TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO®) released a report on actionable strategies to establish a world-leading bioscience industry in the province of Ontario. In January, OBIO brought together 50 industry executives, investors, academic, health system and Government leaders committed to working together to attract “sticky” capital and grow domestic health science companies that can serve a global market. OBIO released its recommendations arising from that summit and met with MPPs at Queen’s Park to discuss the steps needed to implement.
“Ontario recognizes the life sciences as a priority and is committed to supporting innovation and the sector’s competitiveness. The province welcomes OBIO’s report and its recommendations for new ways to anchor and build strong life science companies in Ontario,” said Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science.
What can Ontario do to become the home of world leading health science technology companies? That was the driving question behind the effort of OBIO to bring health science industry thought leaders together to examine ways to make Ontario a world leader in a $9 trillion global market.
“Over the past decade, Ontario has emerged as a player in the global health science and technology market by building a strong foundation of health science research and entrepreneurship, but despite our impressive success the picture remains incomplete. Ontario continues to struggle to anchor and grow these companies into global players,” said Gail Garland, CEO of OBIO.
OBIO has observed that in many other jurisdictions around the world that have strong and growing health science sectors a common key feature is an “anchor company” that attracts talent and capital and spins off other companies, research and investment. Ontario doesn’t yet have that company or companies that can make Ontario a world leader. The question becomes, how do we get one?
“The key driver is access to capital – and in particular, “sticky capital”. We need investments that not only grow companies, but also reinvest returns in new ventures. Ontario needs to build a health sciences economy that will facilitate capital investment, and generate returns from novel technologies and Ontario-based companies that can export to a global market,” said Michael Cloutier, OBIO Board Chair. “We need to move from a model of selling our early stage innovation assets, to one that invests and grows innovation assets within the province to a point where they can supply a global market.”
“As part of an Ontario-based medical device and technology company scaling in global markets, OBIO’s report outlines issues and recommendations critical to the future success of our economy,” said Peter Dans, CFO of Synaptive Medical Inc. “Implementing these ideas will create a bright future for Ontario and the companies working to scale health technologies here.”
The report is built around three challenge themes that led to specific recommendations. These themes were Innovation Pull, Adoption and Capital:
We must stimulate innovation growth by enabling global investors to accelerate the commercialization of novel intellectual property (IP) from Ontario’s research institutions. The summit and report recommends a set of best practices and standardized guidelines for IP commercialization based on how venture capital and enterprises approach investments in the health sciences.
To encourage adoption of innovative technology, the Ontario health system - government, hospitals, and healthcare providers – need procurement processes and a cultural shift that values the adoption of innovative technologies. The summit and report recommends a move to value based procurement and the promotion of tangible examples of success to provide legitimacy and assure stakeholders throughout the system. The Office of the Chief Health Innovation Strategist in Ontario is doing this through its Health Technologies Fund by bringing together the health system and innovative technology companies and OBIO fully supports this work. Taking it one step further, OBIO is calling for certain hospitals in Ontario to be designated as “Early Adopter/Innovation Hospitals” to accelerate these positive advances.
On the important question of access to capital, Canadian companies need to attract investment to the region from global partners who recognize our strong health sciences economy. Investors need to see innovative companies that can scale, serve a global market, and continue to adapt to the evolving needs of the marketplace. To achieve this, OBIO supports “Business Development Grants” which is funding from federal and provincial sources made available to companies to assist them in attending international conferences and to engage in new international markets. These programs should continue to be supported and expanded, and companies should be encouraged to engage with these programs and resources. Business mentorship programs, such as OBIO’s Business Commercialization Programs (OBIO CAAP®) can also serve a critical role in helping Ontario entrepreneurs take their technology to the global market and access capital.
“OBIO was at Queen’s Park to meet MPPs from all parties. These issues and these recommendations are not partisan and all Members should get behind this industry,” said Bill Walker, MPP for Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound. “Ontario’s future jobs and prosperity will be found in industries like health and life science.”
Catherine Fife, MPP for Kitchener-Waterloo and NDP Caucus critic for Economic Development, Research & Innovation added: “The community I represent is renowned for its tech and innovation ecosystem which was made possible by successful anchor companies in Kitchener-Waterloo. Their world-class products and global success helped create the conditions for growth and prosperity that continue today. Ontario needs anchor companies in the health sciences because the benefits for communities across the province will be enormous.”
Health Tech Showcase Companies that participated in OBIO’s advocacy day at Queens Park:
Bausch + Lomb
Conavi Medical Inc.
Therapeutic Surface Solutions, a Division of Blake Medical Group Inc.
The Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO®) is a not-for-profit, membership-based organization engaged in the development of an integrated health innovation economy for Ontario and one that will become a global leader in providing health technology products and services to the international marketplace. OBIO advances this goal through advocacy, promotion and strategic leadership and via collaborative partnerships with industry, academia, the health system and government. For more information, visit www.obio.ca and follow OBIO on Twitter @OBIOscience.