QEII Foundation announces $1-million donation from Irving Shipbuilding Inc. for spinal robotics at the QEII Health Sciences Centre

We are celebrating $1 million for atlantic canada's first spinal robot

(Halifax, Nova Scotia – Wednesday, January 31, 2024) Irving Shipbuilding is committed to investing in projects that reach beyond their shipyard and have a life-changing impact for their community. Today, this leading Canadian shipbuilding organization announced a $1-million donation to the QEII Foundation that is the catalyst for introducing spinal robotics at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.  

With the support from this lead donation, the QEII was the first health centre in Canada to perform a patient procedure using the robot, and the only health centre in Atlantic Canada to house the technology.

In recognition of Irving Shipbuilding Inc.’s generous $1-million donation, patients and families accessing spinal surgery each year will be cared for in the Irving Shipbuilding Spinal Robot Surgical Suite.

When it comes to the brain, spine and spinal cord, millimeters can mean the difference between life and death or being able-bodied or infirmed.

Robotic-assisted technology provides enhanced guidance for incredibly precise and accurate human controlled surgeries. 

The advanced technology, called the MAZOR™ X Stealth Edition, combines an innovative robotic arm and an advanced surgical navigation system to help perform some of the most exact, personalized surgeries possible.

The technology is used for patients needing spinal implants — like screws and rods — for degenerative conditions. Benefits can include:

  • shorter hospital stays, fewer infections, less blood loss, and quicker recoveries.
  • less pain and reliance on pain medication after surgery.
  • reduced need for revisions, meaning fewer patients may require a second surgery in the future, which leads to decreased demands on the healthcare system.
  • recruiting and retaining top talent in spinal surgery and advanced robotics.
  • igniting world-leading research in collaboration with industry partners and other Canadian centres.

Through a collaborative research program enabled by Irving Shipbuilding’s gift, Nova Scotia Health will assess the feasibility, efficacy, and safety of robotics in spinal surgery in Canada and will explore the patient care continuum, including detailed surgical planning and early hospital discharge.

The MAZOR X spinal robot is believed to be the most significant change in Canadian spinal care in the last 15 years.

The QEII Foundation is actively raising $3 million to fully fund the spinal robot technology for patient care and contribute to the leading-edge research and evaluation accompanying it.

With more than 2,400 shipbuilders at Irving Shipbuilding, this $1-million donation is helping ensure its employees, employees’ families and friends, and community at large has the best surgical care available when needed.



“As a Maritime company, we’re proud to be supporting the communities where our employees live and work. The Irving Shipbuilding Spinal Robotic Surgical Suite will help patients and families to access some of the most exact, personalized spinal surgeries possible, while igniting world-class research in collaboration with experts in the industry across the country.
     - Jim Irving, co-CEO, J.D. Irving, Limited, and CEO of Irving Shipbuilding

Irving Shipbuilding is making healthcare history by helping us introduce spinal robotics at the QEII. Their generosity is truly the catalyst that is advancing surgical care and leading the research that will set standards across Canada. We are extremely grateful to Irving Shipbuilding for believing in our vision to transform care at the QEII and for inspiring others to join us.
     - Susan Mullin, president and CEO, QEII Foundation

Robotic assistance is the wave of the future, and we are on the front of that wave thanks to Irving Shipbuilding. Having this spinal robotics technology at the QEII really adds to the development of a robotics centre of excellence and gives us the opportunity to advance care locally and lead national research and training around innovations in spinal robotics. This will have life-changing impact for patients.
     - Dr. Sean Christie, neurosurgeon, QEII Health Sciences Centre

In our relentless pursuit of excellence, Nova Scotia proudly takes the lead in advancing surgical robotics in Canada. This collaboration not only guarantees Nova Scotian’s access to cutting-edge procedures but also proudly signifies our status as pioneers, being the first in Canada to embark on groundbreaking initiatives. It is with profound gratitude to our partners at Irving Shipbuilding and the QEII Foundation for making this possible. Together, we are shaping a future where innovation meets transformative impact.
    - Gail Tomblin Murphy, VP Research, Innovation, Discovery, Nova Scotia Health

Quick Facts


  • Robot-assisted surgery enables movements so tiny and precise that they would not be possible with the human hand alone. This can result in many benefits for patients and our healthcare system including less pain, less damage to healthy tissues and structures, shorter recovery times and fewer complications.
  • Irving Shipbuilding Inc. donated $1 million to the QEII Foundation to support spinal robotics technology and research at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.
  • In recognition of Irving Shipbuilding Inc.’s $1-million donation the spinal surgical suite at the QEII has been named the Irving Shipbuilding Spinal Robot Surgical Suite. 
  • The MAZOR™ X Stealth Edition has a navigation system that uses 3D cameras and anatomy recognition algorithms to develop a 3D simulation of the robotic procedure, which can be planned and visualized prior to the actual surgery or in real-time in the operating room.
  • The surgeon is able to completely tailor the procedure to the patient and operate in smaller, more precise areas of the spine.
  • Nova Scotia Health’s Innovation Hub and Perioperative Services team have collaborated with neurosurgeon, Dr. Sean Christie, the QEII Foundation, and Medtronic, an industry partner and one of the world’s leading medical technology companies, to become the first centre in Canada to use this technology, which holds the potential to improve health outcomes for Nova Scotians.
  • The QEII Foundation is actively raising funds to support the $3-million fundraising goal to fully fund Canada’s first spinal robot equipment and contribute to the related research and evaluation.
    • This $3-million project is part of the QEII Foundation’s $100 million We Are campaign to transform health care through the QEII Health Sciences Centre.
  • The QEII Foundation has played a major leadership role in introducing and expanding surgical robotics at the QEII.  
    • The QEII Health Sciences Centre became the first location in Atlantic Canada with a surgical robot in 2019 — when robotics technology transformed urological and gynecological cancer surgeries. The $8.1-million initiative was entirely funded by QEII Foundation donors and has since expanded to include ear, nose, and throat (ENT) cancer surgeries.
    • In 2022, Nova Scotia Health’s QEII Health Sciences Centre Division of Orthopedic Surgery became the second in Canada to use robotic technology for orthopedic surgery. This technology and its accompanying research are also funded by QEII Foundation donors.
    • In 2023, a gift in a will to the QEII Foundation fully funded a first-of-its-kind neurosurgery robotics system for patients facing uncontrolled, debilitating seizures.
  • This latest expansion of surgical robotics to now include spinal surgery will help further establish the QEII Health Science Centre’s reputation for innovation and excellence, establishing it as a Canadian leader in innovative surgical robotics, research, and care.
  • The goal of the collaborative research program at Nova Scotia Health will be to position the QEII Health Sciences Centre as a leader in surgical robotics and provide additional evidence for the research community.


Media Inquiries

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