Fabrizio Chiacchia and Iwain Lam: CleanPatch

This article was originally written and submitted as part of a Canada 150 Project, the Innovation Storybook, to crowdsource stories of Canadian innovation with partners across Canada. The content has since been migrated to Ingenium’s Channel, a digital hub featuring curated content related to science, technology and innovation.

An estimated 220,000 Canadians a year pick up infections at healthcare facilities, with hospital-acquired infections (HAI) identified as the cause of up to 12,000 deaths and $1 billion in health-care costs annually. Typically, hospitals and clinics have approached this challenge by investing in more staff and supplies to keep surfaces clean. Fabrizio Chiacchia and Iwain Lam’s pioneering approach involves developing products to prevent hospital beds, stretchers and other surfaces from becoming contaminated and spreading disease.

Fabrizio’s initial research found that 47 percent of beds in one healthcare facility alone had damage, and a number of them had a pathogen that could cause a hospital-acquired infection. He formed Surface Medical Inc. with several partners to address the problem and hired Iwain to help with product development.

The pair drew on their shared backgrounds in biomedical product development and business to work through hundreds of prototypes of varying materials to come up with CleanPatch. CleanPatch is an adhesive film designed as an early-stage maintenance tool that can be easily applied, much like a Band-Aid, to torn surfaces on hospital equipment to extend their use and prevent contamination.

The CleanPatch, marketed through Surface Medical Inc., is proving to be a costeffective way to help reduce HAI. Priced at roughly a twentieth of the cost of a new mattress, it is now in use in hundreds of hospitals in seven countries.

Mr. Chiacchia and Mr. Lam were 2015 Manning Innovation Award winners. At the 2015 Manning Innovation Symposium, hosted by the University of Saskatchewn, Mr. Chiacchia shared their journey of innovation and some of the important lessons along the way.

2015 Innovation Award Winners - Fabrizio Chiacchia and Iwain Lam - CleanPatch

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Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation

Since 1982, The Ernest C. Manning Awards Foundation has been creating a culture of innovation in Canada by discovering, celebrating and rewarding Canadian innovators of all ages. We tell the stories of Canadian innovators who are improving the lives of Canadians and others around the world through their commercialized innovations.