Speech by Senator Deacon on Canadian Innovation Exchange

Canadian Innovation Exchange

Senators' Statements

November 1, 2018


The Honourable Senator Colin Deacon :

Honourable senators, I’ve recently been reminded the easy way to find out if you’re old is to fall in front of a group of people. If they laugh, you’re still young; if they panic and start running towards you, you’re old.

Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting a Canadian company working on this very issue when I attended one of Canada’s preeminent tech conferences, called CIX, or the Canadian Innovation Exchange. This excellent conference brings together most of our leading investors with many of our most promising tech startups.

I want to tell you about two of those startups.

Plantiga is a Vancouver-based startup that is creating a powerful window into human health and performance. They place sophisticated insoles in shoes to collect and then analyze detailed movement data.

The company’s first customers are high-performance athletes and elite sports teams, primarily in the US. These customers are helping Plantiga to prove and further develop their tech prior to their planned move into health care.

Particularly, they intend to focus on remote patient monitoring, rehabilitation and fall prevention of the elderly.

Falls are a very big and painful health issue in North America, resulting in approximately $60 billion in direct medical costs each year.

Most of us have seen the horrible effects of falls on the lives of the elderly and those around them. For me, this issue became highly personal when my late Mum had her first fall. About 12 million elderly fall each year in North America. This number will only grow as we baby boomers continue to age, I’m sorry to tell you.

Plantiga’s innovative technology can identify signs of instability 20 to 30 minutes prior to a fall. This data-driven insight could allow an alert to be sent to a user or caregiver with the intention to intervene and prevent the fall in an estimated half of all cases.

I also want to tell you about another company at CIX.

Ecobee is a 10-year-old Toronto-based tech company that now has several hundred million dollars in sales. Their Wi-Fi enabled smart thermostats have both residential and commercial applications. These devices enable their customers to maximize indoor comfort while delivering energy savings.

I was impressed to learn the collective energy savings now being achieved by Ecobee customers is equivalent to taking the entire city of Miami off the grid — and they’re still just getting started.

In the Senate, we’re working hard to solve big, important problems. I’m constantly amazed by the smart and innovative entrepreneurs who are also working on these big problems.

As we examine legislation and undertake our committee work, please remember to look for Canadian companies that are already working on the same problems. Find out what we could do to accelerate their achievement even faster and help them to deliver even more impressive results. Not only will you be empowering effective, cost-efficient and scalable market-based solutions, you will help to create opportunity, jobs and wealth here in Canada.

Startups can help us to solve the many big social challenges facing our nation and the world. Let’s help them to help us achieve this important goal.

Thank you, colleagues.