Introducing Spark, Issue 2

16 June 2015

A great idea can change the world. But even the best ideas need to be nurtured by a supportive research ecosystem as they travel the long road from discovery to validation, dissemination, and adoption.

In the second issue of Spark, we look at how four MSFHR-supported researchers have transformed made-in-BC ideas into products and policies that are improving health worldwide. Their experiences reveal British Columbia’s tremendous potential for research with global impact, as well as the myriad challenges awaiting researchers who wish to bring locally produced innovations to market or clinical practice.

The story is told in five chapters, each examining a different aspect of the journey from idea to impact. We look at the foundational work of proving a concept and attracting investors. We learn what is needed to navigate the mundane but essential regulatory approval process. We explore different approaches to informing practice and policy. Finally, we review the BC-specific advantages that help to support researchers at every stage.

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One major advantage of BC’s health research enterprise is its access to centralized data resources that enable large-scale population-based studies. As Dr. Patricia Janssen notes in Chapter 3, “We’re a very data-rich country. In British Columbia, we have Population Data BC, and it was necessary to use that data, combined with data from Perinatal Services BC, to look at our outcomes… access to those data sources was critically important to us.”

Dr. Torsten Nielsen goes further, discussing in detail the unique nature of BC’s health data capacity and its value for researchers across a broad range of disciplines.


Another key advantage supporting BC researchers is the availability of protected time for research through programs like MSFHR’s Scholar Awards. In this video, Nielsen and Dr. Mark Ansermino explain the crucial role of a Scholar Award’s salary support in launching careers such as theirs.

Of course, no system is perfect, and there are opportunities ahead to further enhance BC’s research enterprise in order to reach our province’s full potential.

What do you think?

What are the BC resources that support the translation of ideas to impacts? How can we do better? What are the ideas that will elevate our province to the next level as an incubator of health innovation?

Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below, dropping us a line at or tweeting us @msfhr.


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