The Canadian Shield celebrates one-year anniversary of PPE manufacturing and protecting Canadians amidst pandemic
The award-winning company founded amidst the pandemic reflects on its accomplishments and milestones over the past year
WATERLOO, ON | March 18, 2021 — One year ago, following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted life as we knew it, The Canadian Shield was founded. Now, the Waterloo-based company is an award-winning, advanced manufacturer specializing in the design and production of personal protective equipment (PPE) products. Originating from education technology company InkSmith, The Canadian Shield has been Canada’s embodiment of ‘pivoting’ in their response to community need.
It all started on March 20th, when a local doctor let the InkSmith team know that Waterloo Region was short 10 thousand face shields for frontline healthcare workers. In the month that followed, that number grew to nearly one million face shields for Ontario and 11 million for Canada. In order to scale production, the team at InkSmith grew rapidly — from under 10 people to nearly 330 in just a couple of months, while simultaneously opening a 50,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Waterloo. In June, the team began manufacturing ASTM medical masks to help fill another critical gap in Canada’s supply chain. By September, The Canadian Shield had manufactured 16 million face shields and donated nearly one million to frontline workers across the country.
Over the course of the past year, The Canadian Shield has invested heavily in manufacturing and automation to help build the Canadian medical device and PPE industry from the ground up. Earlier this week, the company announced their development of Made-in-Canada medical mask manufacturing automation lines and machine vision systems equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) technology capabilities that will drive their cost-competitiveness. These systems are also being marketed for sale to producers in other countries around the world looking to create sustainable and competitive infrastructure.
Looking ahead to the future, The Canadian Shield will continue to build on the momentum of the last year, positioning themselves on the cutting edge of the medical device manufacturing industry and working towards sustainable Made-in-Canada solutions. With automation and innovation at the forefront, The Canadian Shield looks forward to continuing expansion of their medical device portfolio and providing competitive critical PPE and medical device products to sustain Canada’s manufacturing industry. In doing so, the company will positively impact economic development across the country and ensure that Canadian frontline workers have access to the resources needed to stay safe well into the future.
While the team has made some incredible progress this past year, Canadian PPE manufacturers still face barriers to entry in accessing the domestic market, explains Founder and CEO Jeremy Hedges. Hedges sees this an opportunity for government and procurement entities, “With the right reform, there’s a path here to not just open up the market for PPE producers, but to create a cornerstone medical device manufacturing industry that builds our economy and insulates one of our most critical supply chains.”
Last week, The Canadian Shield announced a strategic partnership with Canadian Hospital Specialties, a national distributor of medical and surgical products with more than 70 sales representatives across the country. This alliance has the potential to enable major growth for The Canadian Shield and a faster path to expanding their acute care product lines.
“This past year has been an incredible journey and I couldn’t be more proud of our team and what we’ve been able to accomplish in such a whirlwind period of time. Waterloo Region is a special place and this community helped make our story possible. Special thanks to the team at Communitech who have been there every step in our journey,” said Hedges.
For more information about The Canadian Shield and a detailed timeline of events, please visit www.canadianshieldppe.ca.
ABOUT THE CANADIAN SHIELD
The Canadian Shield is a Waterloo Region based advanced manufacturing company that specializes in the design and production of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and the public.