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Ontario’s life sciences opportunity
Ontario was in a precarious position at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We were dependent on foreign supply for critical goods and faced hollowed out domestic production capabilities. The pandemic also exposed our inability to procure innovation in health care to improve patient outcomes.
On our province’s road to recovery, we have an opportunity to fix this. In fact, we must make it our responsibility. We must build the foundation for a world class life sciences sector that allows globally competitive companies to thrive. It is why we are laying a strong foundation for new investments that provide high paying jobs and develop innovative solutions to improve the lives of Ontarians.
The race is on. Around the world, governments are working with partners to:
- raise and attract new investments
- develop highly skilled talent
- commercialize innovation for the benefit of their people
Ontario has a thriving research ecosystem, supported by world class universities and colleges that produce one of the most highly sought-after workforces in the world. But more is needed, and we have a plan to deliver.
In 2021, Ontario achieved record breaking results in attracting new investment, recording more than half of all venture capital investments in Canada with $8.4 billion including $846.8 million in life sciences. We want to see Ontario’s life sciences entrepreneurs capturing a greater share of this growing pool of venture capital. And we want to build on this momentum by making sure these rapidly growing companies have a partner that supports their growth – a government that helps them access talent, secure new investments and bring their products to market.
Our vision is to establish Ontario as a global biomanufacturing and life sciences hub leading in the development, commercialization and early adoption of innovative health products and services. Our goal is to maintain and grow Ontario’s biomanufacturing and life sciences sector by targeting 85,000 high-value jobs in the life sciences sector by 2030, a 25% increase from 2020.
Growing Ontario’s life sciences sector is essential to our plan to build a competitive economy. We want Ontario to be the place where entrepreneurs choose to build their companies – where medical breakthroughs are discovered and commercialized into innovative products and services made and procured here in Ontario for the benefit of Ontarians.
This is our plan for the future of Ontario’s life sciences sector.
The strategy is broken down into two phases, with Phase 1 tackling more immediate issues facing the sector and Phase 2 focusing on actions that will be needed to support its long-term success in the lead-up to 2030.
Phase 1 addresses the immediate challenges in the sector and sets out ambitious goals for Ontario’s life sciences sector over the next decade. These goals and initiatives aim to secure long-term success and growth by attracting large-scale biomanufacturing investments – while addressing the challenges that inhibit growth in Ontario and prevent Ontario-made health innovations from helping Ontario patients.
It will also establish a forward-looking life sciences council that will focus on long-term growth and competitiveness in four key subsectors:
- medical technology
- digital health
- personal protective equipment (PPE)
The council will include executives and leaders from the sector and will be tasked with collaboratively working together on a plan to make Ontario a top hub for innovation growth and life sciences investments. It will also identify opportunities for Ontario to work with provincial and federal counterparts to improve regulatory processes and incentives to advance the pharmaceutical sector and improve patient access to innovative medicines.
Phase 2 will go further. It will focus on building capacity to build and buy made-in Ontario health innovations. It will put the life sciences task force’s recommendations to work, making sure that Ontario companies, innovators and entrepreneurs have what they need to advance next-generation health technologies, build globally competitive companies, and propel Ontario to the head of the pack in the race to build a world-class life sciences sector.
Taking life sciences to the next level
Establish Ontario as a global biomanufacturing and life sciences hub leading in the development, commercialization and early adoption of innovative health products and services.
Phase 1 will build up our life sciences sector through securing commercial-scale manufacturing capacity and supply chains while improving manufacturing readiness of Ontario’s small- and medium-sized businesses through four pillars:
- grow Ontario’s biomanufacturing footprint
- build domestic resiliency in PPE and critical medical supplies
- boost commercialization capacity of Ontario companies and startups
- adopt Ontario innovation to improve healthcare
Phase 2 will build out Ontario’s industry to become a leader in next-generation life sciences technology.
2030 anchor goal
Maintain and grow Ontario’s biomanufacturing and life sciences sector by targeting 85,000 high-value jobs in the life sciences sector by 2030, a 25% increase from 2020.
