Innovation Partnership: Procurement by Co-Design

A New Procurement Approach for the Healthcare Sector


The future of health depends on innovation — from individual well-being to the broader system that supports it. Technological breakthroughs are essential to keep medical science and practice moving forward. Progressive approaches to the delivery of health services benefit more lives by accelerating the application of those breakthroughs.

What if those who deliver services and those who create the breakthroughs were to join forces?


Procurement by Co-Design is a novel innovation procurement approach designed, developed and delivered by the MaRS Solutions Lab. The program enables the public sector to partner with innovative technology and service vendors to collaboratively create impactful solutions to pressing challenges. Taking a co-design approach, innovation teams engage key stakeholders, including end-users, to rapidly learn from small scale experimentation and iteration. Teams then conduct an outcome-based evaluation of the solution before making the final procurement decision.


Cohort 1 ran from August 2016 to July 2017. There were 29 challenge briefs submitted by providers across Ontario and 163 innovator briefs from vendors and innovators. 22 collaborative teams were formed, with 17 of them making it through the entire co-design process to the prototype pitch day. 3 teams were finally chosen to receive grants for procurement. The outcomes of these 3 solutions are:

  • Personal support workers gained a tool to find more time to spend with clients
  • Physicians now have a better way to get onboarded at a new hospital
  • Schedulers can better match their client needs with staff

Details of the Cohort 1 timeline and a sample of submitted challenges can be found here.

A developmental evaluation of the Trinity Village Care Centre / VitalHub innovation partnership from cohort 1 found the innovation is saving money, improving care and improving innovation adoption for the healthcare system. The full report is available for download below.

Innovation Partnership: Procurement by Co-Design launched its second cohort in September 2017. Five innovation partnerships are underway, including: using 3D printed sockets to improve prosthetic fittings and rehab for lower limb amputees; improved risk assessment of falls using real-time data in acute settings; and viable wayfinding solutions for complex healthcare environments. Cohort 2 outcomes will be updated here once this round wraps up in July 2018.

Learn More

To learn more, visit us at Procurement by Co-Design.
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