Lab Canada

New council will steer biotech policy in Ontario

Toronto, ON November 20, 2003 A new council has been formed to advise the Ontario government on all public policy issues facing the biotechnology industry and to be an advocate on behalf of the industry in Ontario. Called the Biotechnology Council of Ontario, it will also support the province in its goal of creating the third largest biotechnology industry in North America.

A founding steering committee has been developing and refining the council’s concept since early 2002. In early November, key representatives from Ontario’s biotechnology industry gathered for a roundtable discussion to define the framework for the organization. In addition, Dale Patterson, executive vice president of the Canadian Medical Discoveries Fund, was named chair of the founding steering committee and it was decided that the MaRS Discovery District will serve as the council’s secretariat.

Prior to this council being formed, Ontario lacked a strong advisory organization to represent the biotech industry across the province on public policy issues. The council will be open to all biotechnology stakeholders in the province and will strive to integrate the interests of groups that span geographic and functional boundaries. It will be organized into regional councils, cross regional (functional) groups, and an advisory council.

The council’s policy platform will be based on the recently published OnTRAC benchmarking report on Ontario’s biotechnology sector. OnTRAC identifies four primary drivers of the biotechnology business model: human resources, the legal and regulatory environment, strategic partnerships, and the issues involving access to capital.

The steering committee will next develop a long-term operating plan and identify chairs for the sub-councils. A formal launch event is planned for early 2004, as well as the first BCO Public Policy Forum, and a presence at the May BioFinance 2004 Conference in Toronto and BIO 2004 in San Francisco in June.

“Ontario’s strength has been our willingness to work together," says Gord Surgeoner, president, Ontario Agri-Food Technologies. "The Biotechnology Council of Ontario builds on those synergies we have, as different organizations, common issues and great opportunities best managed as a single entity. That entity is the Biotechnology Council of Ontario.”