A Message from the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated first-hand the significance of having a strong life sciences sector. We fought hard in the global race for critical medical goods and won. In the early months, we secured ventilators and gowns, and invested $23.3 million to secure a commitment from 3M to make N95 masks in Brockville. Through the Ontario Together Fund, we are investing $100 million in domestic manufacturers across the province to make personal protective equipment and compete to make vaccines in Ontario as well.
We are now on the verge of making every category of personal protective equipment in Ontario. Two years ago, this was not the case – but it didn’t need to be this way. Years of inaction from previous governments left us dependent on the supply of critical goods from other countries, hollowed out our domestic production, and exposed our inability to procure innovation in health care to improve patient outcomes. Outdated policies and red tape drove up the cost of doing business in Ontario and drove manufacturers and good jobs out of province. Amazing research in next generation health products and services was happening in Ontario but commercialized and scaled in other jurisdictions. Our health system was more often a barrier to growth rather than a partner for our local companies.
We’ve since taken action to fix this. We’ve reduced business costs in Ontario by nearly $7 billion annually, implemented Ontario’s first ever intellectual property action plan, and launched both Ontario Health and Supply Ontario with the goal of breaking down roadblocks in health procurement.
As a result, Ontario has attracted close to $2 billion in new investments by global biomanufacturers and has experienced a record-breaking year in life sciences venture capital investment.
It is now time to build on this momentum. Beyond the pandemic, we see an opportunity to vault Ontario’s rapidly growing life sciences sector into the top tier of competing global jurisdictions. One that leverages our world-class research to generate and commercialize made-in Ontario health innovations that improve the health of our people and support growing, globally competitive companies.
That is why we are releasing Ontario’s Life Sciences Strategy – the first of its kind in over a decade. It aims to address long-standing barriers to growth and positions our province for success during this period of global transformation.
The time to act is now. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that a robust and resilient life sciences sector is critical for the health, well-being and economic recovery of our province. Continuing to grow our life sciences sector will help support our economic recovery, strengthen our pandemic preparedness and build a stronger, healthier Ontario for the future.
Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
2030 Goal 1: Grow Ontario’s biomanufacturing footprint
What we’ll do:
- secure new vaccine and medicine manufacturing mandates and commercial-scale investments by leveraging Invest Ontario to help to grow and diversify Ontario’s biomanufacturing sector
How we’ll do it:
- secure high-value investments
- promote Ontario in key markets
- reduce red tape
How we’ll measure success:
- by 2030 we will attract 5+ investments over $100 million that will grow Ontario’s footprint in biomanufacturing, including vaccine and medicine production
Secure high-value investments
Within the past 18 months, Ontario has welcomed close to $2 billion in new investments from global biomanufacturers including Sanofi, Resilience and Roche. These will have a huge impact on the health and well-being of Ontarians, while strengthening Ontario’s supply chain and pandemic preparedness.
Together, these investments will boost Ontario’s biomanufacturing capacity and deliver Ontario-made vaccines and treatments – including for COVID-19. And they will put our province at the forefront of advances in life sciences and mRNA technology.
Through the province’s investment agency, Invest Ontario, we will leverage our strengths to secure new investments and production mandates from global biomanufacturers. The agency is equipped with financial and non-financial incentives to attract investment opportunities.
We will work to secure near-term investments that:
- diversify Ontario’s manufacturing capabilities
- strengthen Ontario’s supply chain resiliency and pandemic preparedness
- increase Ontario’s global competitiveness
Ontario partners with the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine and McMaster Innovation Park to launch Canada’s largest and most advanced cell and gene therapy contract development and manufacturing organization
In a nutshell
In March 2022, the Province of Ontario in partnership with the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM) and McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) announced plans to build a state-of-the-art biomanufacturing facility at MIP. The OmniaBio Inc. facility will focus on manufacturing gene-modified cell therapies and viral vectors for pivotal/Phase III and commercial-scale production in compliance with good manufacturing practices standards.
Founded in 2011, CCRM’s vision is to make Ontario a global destination and premier accelerator for the best people, technologies, processes, clinical trials, healthcare providers, companies and investors working on the development and commercialization of revolutionary new “living” medicines. CCRM has established partnerships globally that will provide Ontario companies with access to global markets and attract global companies to Ontario for the infrastructure and scientific expertise.
