Articles and Reports

Federal Budget Misses Opportunity to Scale and Grow Health Science Companies

The 2016 Federal Liberal budget contains funding to support a much needed Innovation Agenda and promises to build globally competitive companies. At the same time the majority of this funding is directed to incubators and accelerators, granting councils and public institutions to support basic research. In order to compete in the $9 trillion global health science economy, Canada needs to devote financial resources to health science companies at the next stage of development by investing in scale up, job creation and revenue generation. 

OBIO Celebrates Five Years Advancing Ontario's Human Health Technology and Bioscience Ecosystem

Since its foundation in 2009, the Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO®) has been engaged in strategy development, policy and government relations activities to enable the successful development and commercialization of human health technology in Ontario through investment, strategic alliances, stakeholder engagement and industry promotion. OBIO led the Ontario Bioscience Economic Strategy Team (OBEST®) in 2011, in developing a province-wide strategic vision to support the growth and viability of Ontario’s bioscience industry. OBEST has mobilized over 300 Province-wide stakeholders and their organizations, including entrepreneurs, representatives of small, medium and multinational enterprises (SMEs and MNEs), finance specialists, investors, researchers, educators, consultants, government representatives, attorneys, accountants and healthcare professionals. OBEST set objectives around capital, capabilities/people, innovation adoption and export, anchoring industry, industry culture, and integration. The 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.

OBIO has had a successful track record implementing OBEST®. We have established and funded programs that achieve results, and address the priority goals that were originally identified by our stakeholders. OBEST currently focuses on three, high-impact initiatives: Access to Capital, Innovation Adoption and Interconnectivity.

The OBIO Capital Access Advisory Program (CAAP™) is an Access to Capital initiative. CAAP is designed to hasten the development of Ontario’s earlier stage enterprises and enhance their profiles from a venture readiness perspective. After a highly successful pilot year in 2013, OBIO issued an open call for applications for an expanded program. Ten companies competed successfully for a place in the program this year and the 2014 program kicked-off in April. CAAP receives financial support from the Government of Ontario and the private sector.

The goal of OBIO’s Innovation Adoption Initiative is to recommend policy avenues that strengthen the province’s capacity to deliver cost-effective, outcome-focused care for patients as efficiently and innovatively as practicable while catalyzing commercialization for the therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics and health information technology (health IT) sectors. During 2013 OBIO successfully built a healthcare industry coalition, consulted with Industry and government on challenges to the adoption of innovative healthcare technologies in Ontario and prepared an economic analysis of innovative technologies that have been adopted in other parts of the world but were delayed or failed completely to gain access to the Ontario healthcare system. The outcome is contained in OBIO’s 2013 report entitled “Realizing the Promise of Healthcare Innovation in Ontario.” 

OBIO is recognized for its distinction in highlighting the role of industry, as well as government, in pursuing common goals for improved and sustainable healthcare. In 2014, OBIO has continued to advocate on this issue through networks and public forums and was a title presenter at the Toronto Regional Board of Trade in February. The project’s next step focuses on deriving and implementing a common and transparent definition of value for healthcare innovation adoption.

OBIO’s Building Interconnectivity Initiative connects individuals, companies and organizations dedicated to advancing Ontario’s health science sector. OBIO’s membership is rich with industry leaders from biopharmaceutical, therapeutics, medical device, diagnostics, SMEs, MNEs, and contract research, as well as academic, legal and financial institutions. OBIO is facilitating connections between industry leaders and across professions through the membership and Executive Exchange Series (EES) and events such as Insider Insight Dinners.

OBIO’s ability to deliver on so many different initiatives is due to the tremendous commitment of our many supporters, sponsors, partners and volunteers who are fully invested in building a thriving bioscience industry in Ontario. We are grateful for the engagement of such a dedicated group of individuals and look forward to their ongoing support.

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.

Download the article in PDF here.

