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New applied genomics projects to spur innovative technologies and job creation in agri-food, health and the environment

August 16, 2018

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August 16, 2018, Lincoln, Ontario – The application of genomics-based research and development is strengthening Ontario’s economy. It is leading to much needed advancements in farming practices, health care, and environmental stewardship. Bringing together academic researchers with companies to accelerate technology development lays the foundation for increased competitiveness, economic growth and job creation.

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Today, the Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, the Honourable Kirsty Duncan, announced federal funding for seven new projects under Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).  Three of these projects are based in Ontario – driving $2.9 million of federal funding into the province, and an additional $5.9 million in investments by industry, the Ontario government and other funding partners, for a total of $8.8 million to support the application of genomics innovations in Ontario.  These projects are designed for significant economic and social impacts in the near-term, spurring innovation and commercialization and creating jobs in Ontario.

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The Minister made the announcement at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. Vineland is partnering with a team of University of Toronto researchers to develop genomics-based technologies that will induce broad-spectrum disease resistance in greenhouse vegetables, allowing new varieties of vegetables to thrive and reducing waste. This will give growers across Ontario and Canada a competitive advantage in a national industry that already generates more than $1 billion annually from retail sales and exports.

In another GAPP project, researchers at McMaster University are partnered with Hamilton-based start-up Adapsyn Bioscience Inc. to use its proprietary technology platform that combines genomic and metabolomic data with artificial intelligence and machine learning to redefine and accelerate drug discovery for novel treatments of a wide spectrum of diseases.  This partnership secured significant foreign and domestic investment and is creating new high-tech jobs in Ontario.

The third Ontario-based GAPP project announced today brings together researchers at the Sunnybrook Research Institute and University of Toronto with Canadian start-up Fusion Genomics to further develop novel infectious disease surveillance tools. Their technology is unique in its ability to detect and genetically characterize infectious viral pathogens through bioaerosols to serve as early warning for disease outbreaks in both humans and agricultural animals. The development of this pre-emergence environmental detection technology will drive a paradigm shift in public health and animal welfare by offering complete genomic data to anticipate outbreaks, inform disease transmission dynamics and enable vaccine design and production.

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Quick facts

  • GAPP is a program that partners researchers with companies and other end-users who will apply their innovations with the goal of increasing and accelerating the positive social and economic impact of Ontario’s and Canada’s genomics R&D capacity.
  • Genome Canada launched GAPP in 2013. To date, approximately $86.1 million, including co-funding has been invested in 23 Ontario-based GAPP projects, fuelling innovations, spurring job creation and attracting foreign investment in Ontario’s health, agriculture & agri-food, fisheries, environment and natural resource sectors.
  • A Genome Canada partnership with Mitacs provides placements and funding for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows to work on GAPP projects within industry partners’ operations. Three post-doctoral fellows will be working with the Ontario-based McMaster/Adapsyn team. The partnership prepares Canada’s next generation of innovators to advance the field of genomics by allowing candidates to apply their knowledge and skills in a real-world setting. Companies, meanwhile, benefit from the high-quality research expertise.

Quote

“Through these collaborative investments, we are enabling the development of real-world genomics-based solutions that will positively impact the health and well-being of Ontarians, the strength of our province, and the growth of our economy.”
– Dr. Bettina Hamelin, President and CEO, Ontario Genomics

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