CCRM, MIP and other partners will invest over $580 million, of which the province is committing up to $40 million through Invest Ontario and the Invest Ontario Fund, subject to reaching a definitive agreement, to anchor the project and its future intellectual property in Ontario.
Why this is a big deal
The OmniaBio investment supports Ontario’s new Life Sciences Strategy. It will provide Ontario companies, and others from across Canada, with a pathway to commercialization in Ontario – and a domestic option for manufacturing to anchor them in Ontario. It means lower costs for Ontario companies to produce in Canada. It will help mitigate future economic drains of intellectual property, talent and innovation to other competing jurisdictions in the U.S., Asia, EU and U.K. And it will help vault Ontario’s life sciences sector towards global leadership in cell and gene therapy and related technologies.
- the new OmniaBio facility will triple CCRM’s manufacturing capacity and build on its existing global client base
- CCRM portfolio and associated companies have collectively raised over $800 million in follow-on funding and represent over $1.5 billion worth of market value
- CCRM’s most recent spinoff, Notch Therapeutics, raised a record $105 million Series A investment round in February 2021. This investment will accelerate Notch’s ground-breaking stem cell manufacturing technology for use in cancer therapies, which is planned to be manufactured in Ontario in partnership with CCRM
We will also support life science companies with existing operations in Ontario grow their production capabilities and upgrade their productivity through two programs.
Through the Regional Development Program, Ontario is investing more than $100 million from 2019 to 2023 to support regional priorities and to help companies invest in new technology, increase productivity and strengthen supply chains in eastern and southwestern Ontario.
Additionally, the Advanced Manufacturing and Innovation Competitiveness (AMIC) stream of the Regional Development Program will support Ontario advanced manufacturers, including the life sciences sector, to invest in the equipment, advanced technologies and skilled workforce needed to improve competitiveness and growth, and to create, retain and bring jobs back to every region of the province.
The future of Ontario’s life sciences sector depends on attracting new investments to our province and increasing the ability of Ontario companies to sell their homegrown innovations into global markets. It also depends on our ability to tell the story of Ontario’s strengths and our connected ecosystem of partners – our world-class research institutes, hospitals, universities, colleges, technology incubators, start-ups, scientists and multinationals.
That is why Ontario is going to develop and launch a targeted marketing and investment attraction plan. Through targeted digital advertising and custom marketing content, we will attract and nurture investment leads in key markets in the United States, Europe and Asia. And we will promote Ontario’s highly skilled workforce, strengths in life sciences research and development, high-quality and competitively priced goods and services, business-friendly environment, and highly collaborative innovation ecosystem.
Leveraging Invest Ontario, along with Ontario’s global network of International Trade and Investment Offices and industry partners, the province will position itself in high-priority markets as a premier destination to attract leads and game-changing investments in the life sciences and biomanufacturing space.
We will focus our marketing efforts on emerging areas such as regenerative medicine, cell and gene therapy, vaccines and related technologies. And we will promote export opportunities for Ontario companies – raising awareness of their potential in new export markets while leveraging Ontario’s event presence to promote Ontario companies to global firms that could be potential customers.
We will send a clear message that Ontario is open for business.
Ontario is attracting major life sciences and biomanufacturing investments, making the province a strong candidate for future vaccine production
Sanofi announces $925 million vaccine facility
In a nutshell
In March 2021, the Ontario government announced a partnership with the federal government, City of Toronto and Sanofi, a leading global biopharmaceutical and vaccines company, to build a vaccine and pandemic preparedness facility. It will meet growing demand for flu vaccines, boost Canada's preparedness for future pandemics and create 300 high-quality jobs.
Sanofi will build the $925 million state-of-the-art vaccine facility to meet growing global demand for vaccines. The company is also committed to undertaking R&D in Ontario – investing over half a billion dollars and supporting partnerships with leading scientists.
Resilience Biologics announces $401 million expansion to develop medical countermeasures to COVID-19
In a nutshell
In May 2021, Ontario-based Resilience Biologics announced a $401 million project to expand its medical facility in Mississauga. Once completed, the facility will produce up to 640 million doses of mRNA vaccines per year.
