01 / How can Via help me?
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VIA INNOVATIONS is a group tasked with supporting commercialisation of innovations either directly out of the CDHB, or more broadly out of the Canterbury health sector.

The team work with innovators to develop clear commercialisation pathways from assessing the technology, to planning its commercialisation, to executing the plans and actually taking the innovation to market.

More broadly, VIA INNOVATIONS has a mandate to educate people about commercialising innovation, to nurture an innovation culture within the CDHB and for facilitating commercial links into and out of the CDHB, especially its relationships to local health and biotech SMEs.

VIA INNOVATIONS can assist with any innovation query you have, including: 

  • Providing intellectual property, protection and structuring advice
  • Connecting you with industry partners 
  • Commercialisation advice and support, including freedom to operate searching and market assessments

02 / Who will I be working with?
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Executive Leader - Health Innovation

James leads the Information Services Group (ISG) for Canterbury and West Coast DHBs. In his role as Chief Digital Officer James also holds the Executive Portfolio for Innovation. Born and bred on Auckland’s North Shore, James whakapapas to Northland (Ngapuhi, Karetu).


Innovation Director - Via Innovations

Anya oversees and coordinates Via Innovations' activities. Anya has a background in tech startups, commercialising emerging technologies from universities and managing innovation funding processes.


Clinical Innovation Director

Dr Helen Lunt provides a link between clinical staff and Via Innovations. In addition to her role with Via Innovations, Dr Lunt continues to undertake clinical, teaching and research activities in diabetes. She also has multiple mentoring roles and is a University of Otago (Christchurch) Clinical Associate Professor.


e-clinical Health Lead

Saxon Connor provides a link between e-health innovators and Via Innovations. In addition to his role at Via Innovations Saxon is an HPB Surgeon at Canterbury DHB and e-tutor for a UK-based HPB ChM programme.

03 / Who have you worked with?
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Connecting Innovators to Investors

Hartwell Simulation

  • Founded by CDHB's anaesthetist Dr Daniel Hartwell and Medical Physics and Bioengineering engineer Michael Sheedy
  • A low cost medical simulator which helps medical professionals improve safety and quality of care provided to patients
  • Supported by Via Innovations since 2014 and collaboratively developed and market validated with Australasian biomedical distributor Domo Technica
  • Commercialisation expertise and access to pre-seed co-funding received through the New Zealand Health Innovation Hub (NZHIH)

 Simple CPD

  • Founded by CDHB anaesthetist Dr Christian Brett
  • Smart phone app and associated website to enable simple and efficient management and reporting of continuing medical education (CME) requirements for medical college professional accreditation
  • Via Innovations has supported the development and piloting of Simple CPD at the CDHB and the sponsorship of SimpleCPD to the New Zealand Health Innovation Hub (NZHIH)
  • Pre-seed co-funding has been awarded through NZHIH to carry out market validation and business model development.

Connecting Health to Enterprise

Medsalv - medical waste reprocessing

  • Medsalv is a local business that was developed specifically to reduce waste and stretch the health dollar further.
  • Via Innovations supported Medsalv to validate its concept through a pilot project hosted by Burwood Hospital.
  • After proving the concept and delivering savings and reduced waste as promised, Medsalv has secured a long-term contract with the Canterbury DHB.

 Blue Mirror – virtual PPE donning and doffing buddy

  • As the Covid pandemic unfolded Blue Mirror turned their skills to developing a virtual mirror app designed to improve the competence and confidence of health professionals in donning and doffing personal protective equipment.
  • Canterbury DHB, through Via Innovations and the Manawa Simulation Centre, are sponsoring a validation trial to evaluate Blue Mirror's innovative virtual PPE donning and doffing buddy in a training environment.

