Ontario's life sciences companies continue to be challenged by the slow global economic recovery. Restrictions in the availability of capital continue to constrain this sector's ability to ensure Ontario's 'human capital' provides its greatest return on our societal investment.
In 2009 the Ontario Bioscience Industry Organization (OBIO™) conducted its first consultation with the Chief Executive Officers of Ontario's life sciences companies resulting in "Industry Generated Recommendations for Sustainability and Growth of Ontario's Bioscience Industry in 2010 and Beyond".
In November of 2010, OBIO conducted its second industry consultation. As with the first survey, this consultation sought to give voice to the concerns of senior life sciences executives and offer industry generated recommendations for how best to support this sector. The survey, sent to 77 C’level executives received 56 responses (73% response rate). Respondents were predominantly private companies (87%) focused on either research and development (35%) or pre-clinical research (30%). Many companies are 'pre-profit' (57%) and raising funds remains a critical focus for >90% of company leaders.
As in 2009, the 2010 survey polled executives on specific and actionable recommendations for improvements to existing funding initiatives. Chief Executives were consistent in raising concern over the level of support offered by government programs, the inefficiencies engendered by the application processes, and the challenges to their ongoing operations brought about by delays in disbursement. Accepting these opportunities for improvement, >85% of the CEO respondents consider their company's situations to be either the same or improved over the last year with the greater percentage (50%) offering that their situation has improved.
Proceeding forward, the 2010 survey offers insights as to those potential implementations considered to be of greatest value in supporting this sector. Common themes relate to 'easing' of the challenges associated with accessing existing government programs and 'easing' access to venture capital. As a measure of the commitment of industry leaders to growing their businesses within Ontario, the highest interest was accorded to "develop and implement a strategic plan for building a competitive indigenous bioscience industry in Ontario".
The 2010 OBIO CEO Consultative Survey speaks to the persistence of challenges in accessing capital and impediments to accessing both funding and markets. It gives voice to a sector which values both its productive relationship with the government of Ontario and the opportunity this survey provides to ensure government programs effectively address current needs. Importantly, this survey also serves as an initiation point for a discussion of alternative means of ensuring continued sector growth. OBIO, through OBEST™ (Ontario Bioscience Economic Strategy Team) will continue to work with industry leaders on the development of a strategic plan with the goal of delivering high value jobs, opportunities for wealth creation and improved health care for all Ontarians.
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