Canadian Highlights from BIO 2016

Last week, leaders in biotech gathered in San Francisco to discuss advances and developments at the BIO 2016 convention. The event draws a diverse group of attendees: Canadian ministers and members of the delegation alongside biotech and pharma professionals to discover new opportunities for promising partnerships.

Some great collaborations have come out of this annual meeting in previous years, and BIO 2016 was no exception. The ideas and collaborations that resulted from this year’s convention make it clear that we’re living in an amazing time for discovery.  

Naveep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, shared an insightful look at the future of Canadian innovation and the promise of growth in the life sciences industry. Other highlights included an announcement from the CQDM and Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) for funding of six new drug discovery projects under the Quebec-Ontario Life Sciences Corridor totaling $1.8 million. Zymeworks Inc. and Northern Biologics were recognized with the BIOTECanada Gold Leaf Award for excellence in Canadian biotech. And Montreal InVivo and the Canadian Clinical Trials Coordinating Centre (CCTCC) announced an exciting new partnership that will make clinical trial investigators’ data available through the Canadian ClinicalTrials Asset Map (CCTAM).

But the BIO conference isn’t just an opportunity to showcase the latest and greatest in biotech. It also results in discussions about what is needed to make Canada a better place for companies in the life sciences to innovate and invest. Discussion focused on the need for a more stable and predictable intellectual property protection environment, along with the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA). Similarly, the value of a competitive clinical trials environment was a key topic of conversation. Overall, there was a consensus that an increase in collaboration at all levels was needed to achieve better access to medicines for patients.  

Developments from BIO serve as a reminder that there is no single solution to encouraging medical innovation in Canada. Instead, progress relies on a diverse group of stakeholders working together with all levels of government, academia, and industry to make life better for Canadians.