Toward a bio-based future

Toward a bio-based future

The Canadian bio-economy has seen 12% growth over the last four years and contributes to over 7% of our national gross domestic product. At MaRS and across Canada this week, we’ve seen exciting opportunities for education and insight into supporting this critical sector.

National Biotechnology Week (NBW) events were held to raise awareness for the industry and to advocate for systemic change. Although biotech is a strong sector, it is also vulnerable: a dearth of investment capital, prohibitive regulatory hurdles, and more — all jeopardize the long-term growth of local jobs and wealth, and prevent valid solutions from reaching the market in a timely way. MaRS supports over 30 emerging biotech companies, and we strive to open markets to these innovations as much as possible.

  • Monday’s Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) Advocacy Workshop looked at Ontario’s Open for Business initiative, whose upcoming iteration is focused on the biotechnology sector. During the workshop portion, attendees prioritized various advocacy initiatives that LSO can drive forward to help small biotech companies leverage government resources and grow. The full report from the session will soon be posted on the LSO website.
  • BIOTECanada shared their “2012 National Bioeconomy Roundtable Report,” which discusses the strategic areas of focus for keeping Canada competitive in the international bio-economy that were identified in a meeting of government and industry at June’s BIO2012 Conference. Priority areas include improving Canada’s biotech infrastructure through continuing to modernize regulatory framework and attract investment; improving the availability and flexibility of risk capital, particularly for early-stage companies; supporting biotech’s advanced knowledge-based workforce through ongoing education and training; and building a coherent national vision and culture of biotech success.
  • Today’s LSO Knowledge and Networking Breakfast Forum at MaRS addressed “Government Policy and the Life Sciences Industry,” with Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion (who is a big biotech advocate!) and BIOTECanada’s own Cate McCready.
  • Last Friday’s MaRS Future of Medicine talk by Luc Marengere presented a new paradigm for life sciences venture funding that his firm, TVM Capital, is unveiling. They are building a funding model that will invest in early-stage, project-focused companies and help them progress to proof-of-concept, in conjunction with strategic pharma partners, in a highly cost-efficient way. This business model aims to prevent some downstream problems in the current venture model.

In addition, BIOTECanada has developed an action plan titled “The Canadian Blueprint: Beyond the Moose and Mountains,” which provides a strategy for how Canada can become a true leader in the bio-based economy. The plan focuses on three categories: people, capital and operating environment.

NBW educates and reminds the public about just how relevant biotechnology is to our everyday lives. As “The Canadian Blueprint” states, “To thrive in the inter-connected global economy, advanced economies like Canada’s must put ever greater emphasis on the knowledge economy.”

And that is just what we strive to do here at MaRS! What do YOU think?