Week of June 17, 2002
  Snapshot from the Field
Toronto, Ontario skyline
Toronto, Ontario skyline
Ontario Fund
To Lure
Biotech Players

by MARK AREND, Site Selection Editor

TORONTO — The Province of Ontario, which recently played host to 15,000 biotechnology industry participants, has announced a $51 million (Canadian) Biotechnology Strategy that is designed to make Canada's largest province a leading location for companies in this rapidly growing industry. Ernie Eves, Ontario's Premier, and Jim Flaherty, Minister of Enterprise, Opportunity and Innovation, introduced the fund on June 7 in Toronto as that city was preparing to welcome delegates to the BIO2002 conference, which opened June 9.
        “Making Ontario a world-class leader in biotechnology will lead to a stronger economy, leading-edge health research and improved health services for the people of this province,” noted Eves at the fund's introduction. Added Flaherty, “Research is a top priority for us, because it can help us address health issues while creating new jobs and increasing our global competitiveness.”
  • The Biotech Strategy features several components, including: CA$20 million for the MARS (medical and related sciences) Discovery District, which is a region in downtown Toronto in which a community of medical and scientific researchers will take shape, ultimately creating up to 6,000 jobs.
  • CA$30 million of the fund will be devoted to creating a Cluster Innovation Program that will generate up to 30,000 jobs across Ontario. The program provides matching funds up to 50 percent of the cost of developing regional innovation plans as well as grants to support commercialization centers, research parks and regional innovation networks.
  • The Ontario Health Technology Innovation Service, with an initial infusion of CA$750,000, will support new product development and expand export opportunities.
  • And CA$450,000 will fund a Bioprocessing Institute for the development of therapeutic proteins.
        Other features of the Biotech Strategy include a commitment to pursuing opportunities to double or triple research and development and other biotech investments in the province; a proposed fuel-tax exemption for renewable biodiesel fuels; and a review of potential tax incentives, including improved access to venture capital.
        “This strategy is confirmation that the government is prepared to acknowledge its role as a facilitator, as promoting connectivity and funding in terms of research and development - as a major player,” noted Flaherty in an interview with Site Selection Editor Mark Arend. “We are very much participating in the promotion and enhancement of the biotech cluster in Toronto,” he added, referring in part to the MARS Discovery District. “That's about creating a destination so that when people come and visit us, whether they are venture capitalists or scientists or private-sector business people, there will be a [location] for them to go to.”
        Flaherty says the challenge before him and his counterparts globally is to communicate to constituents the many benefits of biotech industry expansion in their jurisdictions. “It is an essential element of economic growth [that brings about] a good standard of living and quality public service. Those of us who are elected have our work cut out for us.”
        In May, the Ontario government invested CA$1.7 million in Canada's first probiotics research center at the Lawson Health Research Institute at St. Joseph's Health Care, in London, Ont. Probiotics is the replenishment of so-called “good bacteria” to counteract disease. The investment is made through the Ontario Research Development Challenge Fund, which draws on financial support from the private sector and research institute partners. Since 1998, Ontario has invested more than CA$121 million in research and development in the London area.

sf0617bsf0617b?GROUP=SPON_SSInsider" ©2002 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.