Bridging Industry and Academia
Pre-commercialization Business Development Fund
The Ontario Genomics Institute’s Pre-commercialization Business Development Fund (PBDF) is a unique investment fund that helps to enable the economic impact of outcomes of genomics and proteomics research and technology development. Specifically, it aims to provide early-stage funding as researchers move towards commercial applications and to speed up transfer of products from lab to marketplace by helping researchers broker collaborations between academia and industry.
This year, OGI invested in a University of Toronto-based research effort developing innovative methods around an emerging class of therapeutics called macrocycles. Dr. Yudin’s team has developed a novel and effective process for making linear peptides circular. The PBDF funding, as well as support from MaRS Innovation, allows the team to further their efforts, including building a compound library and testing for important properties such as cell permeability and stability. Macrocycles are emerging as a new class of molecules with potential in drug development. Encycle Therapeutics Inc. was officially incorporated in January 2012 and shortly thereafter received a further seed investment from the Québec Consortium for Drug Discovery (CQDM), a public private partnership.
An example of how the PBDF has made a significant impact is ArcticDx. A former PBDF investment, ArcticDx, achieved a number of significant milestones this year. The Toronto-based company, developed Macula Risk®, the first test of its kind, which is specifically designed to determine one's inherited risk for age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the most common form of acquired blindness in the developed world. ArcticDX received regulatory approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to market the test in the United States and is expanding in terms of both sales and workforce. ArcticDX was also named Life Science Ontario’s Emerging Life Sciences Company of the Year. The PBDF investment portfolio is available on our website.
AgBio 3D: Discover, Develop, Deliver
An important part of industry and research community engagement is meetings that bring these groups and regulators together to discuss best practices and regulatory trends. In 2011, the Science with Industry workshop program presented AgBio 3D, a one-day symposium about commercializing an agricultural (plant or animal) product. OGI partnered with DNA LandMarks, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and Vineland Research and Innovation Centre to host this event. The AgBio 3D event featured speakers sharing their expertise in commercialization and regulation of agbio products. Over 50 workshop participants active in the agbio sector of life sciences, including academic researchers, industry representatives, entrepreneurs and funding agencies, participated in the meeting.
Ontario-Quebec Personalized Medicine Partnering Meeting
In November, OGI and Genome Quebec organized a partnering meeting for health researchers and seven companies in the pharmaceutical industry. An equal number of scientists from each province were invited to participate. After a morning of presentations, over 140 meetings were held between researchers and industry stakeholders. These meetings resulted in a number of new partnerships and OGI received overwhelmingly positive feedback about value of such events to both industry and academia.