This project will provide domestic mRNA manufacturing capacity and position Ontario well to attract follow-on vaccine manufacturing investment.
Reducing red tape
Unnecessary red tape and regulatory burdens stifle entrepreneurship, investment and innovation.
That is why Ontario will continue to work across government to reduce red tape and clear the way for job creation and innovation. We will work closely with the Ministry of Health to continue to look for ways to provide greater regulatory flexibility to support the development of innovative research and health products while protecting patient safety.
Through lowering taxes, reducing electricity costs and cutting red tape, we have reduced overall business costs in Ontario by nearly $7 billion annually. Our business-first approach improves the bottom line for Ontario innovators and entrepreneurs, helping them to invest and grow.
Ontario has delivered nearly $400 million in ongoing savings on regulatory compliance costs to businesses, not-for-profits, municipalities, universities and colleges, schools and hospitals. In addition to reducing regulatory burdens, Ontario’s bi-annual Red Tape Reduction packages have streamlined Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premium payments. This is making Ontario’s life sciences and biomanufacturing sector more globally competitive – and helping more Ontario innovators turn good ideas into globally relevant companies.
Ontario cannot act alone when it comes to reducing burdens on our researchers and entrepreneurs. We will also continue to work with the federal government to support regulatory pathways that reflect the latest science, including support for new technologies that provide greater personalized health products and remote care.
This includes supporting the federal Regulatory Innovation Agenda to modernize our regulations for clinical trials, drug and medical device licensing, and advanced therapeutics. These changes are expected to support more streamlined and faster regulatory approvals for innovative drug products with proven safety and efficacy.
2030 Goal 2: Build domestic supply chain resiliency in PPE and critical medical supplies
What we’ll do:
- ensure future pandemic preparedness by supporting the growth and stability of Ontario’s domestic personal protective equipment and critical medical supply sectors, including building a long-term stockpile for provincial use
How we’ll do it:
- invest in domestic production
- improve pandemic preparedness
How we’ll measure success:
- by 2030 we will develop a robust category management approach to personal protective equipment where the majority of manufacturers providing product to the Ontario government and broader public sector are located in Ontario
Investing in domestic production
In response to COVID-19, Ontario made significant investments to build domestic production and supply chains for critical medical supplies and personal protective equipment – like face masks, hand sanitizer, N95 respirators, ventilator components, nasopharyngeal swabs and rapid antigen tests. These will help to keep Ontarians safe and healthy and prepared for future challenges, and Ontario’s manufacturing sector competitive and strong.
The $100 million Ontario Together Fund is one way we are helping our manufacturers retool or adapt their operations to produce supplies and equipment for the health care sector and frontline workers.
To date, Ontario has leveraged over $186 million in investments through the Ontario Together Fund to help Ontario companies retool or ramp up manufacturing capacity to supply emergency products including personal protective equipment and other solutions.
As a result of our investments in domestic production, we are on track to produce every type of personal protective equipment in Ontario by 2024.
Transitioning from foreign reliance to domestic resilience
In a nutshell
The Fort Erie-based company, Abatement Technologies is a leader in clean air technology. It designs and manufactures powerful HEPA air purification and containment products that help control and remove harmful airborne pathogens and improve air quality.
In 2022, the Ontario government is supporting an $18 million investment by Abatement Technologies with $2.5 million through the Ontario Together Fund. This will help the company respond to increased demand for its products since the onset of COVID-19, including air purification systems. It will enable the company to purchase new equipment and expand its production capabilities with a new facility in Fort Erie, which the company broke ground on in April 2021.
Did you know?
Shortly after its founding in 1988, Abatement Technologies became a key player in pandemic response by designing a series of portable patient isolation systems. It first developed them to help control the spread of tuberculosis.
Improving pandemic preparedness
As part of the government’s Plan to Stay Open, we are introducing the Pandemic and Emergency Preparedness Act to ensure that Ontario’s public services, and especially its critical frontline workers providing essential services, have a robust ongoing centralized supply chain for personal protective equipment and other critical medical supplies and equipment.
If passed, the legislation would ensure there is always a robust supply of personal protective equipment and other critical medical supplies available in Ontario, ready to be deployed to withstand the challenges of extraordinary events.
