This week in biotech, Canada’s competitiveness was discussed and challenged.
The 2nd Canadian Science Policy Conference took place in Montreal this week. As with last year, the conference this year was full of well-reasoned and compelling ideas. In some areas, like genetically-modified food, Canada is a world leader. In others, like “Encouraging Investment in Science and Innovation”, we are not world leaders. I had the privilege of moderating the latter panel, where one of the few points of unanimity was that biotech entrepreneurship in Canada still faces a cultural hurdle. Programs like those at MaRS and UTM help, but we have to teach, encourage and reward entrepreneurship at every level.
The importance of global competitiveness in this area was driven home (sic) by news that Pfizer had struck a deal with India’s Biocon that will see the latter develop biosimilar insulin drugs. As the Economist put it, “…to remind the world that new ideas don’t all come from America, it is the Indian firm that will design and manufacture the original drugs; Pfizer will only market them.” It would be great to see “Canadian” in that kind of sentence more often.