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Pandemic pivot: Dozens of York Region companies retool to answer call for made-in-Ontario solutions

Ever since the province put out a call to action in March for “made-in-Ontario solutions” for critical supply shortages, York Region companies have stepped up in droves to respond.

Manufacturers are repurposing production lines to manufacture medical gear and supplies, while tech and biotech companies are providing innovative solutions and research to assist front-line responders and the government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Companies are stepping out of their comfort zones, pumping out new products using existing resources. The mobilization includes everything from beauty and beer companies rolling out much-needed hand sanitizer to businesses 3D printing face and sneeze shields.

Automotive, aerospace and power generation parts industries have pivoted to supply much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE), while tech companies are repurposing some of their capabilities and offering AI solutions for free to health care and government institutions.

“Ontario’s businesses stepped up at the outset of this crisis, not only to keep their workers and customers safe, but to come forward with innovative ideas and solutions that represent the best of the Ontario spirit,” said Vic Fedeli, minister of economic development, job creation and trade, during the province’s briefing held on May 14.

To assist companies looking to provide tech solutions or retool their operations in order to manufacture essential medical supplies and equipment – including gowns, coveralls, masks, face shields, testing equipment and ventilators – the province launched the $50-million Ontario Together Fund, which supports the development of proposals submitted by businesses and individuals through the Ontario Together web portal.

“This new website is truly a made-in-Ontario approach, with Ontario businesses helping Ontario businesses,” Fedeli added.

In addition to the province, the Government of Canada and the National Research Council of Canada are looking for businesses that can support the COVID-19 response.

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