Friday night in Saskatoon, Fabrizio Chiacchia and Iwain Lam, of Calgary-based biotech company Surface Medical, will be applauded as 2015 Ernest C. Manning Innovation Award winners.The Innovation Award, which comes with a cash prize of $10,000, is one of several the Ernest C.
Manning Foundation gives annually to talented Canadians who are improving the lives of others worldwide.With Surface Medical the two young businessmen have developed and successfully commercialized CleanPatch, a medical product that works much like a Band-Aid to repair damaged hospital beds, preventing the spread of infection while saving health care facilities money to prematurely replace equipment.Chiacchia attended Bishop Carroll High School and went on to the University of Calgary where he earned Masters and Bachelors degrees in sciences.
After working with a Canadian drug development company he decided to learn more about the administrative side of business and received an MBA from Queens University.Chiacchia has a passion for exploring problems and ideas, and creating meaningful products. Through a relationship he developed with businessman Tom Collins, nurse Barbara Potter and chiropractor Jeff Schacter, he discovered many complaints were made about hospital beds.
Looking further, he found a remarkable statistic that Canadian hospitals are responsible for making 200,000 people sick every year. Health Canada estimates hospital-acquired infections are responsible for as many as 12,000 deaths and $1 billion in health-care costs annually.The four provided a research grant to graduate students.
They found that 47 per cent of the mattresses had damage and a number had pathogen that could cause a hospital-acquired infection, says Chiacchia.In 2010, Surface Medical was formed to address the problem. Lam was hired to help with product development.
His family is in Hong Kong where he returns most summers to help with his fathers business. Lam completed his undergraduate degree in molecular genetics at University of Alberta and then moved to Calgary where he received his Masters of Biomedical Technology.He and Chiacchia worked through hundreds of prototypes of varying materials to develop CleanPatch.
Two years of engineering and design resulted in the development of an adhesive film designed as a preventive, early-stage maintenance thats easily applied to a torn mattress.The Surface Medical office has clear, photographic evidence of shortcuts made in some institutions where spotted repairs have been made with the use of strip plasters or even duck tape.The peel-back product that had to undergo rigorous testing to achieve approval of the many regulatory bodies, has now been in circulation for over two years.
CleanPatch is being used in ambulatory care, acute care, long-term care facilities and seniors centres. Not yet in use across Canada, it has been welcomed in 450 hospitals. Its also used in the U.
S; the UK; Australia; New Zealand; Hong Kong and South Africa, while being tested in three other European countries.Chiacchia and Lam are deserving of the prestigious award that recognizes their passion for solving health problems. Today they are busy developing similar products to address surfaces related to other health-care concerns.
News and notesWhen Lisa Costello, CEO of Neals Yard Remedies Canada, opened her flagship store on 4th Street S.W. last year she told me she already had a second Calgary shop location in mind.
Friday, Oct. 29, is the date set to open her second store in Southcentre, providing Calgarians living in the south easy access to the award-winning products of the ever-growing green beauty industry.We knew there was a window of opportunity with the increase in demand for organic cosmetics and skin care products and our decision to bring the Neals Yard Remedies to Canada has been affirmed by the support given our Mission store, she says.
U.K.-based Neals Yard Remedies has more than 80 stores in 21 countries focused on ethical, organic beauty and health products.
Costellos growth plans will see 10 locations open across Canada in the next five years.David Parker appears Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Read his columns online at He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by e-mail at a