Chinese investors pursue groundbreaking med tech from Canada's MDI

Prominent Chinese investors have set their sights on Canada's Medical Devices Innovation Institute (MDI) for 7 new devices that could have over $1 billion each in sales potential, according to the institute's estimates.

China's ZDG, a state-owned investment enterprise that operates out of the country's Silicon Valley-like research park, signed an agreement with Ottawa's MDI for an exclusive 45-day option on the devices, according to a report from the Ottawa Citizen. Negotiations aren't final for the short-term license, which would expire in mid-December, but MDI is looking ahead to further interaction with the Chinese investors. The institute drew a line in the sand, saying it would provide details of the technology to ZDG down the road for $7 million in R&D funding. And MDI CEO Tofy Mussivand figures it would take anywhere from $500 billion to $700 billion to develop working prototypes, he told the Citizen.

Among the most possibly lucrative of the devices garnering the Chinese attention is a DNA identification system that can sequence genetic material in less than 15 minutes using only the oil left behind by a fingerprint. The chip-like device would have implications for personalized healthcare, as well as security and forensics. And MDI hopes to bring that 15 minutes down to 15 seconds.

"The impact of this, if it becomes reality, would be as big as computers around the world," Mussivand told the Canadian newspaper.

Others in the pipeline are a wearable "shirt" that transfers thermal energy into a person's body to enhance cell repairing in failing hearts; a stent deployment device with less obtrusive placement; a non-invasive electrolyte detection device; a battery that works through the skin; an electrical pulse sterilization device; and reusable CO absorbent technology.

As for the investors, Mussivand noted: "They have the money and they have the interest. I've been all over the world. I've never seen so much enthusiasm for technology as the Chinese have."

The concern on Mussivand's mind, though, is why the Chinese see the potential here when the Canadian government is missing the proverbial boat in med tech innovation. According to the report, among 17 countries that export medical devices, Canada sits second to last.

MDI began as a partner of the University of Ottawa Heart Institute in 2009 and works with hospitals, universities and industry players in Canada and elsewhere.

- here's the Ottawa Citizen story

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