Ottawa's CANImmunize forecasts global demand for vaccination-tracking platform

Kumanan Wilson
Dr. Kumanan Wilson is founder and CEO of Ottawa health-tech startup CANImmunize. File photo

An Ottawa-based startup that drew rave reviews for building Nova Scotia’s COVID-19 vaccination management system is partnering with a growing Vancouver health-tech firm to roll out its platform in other parts of the world.

CANImmunize said Thursday it’s signed an agreement with B.C.’s Wellteq Digital Health that will see the Ottawa firm integrate its vaccine-tracking software into Wellteq’s suite of products while adding the Vancouver company’s offerings to CANImmunize’s mobile and web apps. 

Publicly traded on the Canadian Securities Exchange, Wellteq makes software that delivers personalized health and wellness coaching to employees at big-name corporations that include investment banking giant UBS and global health insurance conglomerate Bupa.  

“I think this will be a way to allow us to take our product internationally,” says CANImmunize CEO Dr. Kumanan Wilson, who is also a researcher at the Ottawa Hospital.
“We’ve got 10 years of learning here and understand this space extremely well. We think we can really add value around the world in supporting the tracking of vaccines now that it’s becoming quite apparent to everybody how important this is.”

"I think this will be a way to allow us to take our product internationally."

Originally launched out of the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute in 2011, CANImmunize was spun off into its own company in 2019. Among its first major projects was designing a system for staff at Ottawa-based health organization Bruyère to schedule and track flu immunizations.

The fledgling firm rose to prominence late last year, when the Nova Scotia government chose it to create a software platform to manage the province’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

CANImmunize’s end-to-end system in the Atlantic province runs the gamut from scheduling initial appointments to setting up clinics and automatically booking second doses. The successful effort attracted a wave of media attention that instantly elevated the startup’s profile.

“We had our bumps along the way, but the reviews have been good,” Wilson says. “We’re very happy to be able to support people through a pretty difficult time.”

CANImmunize also has a contract to provide a similar service to the Yukon government and is working with provincial officials in P.E.I. to provide digital immunization records for residents there.

Wilson hopes to land more such deals with other governments. But he thinks an even bigger market opportunity lies in its CANImmunize@Work platform, a digital tool that helps employers track which workers are vaccinated and alert unvaccinated employees when cases of COVID-19 emerge in the workplace. 

Vaccination reminders

CANImmunize@Work provides a dashboard that lets employers easily keep tabs on who’s been immunized, allowing them to warn employees who haven’t received the jab to stay home if a positive case crops up at work. 

It also sends reminders to unvaccinated workers to get their shots – prompts the company says can help boost immunization rates by up to 20 per cent. 

Wilson says working with Wellteq gives his rapidly growing health-tech enterprise full access to a multinational customer base, noting the Vancouver company has a “broad reach” in the Asia-Pacific and European markets.

“Partners like Wellteq are ideal for us to work with because they’re already in that space,” he adds. “Our solution can complement theirs.”

The two-year-old startup, which has tripled its headcount to 30 since last fall, believes demand for its platform will continue long after the current crisis abates. Wilson says CANImmunize, which has received several million dollars in federal funding, is now looking for other financial backers as it expands its global footprint.

“The pandemic has changed how we view the workplace and occupational health and the importance of protecting workplaces,” he explains. “There will be a commercialization opportunity there.”