Keeping Canada in the Top Tier of Global Science and Technology - Part II: Canadian Life Sciences

Last week I blogged about the recently released Council of Canadian Academies S&T Report, The State of Science and Technology in Canada, 2012. Today, I wanted to dig into the Report further and take a look at the life sciences sector in particular in the second part of a two part blog posting by asking how Canadian Life Sciences faired in the Report.

Well, Canada actually did quite well in a number of areas and less well in others.

In the area of publications, Canada's share of world papers in Clinical medicine rose substantially from 3.69% in 1999-2004 to 4.09% in 2005-2010. Additionally there was an increase in biomedical research, public health and health services.

The only decrease was in biology where the share fell to 5.23% from 5.31%.

Nanoscience and nanotechnology were the fastest growing subfields in Canadian research, far outstripping world growth rates.

The panel identified a number of important clusters of papers by research impact, as reflected by the level of citations for Canadian research compared with the world average for those clusters. Nine of the ten top clusters were in medicine.

Impact as measured by citations:

  • Canadian clinical medicine research ranked third in the world
  • Public health and health services ranked 7th
  • Biomedical research ranked 9th.

International Reputation: Percentage of respondents who put Canada in the top five countries

Percentage Rank

  • Public Health and Health services 58% 3
  • Clinical medicine 43% 3
  • Biomedical research 37% 4
  • Enabling and strategic technologies 17% 5


Canadian Reputation: Percentage of Canadian expert respondents who said a field was strong and whether it was gaining or losing ground internationally

Strong Gaining Falling Behind

  • Public health and health services 65% 26% 10%
  • Biomedical research 62% 8% 18%
  • Clinical medicine 55% 7% 16%


Emerging areas - where Canada is positioning to be a Global leader - percentage of Canadian S&T experts identifying an area

  • Personalized medicine and health care 35%
  • Tissue engineering 21%
  • Improved diagnostic and surgical methods 18%
  • Aging in place 16%
  • Targeted drug delivery 12%
  • Genetically modified organisms 9%

What does this mean for Private Sector Research in the Life-Sciences and Innovative Pharmaceutical Sector?

Well it is good news for pharmaceutical companies looking for some of the best clinical and personalized health research capacity in the world. However, as I've blogged about before, this isn't the only issue that drives private sector investment and innovative pharmaceutical research expenditures.

It takes a combination of a world class IP environment that rewards innovation and protects very expensive innovative research, a world class regulatory environment that integrates technology and limits unnecessary red-tape while ensuring and promoting patient safety.

For this reason, ensuring that Canada's IP system remains competitive and synchronized with our global competitors through, amongst other opportunities, adopting the IP measures outlined within the Canada - EU CETA negotiations should be a key priority for the federal government. Leveraging this Canadian momentum is more important than ever!