Biotechnology Focus

Biotechnology Focus November 2012

Biotechnology Focus is Canada's leading authority on Canada's life science news. From biopharma and healthcare to ag-bio and clean tech, our readership includes life science professionals, C-level executives and researchers.

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By Luke Brzozowski ACROSS CANADA FOR HEALTH ADVANCING TECHNOLOGY Over the last several years Ontario has made extensive investments into the health- care system, education, and research pro- grams.1,2,3,4,5 In order to capitalize on these investments, Ontario's life sciences sector is following global trends and undergoing a rapid transformation, especially in the field of medical technology. There has been a re-alignment of federal and provincial funding priorities. Translational research and industry-academia partnerships in life sciences are at the forefront of the funding strategy, as exemplified by the $161 Ontario Life Sciences Commercialization Strategy. This trend has led to the inception of new translational projects. Simultaneously, there is an emergence of innovative spirit, a cultural shift towards the development of end-products supported by entrepreneurs and innovators. Universities, hospitals, and other organizations such as the MaRS Discovery District, MaRS Innova- tion, and Health Technology Exchange are participating in this shift, and in many cases are able to find supportive private Canadian and international co-investors. Collectively, the industry-academia-government Triple Helix is nurturing the birth of the medical technology industry in Ontario. The task at hand now is to mature this growing sector. Maturing and ensuring the sustainability of the Ontario medical technol- ogy sector will require dedication to transla- tion and creation of partnerships. A critical mass of innovators has to share the mindset that the metric to measure the success of a project is seeing its outcome implemented into a clinical practice. In order to be- come self-sustainable, the Ontario medical technology sector will need to continue to steadily diminish its reliance on public 22 BIOTECHNOLOGY FOCUS NOVEMBER 2012 funding and move towards partnerships with local and multinational companies, an- gel- and venture-funded start-ups, profitable SMEs, and increasing Ontario's presence of multinational corporations' research and development centres, as opposed to purely sales, marketing, and distributions offices. Enter the Techna Institute for the Advance- ment of Technology for Health. The Institute 'Techna', the medical technology analog of pharma, is a new research and development institute of University Health Network (UHN) in partnership with the University of Toronto (UofT), Techna is focused on the accelerated development and exploitation of technology for improved health. A longer term vision for Techna is that it would expand its scope to include other Toronto partners. It is led by Dr. David Jaffray, the UHN Head of Radia- tion Physics, and a Professor of Radiation Oncology, Medical Biophysics, and IBBME at UofT who holds the Orey and Mary Fi- dani Family Chair in Radiation Physics at the Princess Margaret Hospital. Start-up funding for the Institute of $10 million was initiated by a $5 million "challenge" donation to the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation from Toronto-area philanthropist Carlo Fidani. The Techna Institute was conceived to help innovators to shorten the time interval from technology discovery and development to application for the benefit of patients and the health care system. "It stimulates and facilitates the innovation cycle through a

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