Ontario’s Bioscience Cluster: Tapping the Untapped Potential

The OBIO® 2012 industry consultation and survey built on knowledge gained from OBIO’s previous three years of consultations. The financial health of Ontario’s industry hasn't changed significantly from prior years. Most companies are pre-revenue (50 percent) and 47 per cent have annual revenues of less than $10 million. Companies report their financial runway is approximately 14 months and the majority (82 per cent) of those who have raised capital (61 per cent) in the last year have raised less than $2 million. Research and development consumes 46 per cent of working capital followed by marketing and sales which accounts for 34 per cent. Patent costs, clinical trial costs and costs to raise capital consume the balance.

Rather than purely provide a ‘state of the industry’ update, this year’s consultation undertook to explore the sector’s potential in healthier conditions brought about through the reduction of uncertainty largely related to insufficient financial resources. With a nod to professor Michael Porter’s (Harvard University) work on cluster strength (Figure 1), OBIO asked industry leaders to weigh in on the quality of the business environment, access to specialized risk capital and depth within the domestic human health sciences private sector.

Specifically, the survey sought to gauge companies’ progress and expansion through the creation of new jobs and the impact on key projects’ time to commercialization. Additionally, the 2012 consultation survey set out to demonstrate the potential impact of the adoption of policies by the provincial government aimed at improving the quality of the business environment.

Survey results confirmed that most roadblocks and challenges facing biotech companies are related to uncertainty and insufficient funding. Industry’s feedback from 56 of 150 invitees was presented by David J. Pye, Ph.D at OBIO’s Annual General Meeting in November, 2012.

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