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Thursday, August 11, 2022

Canada needs to invest more money in science innovation to help prevent the next global crisis

Canada has lagged behind its peers in innovation for decades. Currently, Canada ranks 11th in an assessment of 16 equally developed countries. While our “C” grade is a slight improvement compared to our previous “D” grade, innovation still remains a barrier to high-quality job creation and economic prosperity in Canada.

It’s not that Canadians aren’t creative and inventive – Canadian science was able to rapidly deliver the medical technology needed to provide the first FDA-approved COVID-19 treatment and enable the most effective COVID-19 vaccines. The problem is that Canada doesn’t convert enough inventions into patents, products, and science-based ventures.

While Canada’s COVID-19 successes are worthy of celebration, other innovative breakthroughs are still underdeveloped, far away in research laboratories. In innovation circles, this refinement of untested science innovation is commonly referred to as the “valley of death”.

University scientists are leading innovators

Innovations in lipid nanoparticle drug delivery – mRNA a key component of COVID-19 vaccines – were led by Canadian scientist and entrepreneur Peter Kulis, a professor who half-timed his tenure appointment decades ago to take a leadership role in his co-op. was reduced to Established enterprise and innovation initiatives.

Thanks to Culis, the potential of lipid nanoparticles was unlocked and commercialized over many years with partners and founders from both Moderna and Pfizer-BioNtech.

One of his ventures, Acutas, manufactures the lipid nanoparticle technology used in the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. Without these earlier commercialization efforts, the novel COVID-19 vaccine could not have been developed. Similarly, the first FDA-manufactured treatment for COVID-19 was developed in the lab of Carl Hansen, then professor at the University of British Columbia and CEO of Abcelera.

Close Up Shot Of Woman In Hijab Holding A Vial Of Vaccine
A volunteer holds a vial of Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine.
( Associated Press photo/Maya Aleruzzo)

Hansen is a prime example of a university scholar who demonstrated entrepreneurial abilities while in the research laboratory, as well as later within the new science-based enterprise. Without the entrepreneurship of Henson and his laboratory researchers, much of the social and economic benefits would have been lost.

Given that we rely heavily on enterprising scientists to launch successful inventions, and that science-based spinoffs have been an important component of global responses to crises, it is surprising that scientists or their science have entrepreneurial abilities. How little is done to support the development of a .

Role of the University Spinoff

During the global COVID-19 pandemic, the rapid development and commercialization of highly efficacious vaccines and treatments was unprecedented, and the university’s spinoff ventures were instrumental in their success.

Companies founded by professors or out of university research laboratories include Genentech, Genzyme, BioNtech and Google. These companies influence their regions and countries by providing high-skilled and high-paying jobs. They export products and services globally. Although small, such enterprises also act as a bridge between university research laboratories and established industry.

A Building With The Logo 'Mda' Written In Front Of It
MacDonald-Dettwiler is one of several university spinoff companies in Canada that provide high-quality and high-paying jobs and contribute to the regional and national economy.
Canadian Press/Richard Lam

In Canada, university spinoff companies include McDonald-Dettwiler, STEMCELL Technologies, Carbon Engineering and the previously mentioned AbCellera and Acuitas. These companies also provide high-quality and high-paying jobs, help solve global scientific challenges – such as pandemics – and contribute to the regional and national economy.

The most innovative, highly efficacious and rapidly developed vaccines – both comprised of mRNA and delivered by lipid nanoparticles – were powered by BioNTech, Moderna and Acuitis, working in partnership with large pharmaceutical firm Pfizer.

Crucially, no mRNA product was developed and approved anywhere in the world before a COVID-19 vaccine was developed. Such breakthrough inventions rarely occur in large existing firms, but rather in science-based university spinoff ventures.

innovation gap

The current Canadian innovation ecosystem does a great job of supporting innovations that can reach market success in three to five years, like software. But it is not conducive to slow-growing innovations such as vaccine development or biomedical treatments. Canada needs to support the slower, more complex ones because having a development pipeline allows us to respond faster to global crises and emerging needs.

Currently, the biggest differences in science innovation support occur while the researcher is still in the lab developing their invention. Scientific researchers are being asked to swim uphill for very long periods of time instead of being given the support they need. Thus many potentially influential enterprises are never established, and many successful inventions remain within the walls of the university rather than the world.

Establishing and growing an influential science-based company requires perseverance, determination, skill – and some luck – and if more scientists will embark on an innovation journey, they have better chances of a positive outcome.

a new innovation strategy

The key to better supporting science innovation is funding and shaping it in its early stages, while innovative ventures are still housed within universities – and even before enterprises are established.

Known as a build-for-scale strategy, this approach includes more flexible funding, skills training, stipends for post-doctoral fellows, intellectual property protection, incubation and acceleration services, increased access to prototypes, scale-up and Living lab facilities will be included. and government investment.

A Man In A Suit Standing Behind The Podium
The Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Francois-Philippe Champagne, attends a press conference. The Canadian government announced in April that it would create a funding agency focused on innovation in science and technology.
Canadian Press / Justin Tango

If we train scientists to have an entrepreneurial mindset while still in the research lab, their innovation decisions will give subsequent spinoff ventures a better chance of success. These nascent science-based ventures can be enhanced by existing university accelerators, a continuation of science entrepreneurship programming, and investor-focused mentoring and venture building programs.

If Canada really wants to establish itself as a leader in innovation, it has to purposefully support scientific-entrepreneurs as they seek to translate their research into impactful innovation.

Canada’s newly announced innovation agency could play a key role in helping universities and scientist-entrepreneurs become more successful in bridging the “valley of death” with successful science innovation.

Investing in build-for-scale support will strengthen Canada’s economy by creating good jobs and knowledge-intensive esports companies, and benefit our health, the environment and society as a whole. Such “high quality” university spinoff ventures will also be important in helping to respond to or prevent future global crises.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
World Nation News is a digital news portal website. Which provides important and latest breaking news updates to our audience in an effective and efficient ways, like world’s top stories, entertainment, sports, technology and much more news.
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