Ontario will leverage the province’s extensive manufacturing capability wherever possible to maintain a healthy stockpile in non-emergency times, ensuring preparedness and the safety and security of Ontarians in time of crisis.
Never again will these critical frontline workers be without the protective supplies they need to keep themselves and Ontarians safe.
The bill would require annual reporting on the supply chain and protect Ontario consumers from bad actors by making it illegal to resell government-supplied personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies provided without charge by the government.
For domestic manufacturers, this means more opportunities to innovate, grow and sell their products here at home.
For Ontarians, this means good jobs, greater transparency, a stronger health system and peace of mind.
This is a key part of our government’s plan to improve pandemic preparedness and ensure that Ontario is ready for future challenges.
2030 Goal 3: Boost commercialization capacity of Ontario companies and start-ups
What we’ll do:
- prime Ontario’s small and medium-sized businesses for homegrown success by strengthening their ability to turn innovative research and ideas into Ontario-made products and services that the world wants to buy
How we’ll do it:
- improve access to capital
- improve business acumen
- promote partnerships
How we’ll measure success:
- by 2030 we will attract 10+ Ontario life sciences companies newly listed on public exchanges (for example, TSX or NASDAQ) or subject to a merger/acquisition – and valued over $250 million
- by 2030 we will double venture capital investment in Ontario’s life sciences sector to $725 million per year from its current five-year average of $361 million
Improve access to capital
Access to capital was the number one issue we heard during consultations. Ontario’s life sciences companies face unique commercialization and growth-related challenges. These challenges impact the sector’s ability to attract capital compared to other sectors. For example, pharma and medtech projects can take up to 12 years to bring new products to market. And the cost of commercialization – such as building prototypes and supporting drug trials – can require larger financial infusions over a longer period.
Funding gaps are particularly felt at the earliest stages of commercialization when the path to market is the longest and highest risk. If we do not address this challenge head on, we will continue to see companies created in Ontario leaving for other jurisdictions where they can raise capital and sell their products.
Our best and brightest take risks to build companies, create high-paying jobs, and improve our health care. These entrepreneurs are the future of our economy and need a robust venture capital ecosystem that supports them.
Life Sciences Innovation Program (LSIP)
Ontario will launch a new $15 million early-stage fund to address the challenges life sciences entrepreneurs face in moving their ideas and prototypes from the lab to the marketplace.
Designed to make early-stage investments less risky, the Life Sciences Innovation Program will attract private-sector funds to help scale made-in-Ontario solutions for global markets. It will also help innovators and entrepreneurs tackle challenges right here at home in Ontario’s health care system.
Envisioned as a co-investment fund, the LSIP will provide companies up to $500,000 for proposed projects through two streams. One stream will be an ongoing intake for high-potential life sciences companies possessing innovative intellectual property or technologies that can demonstrate real-world demand. The other will be a targeted intake for projects aimed at solving specific challenges in Ontario’s hospitals and health care sector.
The targeted intake will help encourage the development of innovative Ontario-made technologies and better position Ontario’s early-stage life sciences companies to be highly competitive in future procurement opportunities. To ensure the program is aligned with the real-world needs of Ontario’s health system, the Ministry of Health, in consultation with partners, will set the challenges with a goal to support the adoption of viable Ontario-made solutions in the future. The Ministry of Health and partners will also identify existing innovation initiatives that could be leveraged to support the development of innovative products funded through the program.
Throughout the entire lifecycle of innovation, LSIP will target support to a critical early-stage of development – helping entrepreneurs get ideas “off the ground”, complete laboratory testing or prototyping, advance development to a pilot or demonstration stage, identify early adopters to refine products, and potentially succeed with early adoption.
The fund will bridge companies to a point where they become attractive to private-sector venture capital, and/or access programs available to companies at later stages of development, such as Ontario’s new $100 million Venture Ontario Fund (VOF). Overseen by the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation, the province’s venture capital agency, VOF will invest in venture capital funds, bringing additional capital and business development expertise to support Ontario life sciences companies.
Together, these programs represent part of a comprehensive continuum of supports that Ontario’s life sciences companies can access depending on their stage of development.
