Working Together to Grow Canada’s Life Sciences Economy

Today’s guest post comes from Lisa Matar, President and General Manager at Lilly Canada.

LMatar photo 2013As a child in Scarborough, Bill Blair’s parents would often drive him by the Lilly Canada office. At 5 years old, he remembers pressing his nose against the car window in wonder, asking his parents to tell him more about Lilly.

IMG_7693 Bill Blair employee event - feature image_cropped

Fast-forward to today, and the Honourable Bill Blair had the opportunity to experience Lilly from the inside—this time serving as the community’s Member of Parliament and sharing an important message.

Blair spoke with Lilly Canada about how the government understands the value of a thriving and innovative health and life sciences ecosystem. Canada’s rich history of innovation in health care speaks to this point. From the discovery of insulin to stem cell research, Canadians have been at the forefront of some of the world’s most important medical discoveries.

C47A1354 Bill Blair profile blog imageCanada continues to advance an Innovation Agenda to promote the growth of innovative industries. Recently, our federal government announced the “Innovative Superclusters Initiative”. This program will allow Canadians to submit proposals to help grow specific industries (including health/biosciences) in geographic areas where there is dense business activity, or “superclusters”. The Government of Quebec is also investing $205 million into a new life science strategy to support the growth of this key economic sector.

While federal investments can act as a catalyst, Blair emphasized the central role of private industry investment to grow the innovation economy. Companies like Lilly play an important role through strategic investments and knowledge transfer to other players in the life sciences ecosystem.

Lilly is the cornerstone investor in the largest life sciences fund in Canada. We’ve also invested in Canadian biotech firms to develop innovative treatments for cancer and other diseases.IMG_7689 Bill Blair and Lisa Matar blog image

Our recent conversation with Blair reminds us that if we want to encourage investment and growth of life sciences companies, government and the pharmaceutical industry must work together. Lilly remains committed to working in partnership to promote an environment that will foster the discovery and development of new medicines to improve the lives of people here in Canada and worldwide.