Innovators supporting fight against COVID-19

From manufacturers that have retooled to answer the call for personal protective equipment to a company that has reinvented how physical therapy should be delivered with the creation of a virtual rehabilitation platform, the City of Markham is celebrating the talent that is driving innovation here.

The city launched Innovation Month with a virtual flag raising at www.markham.ca/innovation on Tuesday, June 2 and a plan to celebrate innovators who have pivoted their businesses to support the fight against COVID-19.

The city, for example, is the first in Canada to use IBM Watson Assistant for Citizens, a virtual web and telephone assistant that responds to COVID-19-related questions in real time. It has also joined ShopHERE, a program that helps independent businesses and artists develop online stores and boost sales. It’s also using artificial intelligence to detect and fix potholes.

“We are also seeing innovation like never before as companies shift, retool and rethink the way we interact with each other and with the world during and after this pandemic,” Mayor Frank Scarpitti says. “We are hearing stories of resiliency, generosity and outstanding leadership. Markham is proud to be home to rich, skilled and diverse talent.”

The Markham Innovation Month 2020 webpage highlights companies like Iristel. Billed as Canada’s leading wholesale provider of phone numbers, it has helped people in business, government, health-care systems, education and other sectors adapt to new consumer and worker behaviours, patterns and expectations from home. eSCRIBE Software, a Markham-based provider of cloud-based meeting management solutions for public sector organizations, is helping municipalities remotely meet and govern through the pandemic.

ICON Visual has produced thousands of face shields for frontline workers in health care, food service and essential businesses across Canada using its FDA-approved acrylic. Honda associates at five different Honda facilities, including Markham, are using 3D printers to manufacture parts for face shields being donated to health-care facilities and first responders. Phyxable uses telemedicine, augmented reality and machine learning to empower people in pain to quickly diagnose, self-care and prevent their injuries from coming back.

The city is asking residents to celebrate Markham’s Innovation Month by following, liking and sharing its stories under the hashtag #MarkhamInnovation.

The City of Markham is using 3D equipment to print personal protective equipment and other medical equipment like face shield components and ear savers. Photo courtesy of the City of Markham.

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