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The Health and Technology District – Putting Surrey on the International Map

From School to World Renowned Research Jobs all in the same city – Surrey, B.C. Canada is the place to be.

The Health and Technology District is one of BC’s most rapidly growing and dynamic new health tech sector located in Surrey’s emerging innovation ecosystem.  The District includes a series of high-tech buildings located and under expansion, immediately adjacent to Surrey Memorial Hospital.

The District, created by BC-based developer Lark Group, is a unique cluster of large, multinational and start-up companies, international partners, clinical and research facilities, scientists, educational institutions, innovators and entrepreneurs.  Most importantly, the District is where an abundance of healthcare environments, patients and clinicians are co-located, working in partnership to accelerate the implementation of technologies and solutions towards health care impacts and improvements.

Emmanuel Harley, Western Washington University student, Rowena Rizzotti, Vice President of Innovation and Technology, Arlo Virginillo and Aaron Siebenga, SFU students.
Emmanuel Harley, Western Washington University student, Rowena Rizzotti, Vice President of Innovation and Technology, Arlo Virginillo and Aaron Siebenga, SFU students.

At the District, students from high school as well as university students have opportunities to meet and work with some of the world’s leading innovators in the technology sector.

Aaron Siebenga and Arlo Virginillo are SFU students and Emmauel Harley is from Western Washington University. In the field of brain research there is lots of room for innovation and these students are completing their biology, neurology and science degrees with the intention of working in the research field of neuroscience.

Our tour guide was Lark Group’s Vice President of HealthCare and Innovation, Rowena Rizzotti.

“Opening in a few months will be City Centre 2 and City Centre 3 is right across the street and then all the way up to the Skytrain station will be City Centre’s 4 through 8. Over a million square feet, 15,000 jobs with lots in the tech sector, health care sector and other industry sectors. It is growing very rapidly. City Centre 2 that is about to open is already 75% spoken for. This is the future of Surrey.”

Rowena Rizzotti

Our young scientists really wanted to know how they could get into this building and get tied into the research and work that is being doing there. They especially wanted to know about opportunities for co-op. Rowena teased them with a new internship program, which can’t be announced yet but would offer opportunities for students to travel to Israel and learn from a nation that leads the world in entrepreneurial start-ups.



“I would suggest that you read a book called “Start Up Nation”. It is the story of Israel and how they had to be innovative to survive. One of the key points in that book is how beneficial immigrants were to the innovative process. This is very important to us in Surrey. We have a large immigration population here in Surrey that has that hunger and drive necessary for entrepreneurial thinking.“

Rowena Rizzotti

City Centre One is the first building in the Health and Technology District.  The District will have three towers all dedicated to the healthcare and sciences industry and has plans to develop eight buildings in total all within the same area.

At City Centre One there are doctors, specialists, cosmetic surgeons and research companies all having lunch together. Those doing the research can interface directly with those on the front line and in the centre of it all are students from Regent Christian Academy, a local private high school as well as students from SFU and other universities, all hands on learning from the best teachers in the world.

The Lark Group developed the Health and Technology District in anticipation of the rapidly growing health and technology sector in BC.  Upon completion, the District will consist of over 1 million square feet and over 15,000 jobs, and will contribute over $1.1 billion annually into BC’s economy.


We are working with all of our employers coming in to try to make sure that there is capacity there and that we have a hub coordinator there to help facilitate co-op programs so that we always have opportunities for students who want to come in and learn”

Rowena Rizzotti

Aaron , Arlo and Manny were able to test a new Brain Power Score app that is designed by HealthTechConnex to help you understand brain performance, and gives you an objective indicator by combining our brain activity and task performance into a simple, fast, and robust single number – the Brain Power Score.

This app will be available to the public. With the purchase of the  MUSE headset, you will be able to monitor your brain’s activity using this app. The researchers are currently running various groups of people through this system to try to find benchmarks to explore how daily habits and lifestyle behaviours may modify your brain performance and Brain Power Score.



Rowena Rizzotti wears many hats. She is the Vice President of Health Care and Innovation. She develops local and international partnerships. She is part of the Conference Board of Canada and the Council for Innovation and Commercialism. She looks for opportunity world wide to find partnerships.



The Importance of Partnerships

 “There is a lot of university and learning here. This is an integrated model. What is becoming important is the blending of Health and Technology sectors is because the Health sector benefits from the technology that is coming to market and that will change and influence all the ways we deliver health care. So having all the smart people and new innovations completely embedded with the health care system, that way they can co create. They can identify the problems and the smart people can develop the solutions and they can practice it right here in this interactive environment. Partnerships are very important to the District.

This all developed out of partnerships. It was a vision out of Surrey Memorial around how we could bring innovation to health care. But in order to do that we needed to partner with the academics, we needed to partner with the research community, we needed to partner with private enterprise.

Otherwise everybody sits with great ideas in their silos but they don’t actually collaborate. Collaboration means we identify the problem, brainstorm the solution, and then co-create it.

We found that by bringing all those entities together, that is what we were able to accomplish. We also discovered that by bringing everyone together, the experience was of benefit to the individual parties. The scientist benefited because sometimes they had such a great idea but it wasn’t necessarily ready for the end user. So having input from the end user was really helpful.

We want science that has an impact so we thought that by having everyone co-create together it would be faster, the science would be successful and we could validate it more quickly. It also helps the healthcare system understand what is going on in the market and seeing the opportunities. They identify their problems and we put them together with those who are creating the solutions.

It is all built on partnerships.”

Rowena Rizzotti

Judging by the partnerships working on this project, they have accomplished their misson. Lark Group is known for innovative thinking in building design and marketing. They have brought together groups of companies each of which merit their own article. The following are only some of the people working together for better health outcomes.



Other Business Sectors working within the Innovation Community.

The Health and Technology District isn’t just about Healthcare. They encourage other seemingly unrelated businesses to look at partnerships here.

City Centre One as the beginning of the Health and Technology District is an exciting cornerstone for Surrey’s mark on the world.  Concentration on the tech sector partnered with every aspect of creative thinking and supported by engineers, scientists, and front line field work is the key to the future.  The future truly does live here.

Companies currently located or partnering with City Centre One.


Breathtec Biomedical

Conquer Mobile

Bodywork by Cirulife

CBI Health Group

Croton Healthcare


Down Syndrome Research Foundation

Gluu Society


Helius Medical Technologies


Life Sciences Washington

Life Sciences BC

March of Dimes

Monarch House


Proof of Care Health


Regent Christian Academy

Rostrum Medical Innovation

Safe Software


Spring Accelerator


The Children’s Foundation

True North

Virtual Connect Tech


West Coast Centre for Learning

York Instruments

Feature Image: Surrey’s Health and Technology District. Credit: Lark Group/Stambol Studios

Shara Nixon
Shara Nixon loves to hear and repeat the stories of people’s lives and cultural viewpoints. She enjoys deep conversations and people who hold strong viewpoints. In her day job she is a social worker for business owners, helping them meet their goals. As an insomniac, she writes at night to clear her head. She is punctuationally challenged and uses too many !!!. She also believes in creative spelling as an art form. Her super-power is in connecting like-minded people and communicating with an intent to learn instead of respond. She writes about relationships, business savvy, online dating, finance and general things that piss her off. Shara believes that key to peace is education and connection!!!