EXCITE

Program announces first round of participants

Toronto, May 30, 2013 – The first three companies selected to participate in the MaRS EXCITE program aim to improve outcomes for breast cancer, sleep apnea and drug-resistant hypertension.

The Excellence in Clinical Innovation and Technology Evaluation (EXCITE) initiative helps companies accelerate the adoption and reimbursement of innovative health technologies through a single, harmonized, pre-market, evidence-based process.

EXCITE has selected ApneaDx Inc., Medtronic of Canada Ltd. and Rna Diagnostics Inc. as the program’s initial participants.

“MaRS’ EXCITE program works with industry experts in close collaboration with the Ontario healthcare system and leading academic health centres to develop path-breaking protocol designs and implement new partnerships,” said Ilse Treurnicht, CEO, MaRS Discovery District. “We are delighted to now bring these innovative technologies one step closer to improving the health and well-being of Ontarians. In addition, the health system is providing critical validation for Ontario’s leading medtech innovations, which in turn will enable adoption elsewhere.”

EXCITE selects technologies primarily based on their potential to substantially improve clinical outcomes for patients or lower system costs, compared with current approaches.

EXCITE is privileged to have involvement from academia, the provincial health system – including clinicians – the medical technology industry, and the Ontario government. Working with this diverse group of partners will allow EXCITE to provide participants with relevant, early information on how their innovations would be implemented and used in patient care. By collaborating with companies in the pre-market stage, improvements can be integrated early in the product life cycle when redevelopment is still possible.

“EXCITE will enable Ontarians to have faster and improved access to innovative new health care technologies that will help to ensure patients receive the right care, at the right time, in the right place – a key pillar of our government’s Action Plan for Health Care,” said Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care.

“Today’s announcement is a promising step towards helping Ontarians get faster access to new health technologies,” said Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation. “Ontario is committed to making smart research and innovation investments that can lead to life-saving discoveries. This is why we are a hub for life science research and the largest life sciences region in Canada. I am proud to see our investments creating jobs, strengthening the economy and most importantly improving quality of life.”

The Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) initiative, based at the University of Toronto, and The Applied Health Research Centre (AHRC) at St. Michael’s Hospital will lead the clinical studies for these first three EXCITE technologies. These studies are large provincial clinical trials with embedded health economics and systematic review components. The THETA initiative will evaluate the technologies for Rna Diagnostics and ApneaDx. The AHRC will be evaluating Medtronic of Canada’s device. Both of these centres have demonstrated experience and excellence in clinical trials methodology, health technology assessment and in conducting complex, multi-centre trials with proven capacity for data collection, synthesis and reporting.

“Medtronic of Canada is enthusiastic to be participating in the pioneering MaRS EXCITE program with our SymplicityTM Renal Denervation Catheter System,” said Neil Fraser, President, Medtronic of Canada Ltd. “Through its evaluation of Symplicity, EXCITE will develop the economic evidence to determine the applicability and cost-effectiveness required by the Ontario health system to make the appropriate decisions on the adoption of this novel, cost-effective, and clinically-proven technology that has the potential to benefit Ontarians suffering from pharmacotherapy-resistant hypertension.”

More information on the three companies participating in the first round of EXCITE:

ApneaDx Inc. has created an easy-to-use, affordable home-based device for diagnosing sleep apnea, a condition characterized by abnormal (or cessation of) breathing during sleep. Sleep apnea is also associated with a high risk of heart attack and stroke. Currently, it is estimated that 85 per cent of sleep apnea cases are undiagnosed. The ApneaDx Portable Home Sleep Apnea Device allows patients to collect quality data about their breathing patterns in their own home, reducing the burden on overnight sleep clinics.

Medtronic of Canada Ltdhelps patients suffering from pharmacotherapy-resistant hypertension with its SymplicityTM Renal Denervation System. This minimally invasive treatment delivers low-level radiofrequency energy through the renal artery wall to achieve renal denervation, substantially lowering blood pressure1 and reducing long-term complications and overall medical visits.2 The system was reviewed and approved under Health Canada’s Policy on Priority Review of Medical Device Licence Applications, as it provides substantial evidence of safety and efficacy for effective treatment in the prevention of a serious, life-threatening condition that is not adequately managed in Canada.

Rna Diagnostics Inc. has developed the RNA Disruption Assay (RDATM), a promising diagnostic tool that identifies breast cancer patients who are not responding to chemotherapy treatments. This device could alert clinicians to treat non-responsive patients with alternate therapies, directing patients toward more effective treatments sooner, and sparing them the potential adverse side effects of chemotherapy.


A world first, MaRS’ Excellence in Clinical Innovation and Technology Evaluation (EXCITE) is an evaluation platform that accelerates the adoption of breakthrough medical technologies by prioritizing only the best, most cost-effective technologies and helping them obtain the evidence they need for federal licensing and provincial health system adoption.

EXCITE helps these technologies navigate the system and get to market – and to patients – faster by providing:

  • An early indication of fit with the healthcare system;
  • Evidence in time to make technology improvements; and
  • Harmonized studies that support licensing and adoption decisions.

EXCITE is made possible through province-wide collaboration and leadership. Key stakeholders comprising EXCITE’s Management Board include research hospitals (CAHO), the provincial government (MOHLTC, MRI/MEDTE), industry (MEDEC and HTX), the health system (OHTAC) and MaRS.

About MaRS Discovery District

MaRS Discovery District (@MaRSDD) is a mission-driven innovation centre located in Toronto. MaRS works with partners to catalyze, accelerate and amplify innovation. MaRS supports entrepreneurs building Canada’s next generation of growth companies. In the last three years, MaRS startup clients have raised over $750 million in capital, earned over $375 million in revenue and hired well over 3,500 workers into knowledge economy jobs.

For more information, contact:

Melissa Hughes
Manager, Media & Community Relations
MaRS Discovery District
416.673.8100 ext. 2710

1Symplicity HTN-1 Investigators, Durability of Blood Pressure Reduction Out to 24 Months Catheter-Based Renal Sympathetic Denervation for Resistant Hypertension, Hypertension 2011;57;911-917; originally published online Mar 14, 2011.

2 Geisler BP, MD, MPH, Egan BM, MD, Cohen JT, PHD, Garner AM, MS, Akehurst RL, MFPHM, Esler MD, MBBS, PHD, Pietzsch JB, PHD, Cost-Effectiveness and Clinical Effectiveness of Catheter-Based Renal Denervation for Resistant Hypertension, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2012, 0735-1097.