Hosted by Kingston Economic Development and Queen’s University, the third annual Kingston-Syracuse Pathway Conference was held on April 9th at the Delta Hotel in downtown Kingston.

In a full day of sessions and panel discussions, the third annual Kingston Syracuse Pathway (KSP) Conference kicked off with opening remarks by the City of Kingston’s Mayor Bryan Paterson and Kingston Economic Development’s CEO Donna Gillespie. This year’s conference theme was “Advancing health and economic development through research and innovation.”

Panelists during the Big Data discussion at the KSP conference
Panelists discussing big data and  computing in medicine. From left to right, Paige Beddoe, Paul Yacci, Kelly Nolan (moderator) and Dan Desjardins.

Physicians researchers, and administrators from Queen’s University, the Kingston ecosystem and Upstate New York came together to share insights into the evolving landscape of healthcare including the current status of technology available, big data and computing in medicine, and what the future will look like around funding, regulations, and policies.

Dr. Elizabeth Eisenhauer, Professor Emerita, Department of Oncology and Department of Medicine, Kingston Health Sciences Centre and winner of the Canada Gairdner Wightman Award (2021) provided the keynote address on the topic of harnessing innovation to solve 21st century challenges in acute care hospitals.

“Three years into this conference, it is very apparent how important discussions and knowledge sharing has become for all of the participants,” says Mike Wells, Partnerships Development Officer with Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation (QPI), a key organizer of the event. “There were important connections and discussions that unfolded amongst panelists and participants, which will have far reaching benefits for the future of healthcare and patient care while advancing cross border research, innovation, and economic development.”

Since the inaugural conference in Kingston in 2021, several startups who have previously participated in the showcase or pitch competitions have achieved success. David Mankiewicz, CenterState Corporation for Economic Opportunity moderated a panel of KSP collaboration success stories, which included Malcolm Eade from Spectra Plasmonics, a Queen’s IP-licensed company; Irsa Wiginton from mDETECT (winner of the 2022 KSP Pitch Competition), a Queen’s spinoff company from Dr. Christopher Mueller’s lab; Lorenzo D’Amico from Triton Bio (winner of the 2023 KSP Pitch Competition); and Kamran Ayagh from PapEasy, an American company that recently expanded into Kingston in October 2023.

Queen’s Partnerships and Innovation moderated two talks in the afternoon. Kelly Nolan, Senior Director, Research and Innovation Partnerships led the discussion on big data and computing in medicine with Dan Desjardins (Distributive), Paul Yacci (DataCicada) and Paige Beddoe (Queen’s Centre for Advanced Computing).

Panelists during the discussion of the role of genomics at the KSP conference
Michael Wells (left) moderating a panel with Drs. Harriet Feilotter and Frank Middleton, discussion the role of genomics in science and clinical care during the KSP Conference.

Michael Wells facilitated discussion on the role of genomics in science and clinical care with Drs. Harriet Feilotter, (Queen’s Pathology and Molecular Medicine) and Frank Middleton (SUNY Upstate Medical University, Neuroscience and Physiology).

Wrapping up the day, James McLellan, Professor and Academic Director of the Dunin-Deshpande Queen’s Innovation Centre emceed the pitch competition for both Canadian and US-based health science start-up companies. Five entrepreneurs presented a wide range of innovations: Vida Nova VLE, Azimuth Biologics, BiRed Imaging, OPTT Health, and Smart BioMedical. For their patent-pending Smart Drain technology, a device designed to reduce deaths and complications from pneumothorax treatment, Smart BioMedical took home the top prize of the pitch competition of $5,000.

"The thought-provoking dialogues covering research and innovation topics related to current and future health care challenges that happened both on and off the stage were incredible,” says Jim Banting, Assistant Vice-Principal (Research). “The organizers should really be commended for putting together a high-quality roster of panelists and attendees. I look forward to seeing some great collaborations and outcomes from this.”

Established in 2018, the Kingston-Syracuse Pathway is a cross border partnership that provides companies with innovative and easy solutions to help them grow into the international markets. The cities of Kingston and Syracuse are geographically linked by proximity and shared economic interests. Both regions boast world-class academic and research institutions, as well as vibrant innovative ecosystems. Following the lifting of pandemic restrictions, the conference came about as a way to revitalize the collaborative opportunities for the partners of the agreement.

The Kingston-Syracuse Pathway continues to explore ways these two regions can encourage collaboration and innovation. For more on the partnership you can visit the Kingston Economic Development website.