Building a Fully Functional Ecosystem for Human Health Sciences in Ontario - OBIO Article in Onboard Magazine

ASK THE EXPERTBuilding a Fully Functional Ecosystem for Human Health Sciences in Ontario

By Gail Garland BSc. MBA C. Dir, President & CEO, Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO)

"Understanding Health Care Priorities examines aligning industry capabilities with government priorities to address the challenges facing the Ontario health care system."

Q. For the last two years, OBIO has successfully implemented OBEST. How did you do it and what have you learned? A. OBEST was developed to address the need for an industry-led plan to build a fully functional ecosystem for human health sciences (HHS) in Ontario. OBIO created OBEST as a call-to-action and mobilized province-wide stakeholders to develop, prioritize and implement key strategic initiatives to help industry. Ideas were categorized as industry-led or government-partnered. Prioritization led to the 2011 launch of nine implementation teams. A subsequent review selected Innovation Adoption, Capital Access, Healthcare priorities and Interconnectivity as foci for 2013.

Click here to view the Onboard Magazine.

Click here to view the OBIO Article.

Realizing the Promise of Healthcare Innovation in Ontario

The OBIO® Innovation Adoption Initiative is a product of the Ontario Bioscience Economic Strategy Team (OBEST®), an initiative launched by OBIO® to address the challenges faced by Ontario’s human health technology and bioscience industry. Its goal is to recommend policy avenues that catalyze commercialization for the therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics, and health information technology (health IT) sectors while strengthening the province’s capacity to deliver cost-effective care for patients and caregivers as intelligently and innovatively as practicable. Click here to view the full report online.

OBIO Chair, Dr. David Young Opens OBIO AGM December 5, 2013

For the 2013 (20131205) OBIO 5th AGM. Dr. David Young, Board Chair, Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO®)

Opening remarks.

Good Afternoon-thank you for coming to our fifth annual general meeting. When I was talking to Arun Menawat, who will become the vice chairman of OBIO, about joining the board we covered a lot of ground. I have been thinking about that conversation ever since and one the striking thing about it was the common ground we shared.

We are both extremely grateful that this country has been so welcoming to new comers. We marveled at how this environment has given us the opportunity to succeed in an area that we care so passionately about. We are appreciative of all the help we have received from those around us. Equally, we felt we wanted to help improve this province and this country which has been so generous to us.

I think we all share this common ground: we are extremely lucky to be here in Ontario, we all have an ambition to make the world a bit better for having received opportunities not universally available, we want to help others improve their own circumstances, and we earn our livelihoods in human life sciences where this common ground is the most salient.

I think this is why most of us are here tonight. Coming together with OBIO means something. OBIO is the common ground for creating a change that will amplify the advantages in this province that we have all enjoyed.

As I reflected on why this province and country has been so fortunate and created the circumstances I talked about I realized that it was because we provide a welcome port for new ideas-taking the best from all of us and putting them to work.

We have come together to change the trajectory of this province to create a bed rock of economic growth that will improve the future. Tangibly this is better jobs, higher incomes, better services, more self fulfillment and more opportunities for ourselves and the next generations.

In order to accomplish this goal the best ideas have to come to the top.

We work in an area where science underpins what we do. The Scientific Method is one of the crown jewels of western intellectual achievement and one of the reasons that we enjoy the standard of living that we do. A key feature of this, as is well known to everyone in the audience, is the debate and spirit of inquiry leading to data collection and ultimately a conclusion. This is how we determine what the best ideas are in science and we can use it to advance our goals in developing a life sciences economy.

OBIO has been the place where all voices can be heard because we need to have the best ideas come forward.

We want to hear from everyone-we don’t know where the breakthrough ideas are going to come from. This is where honest debate can take place. This is where people can put aside their imperatives of their day jobs and put their minds to creating the high tide that lifts all boats. This is where thought leads to action.

Obviously we have a lot further to go in this collective journey but as I look around I can see a lot of like minded people. Look around at this great diversity of people and organizations. From those who deliver healthcare on the front lines like St Michaels and William Osler hospital, CCAC, Plexxus, to our universities like UofT and York U; tech transfer offices like Techna, and the Lunenfeld; municipal government like Mississauga and provincial governments, trade organizations like TBOT, biotech companies and multinational drug and device companies.

