MaRS Innovation was highlighted in the Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE) newsletter on Wednesday, June 22. The article is titled, "MaRS Innovation revolutionizes approach to commercialization, " and discusses…
Biotechnology Focus, a compendium of the Canadian life sciences industry, has published a guest column by Dr. Raphael Hofstein, MaRS Innovation’s president & CEO, and Elizabeth Monier-Williams, director of marketing and communications.
The article explores the way research focused on discovery and commercialization are often viewed or positioned as competitors within the funding ecosystem and the need to align their goals:
The time of Canada’s French and English solitudes may be past, as Governor General Michaëlle Jean notably stated when she took office in 2005, but the solitudes of thought concerning how Canada supports basic and commercial research persist.
This thinking is most easily spotted after the government announces a federal budget, triggering a flurry of opinion pieces debating the breakdown for the $2.7 billion Canada spends on research.
Most recently, Jim Balsillie, co-founder of Research in Motion (now BlackBerry Ltd.), wrote for the Globe & Mail about the Canadian need to understand that “geopolitics is at the heart of commercializing ideas,” and create better policies to protect Canadian ideas, including “better
incentives for researchers to spur commercialization,” such as during an academic’s consideration for tenure. Yet, like any business endeavor whose success depends on people, there’s more involved in changing Canada’s approach to commercialization than just policy.
The people must want to change, too.
MaRS Innovation enjoyed an exceptional year in 2014. Our team continues to collaborate with researchers within our membership to help bridge the commercialization gap between their world-leading research and creating successful start-up companies or licenses.
Here are our picks for the top 10 news stories from MaRS Innovation’s portfolio.
1. Triphase Accelerator Corporation, in which MaRS Innovation is an investor, started the year with a bang by signing a collaboration and option agreement with Celgene Corporation. In October, Triphase initiated a Phase I clinical study to evaluate marizomib in Glioblastoma (GBM) with Celgene, signed an agreement to provide Celgene with an option to acquire a new bi-specific antibody (licensed by Triphase from PharmAbcine) and closed the year by announcing that Triphase’s proteasome inhibitor, marizomib, demonstrates potent synergistic anti-multiple myeloma activity in combination with pomalidomide.
2. Flybits Inc., spun out of Ryerson University, announced a $3.75 million Series A financing with Robert Bosch Venture Capital to advance its context-aware mobile experience platform. The company was also named a Red Herring Top 100 North America winner.
3. XLV Diagnostics Inc., spun out from Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre and the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute, secured a $3 million Series A investment round with Boston-based Bernard M. Gordon Unitrust. XLV’s product will provide mammography image quality equivalent to top-of-the-line mammography machines currently in use, and will do so at a fraction of the cost of current generation systems. The funding will support continued product development and regulatory approval.
Tech Transfer Tactics, the monthly newsletter for Tech Transfer Central.com, has published a feature highlighting MaRS Innovation’s Technology Transfer & Scouting (MITTS) services to St. Michael’s Hospital.
The interview explores the increase in disclosures and commercial activity achieved after MaRS Innovation began offering technology transfer services to the hospital, and was triggered by a July profile published on MaRS Innovation’s website describing the collaborative working relationship between the two organizations.
The interview includes conversations with Sahail Shariff, commercialization manager in the MITTS division, and Samar Saneinejad, director of strategic projects in the Office of the Vice President of Research at St. Michael’s, explores the success
Here’s an excerpt:
MaRS Innovation, a member institution of the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada, has dramatically increased invention disclosures at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto by providing hospital researchers with an embedded technology transfer expert who offers commercialization guidance and access to other vital tech transfer resources.
2013 was an exceptional year for MaRS Innovation. Here are the top 10 news stories from our commercialization portfolio. 1. MaRS Innovation secures a $15 million CECR funding extension In January,…
This op-ed on Canadian biotechnology and the knowledge economy appeared in The Hill-Times (subscription required), Canada’s politics and government newsweekly, September 9:
Obesity, cancer, heart disease and stroke, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, or the more general stresses of an aging population: no matter which area of concern holds our collective gaze from moment to moment, improving health outcomes and healthcare is the No. 1 challenge for the world’s economy.
Canada has the holistic approach and translational research necessary to address health care’s pervasive challenges, with particular strengths in biotechnology.
In 2007, the Government of Canada made advancing translational research a top priority through the Science and Technology Strategy, with emphasis on cancer, metabolic disorders and, most recently, neurology, as part of the government’s response to the burdensome realities of neurodegenerative disorders.
Scientific research has made significant progress in unraveling the underlying causes of disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, but translating these findings into useful clinical treatments is the key to attaining meaningful accomplishments. Only clinical treatment successes will alleviate pressure on the economy.
