QEII Foundation announces $1-million donation to support innovation grants for healthcare scientists

Susan Crocker (left) and John Hunkin (right)

(Halifax, Nova Scotia – Thursday, November 23, 2023) John Hunkin and Susan Crocker believe in the power of innovative research to make a hospital system great. That’s why this forward-thinking couple has donated $1 million to the QEII Foundation to create the Innovation Catalyst Fund to accelerate health transformation at the QEII Health Sciences Centre through innovative research.

A collaboration with the Nova Scotia Health Innovation Hub, the Innovation Catalyst Fund will rapidly fast-track innovative concepts into practice by providing grants to QEII clinicians and physicians for their ideas that have the potential to transform local care and provide global solutions that will improve the lives of patients.

Solutions centred around refining systems, building prototypes, performing beta trials and simulations, launching field studies, and demonstrating proof of concept.

John and Susan’s generous $1-million gift will allow a minimum of $100,000 each year for 10 years to be awarded in grants for medical innovation. Their gift is also inspiring others to contribute allowing for the inaugural year to grant $200,000 to deserving innovators.

Those innovators are pitching their ideas at the first ever Innovation Den, a Dragons Den type format, on November 23, 2023. A group of esteemed Den Judges will decide the winners for six awards that are up for grabs, including the top award of $100,000 called the New Path Award for Health Innovation.

Thanks to John and Susan and the power of philanthropy, healthcare research and innovation will accelerate, ultimately impacting the care patients and families receive.

UPDATE: Read about the winners here! 



The QEII has the size, scale, and talent to make a huge impact on medical innovation. There is already a vast amount of leading research and innovation happening here but there is still great opportunity to introduce more innovation and give it visibility so that the community knows what’s happening.
     - John Hunkin, QEII Foundation donor

This is just the start. It’s about building QEII profile and showcasing some of the ways donors can participate in driving medical innovation. I hope others are inspired to join us. It’s so important to support research especially in the early stage. Support attracts more support, builds momentum, and fosters opportunity for big vison and big impact.
     - Susan Crocker, QEII Foundation donor

John Hunkin and Susan Crocker are true philanthropists who have a vision to transform health care at and through the QEII Health Sciences Centre. Their $1-million donation will have a lasting impact – for the projects funded this year and for the projects to come in the years ahead. This is an incredible opportunity for both emerging and experienced researchers, and for the patients who will benefit from their ideas for healthcare improvements.
     - Susan Mullin, president and CEO, QEII Foundation

We are continuing to make innovation count. The QEII is full of innovative thinkers and leaders who are intensely questioning what we can do differently to ensure patient centred care truly drives the future. These Innovation Catalyst Grants will provide funding to test and try an idea. To start to scale a solution that is seeing success. To gain the traction needed to operationalize a procedure or process that could have life-changing impact.
    - Dr. Gail Tomblin Murphy, Vice President of Research, Innovation and Discovery, and Chief Nurse Executive, Nova Scotia Health

Quick Facts

  • John Hunkin and Susan Crocker donated $1 million to create the Innovation Catalyst Fund, which will award a minimum of $100,000 each year for 10 years to deserving QEII leaders and researchers.
    • 2023 is the inaugural year for the grants and with additional support from the community, $200,000 in funding is being awarded.
  • John Hunkin is no stranger to supporting start-up medical innovation. As a founding member of Angels Den, which is a nine-year event supporting St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, John saw an opportunity here in Nova Scotia to bring forward a similar concept and presence, when he and Susan became full time residents of the east coast.
  • Innovation Catalyst Grants will be awarded at the QEII Foundation’s Innovation Den, chaired by Cove CEO Melanie Nadeau. The Den is bringing together some of the brightest, local scientists who have brilliant ideas to push healthcare forward. Six Den Presenters will be pitching their ideas to a panel of Den Judges, which include:
    • Dr. Colin Audain, anesthesia site chief, QEII’s Victoria General Hospital site, and QEII Foundation Board Director
    • Cathy Bennett, founding and general partner, Sandpiper Ventures
    • Chère Chapman, co-founder and CEO, Ardea Outcomes
    • Travis McDonough, founder and president, The Program A
  • Projects are evaluated on several key factors including a clear objective with measures in place for evaluation, scalability potential, and overall ability to advance clinical care and patient outcomes.
  • Grants available include:
    • New Path Award for Health Innovation, $100,000
    • Accelerator Award for Health Innovation, $50,000
    • Rising Innovator Award for Health, $20,000
    • Ones to Watch, $10,000 (three awards available)


Media Inquiries

Tanya MacLean
QEII Foundation
902 489 5664 | Tanya.MacLean@qe2foundation.ca