This speaks well of OBIO for representing the collective interests and efforts of engaged stakeholders working towards a common goal – the creation of a fully functioning life sciences ecosystem.

I think it’s fantastic that OBIO can provide the big tent for the kind of brass tacks discussions that lead to action. I think one of the reasons that thought leaders have gravitated to OBIO is that we are not a debating club. We don’t do studies just to fill dusty bookshelves. We harness great ideas to advance our goals. As in science we use data to parse out the great ideas from those just shouted through the loudest megaphones, or those that have narrower selfish aims, or those that have proven to have failed.

What a renaissance in thinking-Let’s try to make people healthier and happier. Let a million ideas bloom in a thousand voices. Let’s pick the best ones that help us make this a better place to live. Let’s export it so that the world can enjoy the benefits of our high water mark, too.

This high tide closes the circle for us: we use our natural advantages such as in our research and our healthcare system to commercialize breakthroughs that lead to better health outcomes. This attracts capital investments because selling our solutions in healthcare to the world creates high returns. We create companies and jobs which improve the standard of living in the province. This higher level of economic activity allows us to invest in research, healthcare and education to fuel the cycle of growth and prosperity.

I think that’s our secret sauce as a society-our open mindedness to good ideas and the ability to pick the best ones based on evidence. I think most of us are here today because OBIO is the best chance for helping Ontario get to the next level. This is our common ground.

I thank you for being here today and all your help and encourage you to continue with our journey.

Click here to view the full opening remarks.

Interview: Gail Garland CEO, Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization, Canada

The CEO of OBIO discusses Ontario’s challenges and opportunities in life sciences, highlighting some of the key initiatives that the organization is taking to help local companies bridge the gap between research and commercialization. What was your main objective in founding OBIO back in 2009?

The main motivation for founding OBIO was the impetus provided by a group of CEOs in Ontario’s bioscience industry who saw the need for the development of an organization that focused on policy and advocacy. It also needed to represent the needs of the industry in order to grow Ontario’s bioscience ecosystem and advocate for the types of policy that would allow that growth to happen. This was in the middle of 2009, in the depths of a recession. Companies were operating with little cash on hand, and there was no path out without having some policy and advocacy support to help them complete their development cycles.

Click here to view the full interview.

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.

Click here to view the full article in PDF format.

OBIO Reconciles Ontario Bioscience Economic Strategy (OBEST)

With the Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Services Chaired by Don Drummond 2012

June 2012 - Over the last several years numerous publications have emerged from government, academia and independent think tanks examining the state of Canada’s innovation sector and its relationship to prosperity.

Overall the general consensus has been that research and invention are strengths while commercialization, domestic economic benefit and productivity gains have lagged. This article reviews the recent recommendations in the report by the Drummond Commission, in light of the Ontario economy and the opportunity to address spending and extract greater value from the health sciences innovation sector.

Click here to view the full article in PDF format.

Ontario's Human Health Technology and Bioscience Industry gets its 'Groove Back'

May 2012 - On the heels of gloomy economic forecasts for Ontario such as those put forward by the recently- released Drummond Commission on the Reform of Ontario’s Public Service, Ontarians have been alerted that ways must be found to replace the province’s declining manufacturing base if it is to return to a position of economic advantage relative to the rest of Canada.

OBEST strategy was launched to stop the downturn in the human health and biotechnology sector and take up the challenge of pivoting Ontario’s economy towards renewed prosperity and growth. OBEST recognized the need to take action in order to ensure Ontario does not lose the opportunity for building a globally-recognized bioscience sector that develops and exports new products and services capable of addressing global healthcare priorities.

Click here to view the full article in PDF format.