“Access to capital” means more than just the existence of venture capital funds. It also means having the ability to connect Ontario life sciences founders and CEO’s with investors.
Ontario will launch a new initiative to connect our innovators and entrepreneurs with the people that will help take their business to the next level.
Through targeted investment forums, we will promote the vibrancy and inter-connectedness of the province’s life sciences sector.
Ontario life sciences companies will be able to network and pitch directly to investors to secure commercialization and scale-up partnerships.
And we will encourage greater investment through closer ties and stronger relationships between Ontario’s life sciences industry and businesses and the venture capital community.
Improve business acumen
Life sciences innovation is often driven by researchers and scientists that can benefit from a deeper understanding of how to scale and grow their businesses. It is critical that Ontario entrepreneurs have access to the best business development advice.
Ontario will support innovators with the resources and tools they need to turn ground-breaking ideas into globally relevant companies. From pitching to investors, to building a team, to protecting intellectual property and selling their innovations – business acumen is a precursor to business success.
Ontario will launch a program that will connect early-stage Ontario companies with seasoned life sciences executives. Through this business-to-business mentorship, Ontario-based life sciences entrepreneurs will receive practical skills development and advice that will help them succeed.
Mentoring will focus on key areas such as:
- attracting specialized talent
- navigating regulatory pathways for approvals
- obtaining licences
- prototyping products
- pitching investors
- closing sales
Medical Innovation Knowledge Xchange
Aligning with these efforts, Ontario is supporting the Medical Innovation Knowledge Xchange (MIX-KX) to undertake learning, talent development and knowledge transfer activities to support our most promising scaling medtech firms. Through the industry-led network, Ontario’s scaling medtech firms will be able to access key talent supports, including local talent market data reports and new job-ready training opportunities for recent post-secondary graduates.
Intellectual property strategy
For decades, Ontario has invested in academic research institutions, ecosystems and clusters that create the intellectual property that drives our life sciences companies.
Yet, despite our success in cutting-edge research and innovative businesses, Ontario continues to fall behind when it comes to protecting ideas and commercializing intellectual property. According to Ontario’s Expert Panel on Intellectual Property – created to provide advice on the commercialization of research and intellectual property in Ontario – Canada’s patenting performance is woefully inadequate. For instance, between 2014-2017, global filings of patents have grown 14% while filings from Canada shrank by over 22%.
We want our academic research institutions to thrive, businesses to grow and researchers to innovate, while ensuring that all of the commercial and economic benefits remain right here in Ontario.
According to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, small and medium-sized enterprises that own intellectual property are three times more likely to expand domestically and four times more likely to expand internationally
That is why, as recommended in the Expert Panel on Intellectual Property’s report, we announced the province’s first Intellectual Property Action Plan. Our government has also created a new agency – Intellectual Property Ontario – to help researchers and companies across Ontario maximize the value of their intellectual property.
Intellectual Property Ontario will give eligible innovators, researchers and businesses access to strategic advice, legal expertise and the educational resources they need to generate, protect, manage – and maximize the benefits from intellectual property.
It will give Ontario’s innovators a competitive advantage in the global market, support long-term economic growth and help ensure that Ontario taxpayers benefit from the inventions and discoveries that result from publicly funded research and innovation.
It is also why our government developed the Commercialization Mandate Policy Framework to position Ontario’s colleges and universities to be more intentional and transparent in how they generate, protect and commercialize intellectual property stemming from research and innovation happening on campuses across Ontario.
Facilitating partnerships among industry, academia and all levels of government is critical to achieving the goals of Ontario’s Life Sciences Strategy.
To build up our innovation ecosystem, we will promote and support even greater collaboration between Ontario researchers and entrepreneurs. To help spark disruptive and ground-breaking innovation, we will encourage greater collaboration across industries – including our life sciences, information technology and advanced manufacturing sectors.
And we will continue to promote the growth of Regional Life Sciences Clusters by championing unique regional strengths and promoting research excellence happening across the province.
It is critical that we drive collaboration across the broader ecosystem, facilitate regional connections, and build capacity and awareness through partnerships with key players, including Ontario’s Regional Innovation Centres (RICs), municipalities, academia and industry.
