Program Overview


CREATE-BEST is a graduate student training program funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) of Canada under the Collaborative Research and Training Experience (CREATE) program. BEST is short for Biomedical Engineering Smartphone Training.

CREATE-BEST provides training and employment-ready skills to engineering students to meet the needs of the growing mHealth marketplace.

What is mHealth?

mHealth is the practice of clinical healthcare and public health supported by mobile devices. This includes mobile device applications for collecting community and clinical health data; healthcare information delivery to practitioners, researchers, and patients; real-time patient monitoring; and direct provision of care via mobile technology.

Mission Statement

The CREATE-BEST program enhances graduate student training by providing employment ready skills and knowledge to meet the needs of the growing mHealth marketplace. The program provides essential learning opportunities for app creation, oral and written communication, collaboration and teamwork, ethics, regulatory systems, project management and adaptability, entrepreneurship, clinical experiences, and industry internship opportunities.

Program Objectives

Provide participants with skills to:

  • Conceive, design, and build mHealth apps.
  • Design and implement an evaluation protocol for apps.
  • Identify a commercialization pathway to bring a mHealth app to the appropriate market.
  • Communicate with various multi-disciplinary audiences to identify patient and clinical needs, obtain ethics approvals, end-user support, financial backing, etc.
  • Understand the regulatory environment for mHealth applications.

Program Requirements

In addition to the student’s academic program, CREATE-BEST participants are required to complete the following ten modules. Completion of these module will also entitle participants to a certificate of completion of the Biomedical Engineering Smartphone Training program, CREATE-BEST.

1. Advanced graduate one-semester courses
CREATE-BEST students are required to complete two of the below courses. Other advanced courses in biomedical engineering may also be considered. Please contact us if you have questions about possible alternatives.

  • BIOM5101/BMG5104 – Biological Signals: physiological data collection, filtering, analysis, visualization. Developed and taught by Dr. Adrian Chan (Carleton)

  • BIOM5405/BMG5305 – Pattern classification and experiment design: creating data-driven analytics. Developed and taught by Dr. James Green (Carleton)

  • The following courses may also be considered:
    • Biomedical Engineering
      • BIOM5010/BMG5112 – Introduction to Biomedical Engineering
      • BIOM5100/BMG5103 – Biomedical Instrumentation
      • BIOM5106/BMG5109 – Advanced Topics in Medical Instrumentation − Sensory Systems and Signal Processing
      • BIOM5200/BMG5105 – Biomedical Image Processing
      • BIOM5202/BMG5107 – Applications in Biomedical Image Processing
      • BIOM5301/BMG5301 – Biomechanics of Skeletal System, Motion and Tissue
      • BIOM5315/BMG5315 – Biorobotics
      • BIOM5400/BMG5317 – Medical Computing
      • BIOM5401/BMG5318 – Health Care Engineering
      • BIOM5403/BMG5111 – Advanced Topics in Medical Informatics and Telemedicine – M-health, E-health and telemedicine
    • Computer Science
      • COMP5308/CSI5102 – Medical Computing
      • COMP5107/CSI5185 – Statistical and Syntactic Pattern Recognition
      • COMP5108/CSI5126 – Algorithms in Bioinformatics
      • COMP5900/CSI5140 – Data Representation Learning
      • COMP5900/CSI5140 – Introduction to Machine Learning
    • Mathematics and Statistics
      • STAT5703/MAT5181 – Data Mining
    • Biology and Bioinformatics
      • BIOL5515/BNF5106 – Bioinformatics
2. Short courses on software development for mobile apps
Basic experience in mobile app development

  • Students from non-programming backgrounds (e.g. mechanical engineering students)
  • Topics include introduction to app development, sensors and bluetooth, camera and image processing, on-phone databases

