BLG LifeSigns Article: Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization - OBIO

Since its founding, the Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO®) has been engaged in strategy development, policy, and government relations activities to further development and commercialization of human health technology in Ontario. OBIO is recognized for its distinction in highlighting the role of industry, as well as government and public sector agencies in finding healthcare solutions and achieving common goals. In 2009, the CEO’s of Ontario’s life science companies came together in response to a crisis in which companies faced immense difficulties accessing capital and biotech infrastructure eroded causing significant challenges to industry development and commercialization of Ontario’s investment in research. Over 80 people in C-level positions participated in a process that launched OBIO and set the tone for the organization’s approach to planning, stakeholder engagement, consultation and prioritization. OBIO’s vision is to ensure a sustainable biosciences sector in Ontario that offers job creation, improved health outcomes and a more prosperous economy for the province.

During the 5 years OBIO has been operating, we have seen the fall out-from 2008, some recovery of the venture capital and Investment Banking sectors, an opening of the IPO window for biotech in the US, the introduction of Obama care and world-wide discussions on value for money in health innovations. We have seen changes in government and policy at both the provincial and federal level affecting tax credits, market access, technology procurement and dissemination and funds that invest in commercialization. The launch and renewal of programs like FedDev Ontario have directly helped Ontario bioscience companies to grow and create value. A number of government funded organizations such as HTX, EXCITE, MaRS Innovation and CCRM were established to address the commercialization gap for Ontario’s science and more recently international funds and angel groups have opened offices in the province.

OBIO has played a leadership role in recognizing the alignment between provincial healthcare priorities and innovation and was first to report on how innovation is key to the health and prosperity of Ontarians and must be adopted and disseminated to have impact. In 2011, OBIO led the province-wide Ontario Bioscience Economic Strategy Team (OBEST®) to develop a strategic vision and action plan. OBEST mobilized over 300 stakeholders and set objectives for capital access, human resources, innovation adoption and export, anchoring the industry, culture, and integration. OBIO currently focuses on three, high-impact initiatives:

• The OBIO Capital Access Advisory Program (CAAP™) develops Ontario’s earlier stage enterprises and builds their capabilities from a venture readiness perspectives. Under the direction of an international steering committee of venture capital experts, companies receive highly customized direction on goal setting and coaching on strategic execution. Ten companies competed successfully for a place in the 2014 program which kicked-off in April. CAAP receives financial support from the Government of Ontario and the private sector.

• OBIO’s Innovation Adoption Initiative is developing policy recommendations to strengthen Ontario’s capacity to deliver cost-effective, outcome-focused patient care as efficiently and innovatively as practicable while catalyzing commercialization in the health innovation sectors. In 2013, OBIO built a coalition of healthcare stakeholders who prepared an economic analysis and report on technologies that have been adopted in other jurisdictions but were delayed or failed to gain access to the Ontario healthcare system (read the Innovation Adoption report here) The project’s next step focuses on deriving and implementing a common and transparent definition of value and metrics that can be used for healthcare innovation adoption.

• OBIO’s Building Interconnectivity Initiative is facilitating connections between industry leaders through the Executive Exchange Series (EES) and events such as Insider Insight Dinners. OBIO’s non-partisan MPP Life Sciences Caucus and advocacy efforts have built understanding and connections between industry and the MOHLTC and other ministries.

The global human health bioscience sector is showing positive signs and continuing to gain momentum in 2014. Ontario needs to embrace policies and processes to become an active participant and derive commercial returns. OBIO is working with all stakeholders to move our key initiatives forward to meet this objective.

OBIO’s membership is rich with leaders from the health technology and biopharmaceutical industries, academic, legal and financial institutions. Our ability to deliver is due to the tremendous commitment of our supporters, sponsors, partners and volunteers. We are grateful for the engagement of such a dedicated group of individuals.

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