2030 Goal 4: Adopt Ontario innovations to improve health care in Ontario
Supply chain modernization
For too long, Ontario’s supply chain for health products and services has been a barrier to growth rather than a first customer for our entrepreneurs. Too often, we see Ontario-made medical devices or digital services offered in other jurisdictions for the benefit of their patients without seeing the same benefits in Ontario.
This is a systemic problem, decades in the making. It will take many years to fix, but the opportunity for our health and economy is too big to ignore.
Already, we have taken immediate action to fix this problem by launching Ontario Health and Supply Ontario. These agencies are empowered to put Ontario’s patients and resiliency first, which includes supporting the growth of local innovators to secure access to innovative products and services.
These agencies need to be equipped with the right tools to accomplish this work. We can’t expect them to solve this problem overnight without the resources and authorities to act.
Supply Ontario will enable a whole-of-government approach to purchasing goods and services for the public sector, broader public sector and health care sectors to strengthen Ontario’s supply chains and pandemic preparedness. Through better customer service, data collection, and strategic resourcing, they will make it easier to bring innovative ideas to market in Ontario.
The Building Ontario Businesses Initiative supports this mandate by requiring the government to give preference to Ontario vendors below trade thresholds and level the playing field for Ontario vendors above trade thresholds. New legislation introduced this year will ensure this continues to remain a priority of the provincial government for years to come.
Improving information sharing to transition between Long-Term Care and Hospitals
In a nutshell
The pandemic solidified the need for more integrated health care services where the system works more seamlessly to support and provide care to our most vulnerable and those in need. The Long-Term Care COVID-19 Commission Report and the Auditor General’s Report on Long-Term Care highlighted the need to strengthen integration between the acute care and long-term care sectors to ensure a coordinated continuum of care.
In the Fall Economic Statement, the government committed $22 million over three years to implement an Ontario-made digital health technology created by Mississauga-based PointClickCare. This solution will integrate the clinical information between hospitals and the long-term care sector. It will streamline information sharing, reduce costly re-admissions, and ensure vulnerable seniors get the highest quality care possible.
“The Long Term and Post-Acute Care sector faces a number of challenges that can only be solved with innovative technology and software solutions. We’re confident that Ontario’s world-class innovation ecosystem and tech talent will further strengthen PointClickCare’s ability to develop meaningful solutions to meet the challenges of senior care.” – Mike Wessinger, CEO, PointClickCare
Did you know?
- PointClickCare, the leading cloud-based software vendor for the senior care market, was founded with a singular vision in mind – solving the global challenges of senior healthcare with technology. Since then, the Mississauga-based company has been making a meaningful impact on the lives of millions through its advancing of healthcare technology
- PointClickCare has grown to be the leading Electronic Health Record company in the senior care industry, and one of the largest privately held software companies in Canada
Innovation management – digital pathways
Procurement has become too complex and burdensome for the majority of entrepreneurs in Ontario. New methods of procurement are needed to source new technologies, especially in the delivery of digital health services.
Digital health is a top priority of our government. Ontario Health Teams (OHTs) are at the core of our government’s plan to build a modern, sustainable health care system that connects health care providers and services – while putting patients first. Over the past year, Ontario invested over $81 million to support the advancement of digital health maturity across Ontario Health Teams.
To be effective, OHTs require early adoption of modern, Ontario-made technologies, tools and information that support digital health and patient-centred care.
To encourage this, the province is working on innovation challenges with OHTs and digital health vendors, with a focus on improving patient care. Projects approved or in the pipeline are as varied as using artificial intelligence to improve vision care for patients with diabetes to providing OHTs with the digital tools they need for population-health management approaches to care.
Building new innovation pathways
Beyond OHTs, Ontario will develop a strategy and long-term plan to better support the early adoption of new Ontario-made technologies across our health system.
From the identification of promising innovations through to generating and appraising the evidence and finally recommending innovations for health care system funding, Ontario will look for opportunities to improve our adoption of Ontario-made technologies that solve some of our greatest health care system challenges.
Over the next few months, we will work with Supply Ontario to begin developing a clinical supply chain model between the agency and Ontario Health.