Advanced experience in mobile app development

  • Students with advanced programming experience (e.g. students with degrees in software engineering or a related discipline) or completion of the basic-experience course
  • Topics include interacting with external databases/cloud, advanced graphics and gamification, quality assurance (version control, testing, bug tracking)
3. Immersion in the user environment via job shadowing
One or two-day periods shadowing a healthcare professional in medicine, nursing, therapy, dentistry, or other health-related discipline to better understand the healthcare environment and the potential benefits of novel mHealth apps. Out-of-town job shadowing experiences are limited to one day
4. Pitch–an–App contest
This one-day event provides an opportunity for students propose ideas for new mHealth applications. This portion is organized as an elevator-pitch contest, thereby helping students develop skills for providing brief and relevant communications of key ideas, in particular to multidisciplinary or non-technical audiences. Feedback will be provided by academic, industry, and healthcare experts. The best ideas may be chosen for future development as a thesis or in other CREATE-BEST activities.
5. User interface workshops
These workshop are delivered by industry experts on user interface design, universal design, human factors, and usability.
6. Design Sprint
A design sprint is “structured brainstorm based on design thinking and agile development”. Over five days, teams will:

  • Understand: The team shares quick 5 minute presentations on business goals, technology capability, user needs.
  • Define: Start to develop a focus and strategy by defining the central journey for the end-users.
  • Diverge: This phase encourages the team to generate as many ideas as possible before they commit to the best option. In this stage, everyone is encouraged to work individually to sketch ideas.
  • Decide: The team reviews all the ideas from the Diverge phase and vote for the best options. The team can then choose 1-3 ideas to prototype and test.
  • Prototype: Rapid prototyping allows you to test out your ideas without investing excessive time, money, or resources. Thereby, you will know earlier what aspects of your ideas fail and which have potential.
  • Validate: This final phase aims to answer the hardest question in design: “Is this idea any good?”. The team should invite potential users to test their ideas while they watch and take notes as these people interact with the prototype.
7. Ethics and Regulatory workshops
These workshops introduce the students to health ethics principles and requirements, thereby preparing the students for future evaluation of  their mHealth developments with patients and healthcare consumers. The regulatory systems topic will be presented by academic and industry experts with experience navigating regulatory approval processes (Health Canada, FDA, CE, etc.) around the world.
8. Entrepreneurship training
Workshops by uOttawa’s NSERC Chair in Engineering Entrepreneurial Design, Dr. Hanan Anis, include a bootcamp entrepreneurship weekend program that connects students across all faculties to encourage and promote entrepreneurship regardless of discipline of study, with prizes for best team-based pitch; a full semester graduate course ‘Introduction to Technological Entrepreneurship’, and other entrepreneurship learning opportunities. Students can also access the Startup Garage program at uOttawa, Lead to Win program at Carleton University, or Startup Launchpad program at McGill.

More details about entrepreneurship training and how you can apply can be found here.

9. Internships (4-6 months)
Three categories of student internships are possible:

  1. Industrial internship where students are employed and paid by a company.
  2. Entrepreneurial internship where students with an entrepreneurial spirit can advance their own startup while being paid through the CREATE program. Students start the internship with an idea and drive the idea into a business.
  3. Blended internship where students interested in entrepreneurship can work for a startup.

Some internships will be partially supported through the MITACS or Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) programs.

10. Research day
CREATE-BEST students will participate in a research day event to showcase their ideas and research, and further develop their technical communication skills. In addition to CREATE-BEST research day, students are encouraged to participate in other research events such as the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute Annual Research Day.
11. Professional Development
CREATE-BEST trainees are strongly encouraged to participate in workshops offered by Mitacs and the three host universities:

Note: Some of these modules can be considered complete if the participant have completed an equivalent activity.

Visit the News section to see upcoming activities organized by CREATE-BEST.


Three forms of funding are available to students:

  1. research stipends
  2. conference attendance, and
  3. program related travel.

Students should speak with their CREATE-BEST connected supervisor regarding their research stipend.

CREATE-BEST students will participate in national and international conferences. Students will disseminate their research, and the uniqueness and pedagogical value of the CREATE-BEST training program. This also provides students excellent networking opportunities. Funding is to provide partial financial support to each student (e.g., travel, accommodations, and registration).

Funding is available for students to travel between Montreal and Ottawa for the graduate course, workshops, symposium, retreat, and other program related activities and events.

Students should contact the program director or program coordinator for further information on conference and travel funding.