 Wayfind-Smudge clinical decision support tool

  • Wayfind is a next-gen decision support tool leveraging nearly decade of chest pain pathway research by CDHB clinicians and university researchers, led by Director of Emergency Medicine Research Dr Martin Than.
  • Wayfind has been developed by the CDHB with IT expertise from Smudge.
  • Via Innovations has been supporting Wayfind since 2019, including assisting with a successful application for participation in the 2020 Spark Health Digital Innovation Programme, and providing pre-commercialisation services.
04 / Tell me more about Via
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One of the most common questions we are asked is "what does commercialisation mean in the context of health?" The term commercialisation can suggest to some a totally financial goal. We do not view commercialization like this. The CDHB recognises that innovation within the Canterbury Health System can take many forms. It may involve adopting new techniques, lean management systems, better efficiencies, technologies to improve information flows, licensing technologies and new ventures based on protectable intellectual property.

In short, commercialisation is the process of taking a product / service / innovation to market. These products or services are the result of commercialisation of an idea. Commercialisation requires an idea to be turned into intellectual property – i.e. requires the idea to have been protected somehow.

Intellectual property comes in many forms from registered rights (i.e. patents, trademarks, registered designs) to unregistered rights (i.e. copyright, trade secrets and knowhow). The strength of your intellectual property will depend on selection of the most appropriate form(s) of intellectual property to protect your idea and strategic application of that protection. For example, Coca-Cola decided to protect its beverage recipe by trade secret instead of patent as this meant no-one had access to the recipe (protected or otherwise). By contrast, many surgical devices have been protected by patents as they are easy to copy and impossible to maintain as a trade secret.

Intellectual property (or legal factors) is only one of three key factors which need to be considered when assessing whether or not to pursue the commercialisation of an innovation. The other two are product factors (i.e. is it technically feasible to make and market your innovation) and market factors (i.e. does anyone want to buy it?). Where these three factors overlap is the commercialisation sweet spot where success is more likely.


05 / Frequently asked questions
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1. Will I lose control of my innovation if I talk to Via Innovations?

While VIA INNOVATIONS looks to commercialise technologies where appropriate, this is only undertaken when the Innovator wishes to proceed with commercialisation (and the innovation is approved for further support by VIA INNOVATIONS). Decisions on how to proceed are made alongside Innovators and where an Innovators wishes to pursue an alternate course that is their decision to make.

2. Who owns the intellectual property?

Intellectual Property ownership (and control) is an important factor in the commercialisation of any innovation. It can also be a complex factor. VIA INNOVATIONS can help you to clarify who owns the innovation and how this effects its commercialization.

3. Do I have to work with Via Innovations?

There is no requirement that innovations commercialised out of the CDHB run through VIA INNOVATIONS. In fact in some cases commercialisation is better suited to be managed by an individual department. Where you are unsure as to whether or not you wish to work with VIA INNOVATIONS we recommend you discuss the situation with both an appropriate member of your CDHB department and/or the VIA INNOVATIONS team, for further clarity. However, if you have developed something in the course of your job and want to go it alone, a conversation will be needed with your relevant manager and/or the Via team.

4. Is my idea worth bringing to Via Innovations?

Assessment of whether or not an idea is suitable for working with Via Innovations can easily be assessed in an initial meeting with a member of the VIA INNOVATIONS team. For many innovators the true potential of their idea is difficult to assess and this is where VIA INNOVATIONS can quickly provide you with an objective view on how to proceed.

5. How long does it all take?

How long is a piece of string? We expect to be able to tell innovators whether or not their idea is suitable to work alongside VIA INNOVATIONS on within 2-3 weeks of their initial meeting with the VIA INNOVATIONS team. The time period for any subsequent commercialisation will depend upon the stage at which your idea has been developed to, the resources required to get it to market etc.

6. Will my idea be kept confidential?

Yes and we are happy to document this formally if required.

06 / How do
we start?
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The best way to start is with an initial meeting with one of our team to hear about your idea. We will send you out some information ahead of time with an idea of the sorts of questions we will ask and things we consider when providing advice. Don't worry if this process is new to you - we are here to guide you through it.

Please email us with a brief summary of your idea and we will be in touch shortly to set up a time to meet.