BIO2015 EXCLUSIVE: Ontario Open for Business As Biotech Booms, Says Government

BIO2015 EXCLUSIVE: Ontario Open for Business As Biotech Booms, Says Government
June 17, 2015
By Riley McDermid, Breaking News Sr. Editor

Ontario, Canada is open for business and ready to welcome new life sciences and biotech companies into a brand new business-friendly environment after announcing five new initiatives at Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) International today.

BioSpace chatted with Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation for the region, about what makes Ontario an attractive place to set up shop.

What makes Ontario a great place for life sciences and biotech to do business?

Canada ranks sixth in the world in life sciences and biotech quality and impact of research, with Ontario comprising nearly half of the national research enterprise. In addition, Ontario has an entrepreneurship rate that is at the top among innovation-driven economies and is home to the world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies by revenue (and others), where they conduct clinical trials. Beginning in 2003, we’ve invested more than $3.8 billion in research and innovation to attract talent and investment and create good jobs. Ontario has also made strategic investments in the following areas:

Research: to create the workforce of tomorrow and support world-class research and research talent at Ontario’s leading-edge research institutions;
Youth: to ensure they have the skills needed to excel in today’s economy;
Entrepreneurship & Business Growth: by building and strengthening entrepreneurial ecosystems to accelerate the start, growth and success of Ontario companies; and
Risk Capital: to catalyze a stronger returns-based risk capital industry to support high growth and retention of Ontario’s innovative firms.

Can you name some of your successes so far?

The life sciences sector generated more than $37.2 billion in revenue in 2012, and employs more than 51,000 people with a yearly payroll of about $3.4 billion. Several pharmaceuticals, medical devices and biotechnologies already call Ontario home including GE Healthcare, Medtronic, Inc. , Pfizer Inc. , Philips and Johnson-Johnson to name a few.

What sort of incentives does Ontario offer?

A number of tax credits are available to businesses in Ontario to help lower costs, hire/train workers, compete in the marketplace and support various sectors. Our costs are the lowest in the G7 for R&D-intensive sectors. Ontario is also North America’s most competitive jurisdiction for corporate taxes. The marginal effective tax rate of 16.6 percent on new capital investment (provincial and federal) is lower than the U.S. and OECD averages. Ontario’s R&D tax credits are the most generous of the G7 countries. Combined with federal R&D programs, Ontario’s R&D Tax Program can reduce a company’s after-tax cost of every $100 in R&D spending to between $61 and $37.

More on Ontario tax credits and incentives for innovation and scientific research can be found at:

How did these new partnerships come about?

This week at the BIO International conference in Philadelphia, we announced five new partnerships involving Ontario organizations totaling $7 million that will propel the Province further in the life sciences sector.

1. CQDM, a Quebec research consortium, is partnering with the Ontario Centres of Excellence to fund $1.5 million in five drug research projects through the Explore Program, a CQDM program designed to support unconventional and innovative research

2. CQDM and MaRS Innovation announced close to $1 million in joint funding for Ontario’s Encycle Therapeutics to develop new treatments for inflammatory bowel disease and fibrosis

3. Université de Montréal, the University of Toronto and Ontario’s Centre for the Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine announced the creation of ExcellThera, a new company that will commercialize treatments for a number of blood-related diseases, including leukemia, myeloma and lymphoma

4. Clinical Trials Ontario, an independent not-for-profit organization that aims to make Ontario the preferred location for global clinical trials, announced the successful use of a new Streamlined Research Ethics Review System by GlaxoSmithKline . Glaxo-Smith Kline will be the first global company to receive province-wide ethics approval for an international multi-centre clinical trial in Ontario, advancing the province’s position as a global leader in clinical trials

5. Neuroscience Catalyst Consortium, a neuroscience research partnership between the University of Toronto and Janssen Inc., and facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation, announced $4.5 million, including $1 million in funding from the Ontario Centres of Excellence, for new innovative neuroscience research

Encycle Therapeutics is a MaRS Innovation-University of Toronto startup that has been jointly funded by MaRS Innovation’s and CQDM's strategic partnerships with big pharma from its inception. Now that the company has a demonstrated success record with its platform and its lead molecule, it's gaining more and more momentum with pharmaceutical partners as evidenced by their willingness to fund co-development projects.

The Neuroscience Catalyst Consortium began last year by University of Toronto and Janssen in partnership with Johnson-Johnson innovation. Other partners joining the project include MaRS Innovation, which introduced the partners to the Ministry of Research and Innovation and led the early conversation; Evotec, a global, high-quality provider in the drug discovery field; and Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE), which is administering the funding.

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