In the longer term, the province will develop a plan to sustainably fund the early adoption of made-in-Ontario innovations and technologies across Ontario’s health care system.
Global trends: Technological transformation is accelerating
Global economic trends and market forces are rapidly shifting towards new technologies that are transforming the life sciences and health care sector:
- artificial intelligence (AI) and data-driven drug discovery
- personalized and precision medicine through advancements in genetics
- digital health records
- health care apps
- remote patient care and monitoring
- decentralized, virtual or hybrid clinical trials
Building the biotech pipeline of the future “from molecule to medicine”
In a nutshell
Ontario is home to wildly successful startups including Cyclica, a world-class team of biotech and pharma professionals, biologists, chemists, and computer scientists, whose work is focused on AI-driven drug discovery.
From humble beginnings in a basement office with a small team of co-op students, today Cyclica has more than 70 employees and advisers at its headquarters in Toronto, a team in the U.S. and another in the U.K. It started out building a cloud-based platform to be used by pharma companies under a software-as-a-service model to improve drug discovery. Today, the growing company has shifted its efforts toward owning its own pipeline of drug discovery programs. Cyclica has consultants all over the world and partnerships with biotech players in Brazil, Singapore, South Korea, China, the U.S., Europe, the U.K., India and Australia, among others.
“We’re in this for one reason and one reason alone: to get medicines to patients faster and more precisely.” - Naheed Kurji, Co-Founder, President and CEO
Did you know?
- sequencing the first human genome cost about $1 billion and took 13 years to complete. Today, you can sequence a genome for under $1,000 in 30 minutes
- it can take, on average, more than a decade and about $1 billion for a new pharmaceutical drug to make its way from the lab to the prescription pad
- just five in 5,000 drugs that enter preclinical testing advance to human clinical trials. From there, only about one in five of those drugs is approved for human use, according to a review by the California Biomedical Research Association
The global COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the race towards new treatments and advanced technologies like mRNA vaccines and artificial intelligence to make drug discovery faster, safer and less expensive.
Remarkable innovation and collaboration has occurred throughout the life sciences sector during the pandemic. To cope with the global crisis, traditional competitors partnered to accelerate research and develop the fastest novel vaccine in history.
This disruptive pace of innovation demonstrated the fierce competition in the sector and the need for leadership and strategic partnership to secure Ontario’s place as a world class hub for biomanufacturing and life sciences.
The road ahead: fostering new collaborations within and beyond the health care ecosystem
If we want Ontario to become a global biomanufacturing and life sciences hub, then we need to act now. We need to fix long-standing barriers to growth that hinder our ambition and erode our economic prosperity.
Ontario’s Life Sciences Strategy is a key piece in how we attract new investment, develop a highly skilled workforce, and commercialize new and homegrown innovations for the benefit of Ontarians.
We’ve already proven that this strategy works – two years ago, we did not have a domestic PPE manufacturing sector. Today, local companies hire hundreds of employees, export around the world, and help protect our front-line staff. Our collective challenge is to replicate the formula for other parts of the life sciences sector.
We know the impact and opportunity that Ontario’s purchasing power – and Canada’s largest publicly funded health care system – represents for innovators and entrepreneurs across our province. We’re prepared to put it to work to accelerate Ontario-made innovation.
That’s why this strategy announces two critical initiatives to better leverage this scale. First, the Life Sciences Innovation Program will help early-stage companies access capital and advance the commercialization of home-grown innovations in the health care sector. Second, we will work with Supply Ontario to leverage the Building Ontario Businesses Initiative and develop a strategy to encourage the early adoption of Ontario-made innovations. This will take time and the collective efforts of the whole ecosystem, but it is too big of a challenge to ignore at this critical time.
This is only the beginning.
We know there is more to do, and we know we can’t do it alone. Ontario’s new life sciences council will play a pivotal role in defining what comes next, in Phase 2. We are joined on this mission by the thousands of researchers, entrepreneurs, CEOs and stakeholders across Ontario who go to work every day inventing the future of medicine and health care. Their extraordinary passion, optimism, ability to spot opportunity and confidence to embrace risk will make all the difference in the world, and in Ontario.
Our government will be there to support them, every step of the way.