An American virtual healthcare service is basing its Canadian operations in Edmonton, citing the city's strong health-innovation ecosystem.
"The goal was for us to really zero in on where we think we want to be headquartered, where we want to start first," Ciba Health CEO Innocent Clement told Taproot during an event at Edmonton Global on July 18. "And when we looked at the landscape here… we've seen that Edmonton is certainly very forward-thinking. They built an ecosystem that is a very collaborative space that allows for startups like us to thrive."
Clement, who is a medical doctor, founded Ciba Health in New York City in 2020. The company provides personalized, AI-enabled healthcare to patients with chronic conditions, especially Type 2 diabetes. The company is still figuring out how its services will work within the context of a universal healthcare system, but in the U.S., patients pay $194 for a "root cause discovery program" that leads to a personalized health plan, and $150 per month for ongoing care involving connections to healthcare providers such as MDs and dietitians.
Clement said the company is not trying to compete against Canada's public healthcare system.
"We're not here to take away the jobs," he said. "We're here to enhance, using technology and using that methodology, to provide access to care."
Edmonton Global CEO Malcolm Bruce described Ciba Health as "complementary" to both universal healthcare and Alberta's health-innovation ecosystem, but he also said there's nothing wrong with a little competition when it comes to innovation.
"Remember, competition is a good thing, particularly for the clients," he told Taproot. "Think of energy. It's not a question of electric vehicles or hydrogen vehicles — it's going to be both."
Ciba was part of the third health cohort accepted by Plug and Play Alberta, an accelerator brought to the province through the Alberta Scaleup and Growth Accelerator Program (Scaleup GAP) from Alberta Innovates.
"As part of the program, Ciba Health had access to industry experts (and) several information workshops, helping them focus their pitches and hone their business objectives," Alberta Innovates vice-president of health Tim Murphy said during the event. "Ciba Health is exactly the sort of company that Scaleup GAP is designed for. The experience they bring from the New York marketplace is a terrific asset to Alberta's digital health ecosystem."
Ciba's services are not yet available in Canada. The company is awaiting regulatory approvals, planning a pilot project tentatively set for October, and looking for office space within Enterprise Square. Ciba also plans to hire up to 20 people within its first year, ranging from dietitians to coders to members of the operations team.
Photo: (From left) Tim Murphy of Alberta Innovates, Innocent Clement of Ciba Health, Coun. Jennifer Rice, Innovation Minister Nate Glubish, Roger Chahine of Ciba Health, and Malcolm Bruce of Edmonton Global attended the announcement of Ciba Health's choice of Edmonton as its Canadian headquarters on July 18. (Colin Gallant)