Editorial - 27-14

Guest Contributor
September 26, 2013

The difficulties companies face when trying to access and utilize academic research is seen as one of the central weaknesses in the Canadian innovation system. Hopefully that is beginning to change with a handful of new strategies being adopted by research institutions emerging across the country.

In Central Canada, the Ontario Genomics Institute is taking the unusual approach of canvassing the needs of industry and forwarding the resulting intelligence back to academia. Its Scintelligence subsidiary sends business development officers out to companies to learn about their future life sciences technology needs rather than push the latest discoveries from its affiliated research institutions. Not only that, Scintelligence is targetting companies in the natural resource and agriculture industries — sectors not typically associated with life sciences.

In British Columbia, Genome BC is spearheading a new research project of HIV/AIDS that will deliver — among other things — a drug test for resistance for HIV patients. The results will help health care practitioners personalize the drug cocktails that patients require to stay alive and could save millions of dollars in the process. Genome BC has worked closely with the government to align its research activities with the province's social and economic priorities. The result has been greater leverage of public funding and real-world results.

As more institutions begin to think outside of the academic box, industry will be more inclined to conduct R&D and innovate. And that benefits Canada as a whole.

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