OBIO Think Tank Economic Vision Document

OBIO Think Tank Economic Vision Document on Ontario’s Human Health Technology and Biosciences Industry

Introduction

The governments of Ontario and Canada are examining the ways in which they have a role to play in fostering innovation. In 2010, the Canadian government commissioned a panel charged with assessing the state of programs designed to support business and commercially oriented research and development. The resultant Jenkins Report contains recommendations impacting the human health technology and bioscience industries.

This paper will discuss the Jenkins, Drummond and other reports and will make the case for a call to action led by the private sector. In addition it will both look at and question some of the “Conventional Wisdom” about the health-sciences industry that has helped shape both action and inaction across Government and Government funded agencies. It is beyond the scope of this paper to address all economic influences. Instead we will review macro level information then focus on the human health technologies and biosciences sector to make a case for change.

Click here to view the full article in PDF format.

Commercialization Success OBEST

With the global economy still in recovery two years after the economic downturn, Ontario's bioscience industry and a universe if pan- Ontario stakeholders seized the opportunity to contribute to Ontario's economic growth and developed a comprehensive, implementable plan for a vibrant biosciences industry. Developed by OBIO, the plan is named, OBEST (Ontario Biosciences Economic Strategy Team) and articles industry's collective mandate for sustainability, growth and long term prosperity. Click here to view the rest of the article in PDF format

The Ontario Bioscience Industry Strategic Implementation Plan

Over the past several months, OBEST has engaged >200 senior representatives from major stakeholder groups across Ontario's life-sciences sector. The 6-month strategic planning process has resulted in defined priorities and a plan for robust growth and commercial viability of the province's bioscience industry. Click here to view the full article in PDF format

Ontario's Bioscience Industry - Translating Strategy into Action

The Ontario Bioscience Innovation Organization (OBIO) works to advance the development and growth of a sustainable, commercially - driven, life sciences industry in Ontario. OBIO is a private sector, membership-based organization representing Ontario’s human-health bioscience industry. Key among Ontario's bioscience strengths are a pipeline of high value, early stage intellectual property and start-up opportunities. In addition, Ontario boasts a strong academic research base with significant investment in intellectual-property generation and research training.

Ontario’s human health bioscience industry consists of almost 100 small and medium-size companies of which over 50 per cent are working on therapeutic products. Forty per cent of companies are located in the Greater Toronto Area with access to eight universities, 10 colleges, 60 hospitals and an innovative business incubator (MaRS Discovery District)... [more]

Click here to view the full article in PDF format, by Gail Garland in Vantage GTA, Spring Summer 2011.

The Best Laid Plans - How OBIO™ is looking to overcome the past, change the course of the bioscience industry in Ontario and steer the ship out of the storm

How OBIO(TM) is looking to overcome the past, change the course of the bioscience industry in Ontario and steer the ship out of the storm.
By: Christopher Rogers

Innovation and Bioscience go hand and hand. It is a symbiotic relationship - both depend on one another. Yet, for Ontario, a province teeming with groundbreaking initiatives in the bioscience field, there is something missing. A broken link between this would-be flourishing industry and reality. True, the recession of 2008 to 2009 hit the industry hard, but the seeds of insufficiency were planted far earlier.

For most of the past decade, the rallying cry of the Ontario life science industry has been "commercialization is key." Now, more than ever, that message rings true, but it has also evolved, and as it stands, the Ontario bioscience industry is looking for investment, incentives and the capital it needs to be the juggernaut most believe it can be. The plan to get the province to that point is what OBEST(TM), the Ontario Bioscience Economic Strategy Team hopes to bestow upon the industry.

ONTARIO’S LIFE SCIENCES COMMERCIALIZATION STRATEGY

...But today our industry is being challenged by increased global competitionfrom established and emerging life sciences jurisdictions, as well as by difficult economic conditions that include tight credit and market volatility. To compete successfully in the global marketplace, we know that our industry needs to continue to attract and nurture great scientific minds, increase collaboration among all the players – academia, industry and government – to accelerate the commercialization of research breakthroughs, and improve financing for innovative companies, particularly at the early-stage.

Click here to view the entire report