Transformational research is the essential first step in this process, but even more importantly, it needs to be put in the hands of those who can translate it into realistic and useful outcomes for patients in particular and society in general.
Thanks to research analytics that capture publications, citations, and other significant metrics, we know Canadian researchers punch above their weight, particularly in medical research. Canada’s challenge is not the quality or quantity of our research ideas but our ability to commercialize those ideas and translate them into market-ready products.
Aware of and concerned by this gap between fundamental basic research and useful patient, social, and economic outcomes, the Canadian government established the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) program in 2007. Part of the internationally-recognized Networks of Centres of Excellence suite of programs, the CECR program is a unique collaboration between the three federal granting agencies (the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council), along with Industry Canada, and Health Canada.
Designed to bridge the challenging gap between innovation and commercialization, the CECR program matches clusters of research expertise with the business community to share the knowledge and resources that bring innovations to market faster.
MaRS Innovation was among the first CECRs to be created in 2008, largely based on the founding belief of its members that Toronto is a fertile research land for precisely this kind of translational activity.
Dr. Raphael (Rafi) Hofstein is president and CEO of MaRS Innovation (MI) – the commercialization agent for an exceptional research discovery pipeline stemming from 16 leading Ontario academic institutions. As a single entry point to annual member research and development activity of $1B, MI provides a gateway for investors and licensees who wish to access Ontario’s technology assets.
During the 2012 BIO convention in Boston, Dr. Hofstein blogged about how CQDM of Montreal and MaRS Innovation of Toronto had teamed up to help “fill” the QC-Ontario corridor and why the corridor is good for business in both provinces.
In my previous blog post during BIO2012, I talked about how MaRS Innovation and CQDM had jointly collaborated to form Encycle Therapeutics, a startup that was created around disruptive technology, developed by Professor Andrei Yudin of the University of Toronto, involving the cyclization of biologically active peptides.
A year later, I’m pleased to report that Encycle is alive and kicking. The company has since recruited seasoned management, and its developing product line is drawing tremendous interest from global pharmaceutical groups. In the next few months, we expect Encycle to raise significant capital and establish meaningful ties with strategic allies.
Taking a wider look at the life sciences sector, this has been a vintage year for Ontario in general and MaRS Innovation’s ecosystem in particular.
TORONTO, April 22, 2013 — MaRS Innovation, a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research, today announced the formation of a strategic partnership with Pfizer Inc. to advance early-stage technologies related to human health in therapeutics and diagnostics.
Through this collaboration, MaRS Innovation and Pfizer will jointly identify investment opportunities emerging from well-validated scientific research discoveries within MaRS Innovation’s 16 member institutions, including the University of Toronto and its nine affiliated teaching hospitals.
“There’s growing consensus that transferring technologies from the university lab bench and into the market requires unique public-private partnerships,” said Dr. Raphael Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation. “Partnering with MaRS Innovation gives Pfizer access to Toronto’s robust innovation pipeline and a close look at emerging IP from Canada. It signals both the strength and attractiveness of our commercialization model and Toronto-based research technologies to global industry players.”
“Our government is committed to making Ontario the best place to translate great ideas into innovative products that will gain demand around the world,” said the Honourable Reza Moridi, Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation. “Today’s announcement from MaRS Innovation is an exciting collaboration with Pfizer that will both advance healthcare technologies for Ontarians and help to strengthen our economy.”
A $4-million public-private partnership will promote research innovation involving three academic commercialization centres in Canada
CHICAGO, Illinois – April 22, 2013 – Merck Canada will be announcing today at the BIO International Convention that it is reinforcing its commitment to the Canadian life sciences research innovation sector.
Merck will provide $4 million in funding to the Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer – Commercialization of Research (IRICoR) for future corridor projects developed in collaboration with two other Canadian Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECRs) based in Ontario and in British Columbia.
This partnership announcement was covered by PEHub.
IRICoR will work in conjunction with MaRS Innovation and the Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) to identify, develop and commercialize technologies in healthcare. All three CECR institutions – identified as CECR in 2008 by the federal government – share a common objective: facilitating and accelerating the commercialization of research breakthroughs that will improve the quality of life of Canadians and others around the world.
Every six weeks, MaRS Innovation’s marketing and communications manager writes a guest post for the MaRS Discovery District blog profiling MI’s activities or one of our start-up companies. You can read the original post on the MaRS blog.
By offering early-stage funding in tandem with hands-on management, business development, mentorship and intellectual property protection strategy, MI acts as a commercialization agent for its members and researchers.
Earlier this year, the Networks of Centres of Excellence of Canada awarded MI $14.95 million to continue its mandate as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR), matched by $25 million from membership fees and private sector investments.
So what does that success mean for MI’s ability to serve the needs of academic entrepreneurs based in Toronto?