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Biotechnology, Health and Business in Canada, the United States and Worldwide

Tag Archives: Genome Canada

Monday Biotech Deal Review: March 29, 2011

Welcome to your Monday Biotech Deal Review for March 28, 2011.  There was a flurry of financing activity last week, with over $76M raised or announced in biotech funds (not including the $60M Genome Canada investment announced by the Government of Canada).  Double-digit million-dollar deals included MethylGene’s $34.5M private placement announcement, Medicago’s $17M private placement announcement, and the closing of Novadaq’s $15M private placement.  Read on to learn more.  Read more of this post

Monday Biotech Deal Review: July 26, 2010

Things were interesting for Forbes Medi-Tech (or at least its creditors), which saw a new bidder emerge for its assets. A few placements and other deals closed, some lower than expected. See who made it through the heat without wilting this week after the jump…

More Highlights in Canada’s 2010 Federal Budget For Biotech, Venture Capital and Innovation Groups

My first take on the most important bits for Canadian biotech companies and investors:

1) Looks like Section 116 will stay dead this time!

2) Better for research funding, with Genome Canada, NSERC, CIHR, SSHRC coming out much better than last year.  Grease?  Meet squeaky wheel.

3) Is this the end of the SIFT/SR&ED dealsLooks that way: Yes. Right now!

“Ensure that income trust conversions into corporations are subject to the same loss utilization rules that currently apply to similar transactions involving only corporations.”

Right now = today…

“[T]hese amendments apply to transactions undertaken after 4:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on March 4, 2010, other than transactions that the parties are obligated to complete pursuant to the terms of an agreement in writing between the parties entered into before that time.”

4) The new SMB Innovation Commercialization Program — looks like a made-here-bought-here initiative:

“a two-year pilot initiative through which federal departments and agencies will adopt and demonstrate the use of innovative prototype products and technologies developed by small and medium-sized businesses. Budget 2010 provides $40 million over two years to support up to 20 demonstration projects. To help small and medium-sized businesses take advantage of this initiative, the Government will organize regional trade shows so that companies can showcase their innovative concepts to federal departments. Further details regarding this initiative will be announced later in the spring of 2010.”

5) Some administrative improvements to SR&ED credits:

“In addition, as announced in January 2010, the CRA will begin to report quarterly, through its website, on the time it takes to review an SR&ED claim from start to finish. A new manual for CRA reviewers will become effective on April 1, 2010. This manual will emphasize how the CRA will work closely with claimants so that they may better understand the SR&ED program requirements and process.”

I’ll Drink To That: Genome BC and Genome Canada Launch $3.4 million Grape and Wine Genomics Project

niagara_grape_vinesA team of researchers in British Columbia (UBC, SFU), Ontario (Guelph) and elsewhere (NRC, USDA) will be studying grapes and yeast to bring molecular techniques to bear on winemaking.  Ultimately, they aim to produce a hand-held device to “help growers monitor proteins in the vine or berry at any time” (a “vine-corder”?) that will be adapted from a detector developed by Paul Yager at the University of Washington.

Specific goals of the project are to:

  • Clarify how nitrogen fertilization affects hormone regulation of metabolic pathways important for berry ripening, chemical composition and wine quality
  • Determine the relationship between gene expression patterns and variation in amino acid composition at maturity in ripening berries
  • Develop biomarkers for vineyard monitoring of vine water stress
  • Use a systems biology approach to identify functions for each of the genes involved in the fermentation stress response and the regulation of molecular sugar and amino-acid transporters during wine fermentation
  • Deliver knowledge that leads to understanding the complex scientific, policy, industry and public issues involved in the application of genomics to the wine industry

They have a good head start, having identified 62 genes that are switched on during fermentation, so characterizing those will be a top priority.

Interestingly, the project also includes an ELSI-type component, to “help the Canadian industry and regulatory bodies better understand public concerns regarding the use of genomics technologies in the production of wine and the general food industry more generally.”

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It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Super Provincial Genomics Funding!!

You may remember Genome Canada’s reaction to the 2009 Canadian Federal budget.  Here’s one bit from ScienceInsider at the time:

Researchers funded by Genome Canada … are reacting with shock to news that the Canadian government is withdrawing funding from the 9-year-old organization.

Not true! Cried the Canadian government.

Well, this week Genome Canada’s Board decided  (unanimously) to withdraw funding from the International Regulome Consortium project.  Here’s the reaction from IRC:

Michael Rudnicki, the senior scientist and chair of the International Regulome Consortium, said he is devastated by the news.  He said Martin Godbout, president and CEO of Genome Canada, phoned him this week to say that the agency had to terminate its support because of the budget.

Not true!  Cried Genome Canada.  Well, there’s some support for that, with Godbout citing “significant scientific and management issues;” but more importantly, the recent Ontario Budget included $100 million in the Ontario Research Fund to support “genomics and gene-related research,” so I don’t think genomics research in Ontario is short the money right now.

In fact, according to Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson’s comments at a BIO2009 preparation meeting last week, that $100 million is targeted to rebut any suggestion of a weakening of support for genomics research in Ontari0.

And, right at the other end of the Ontario-Quebec Corridor, a $5 million donation plus a $6.6 million construction investment, plus recruitment of internationally renowned scientists, has added up to over $80 million in funding attracted from various sources to advance pharmacogenomics and personalized medicine research at the new Centre de pharmacogénomique Beaulieu-Saucier de l’Université de Montréal (Beaulieu-Saucier Centre for Pharmacogenomics at the University of Montréal).

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Essex Woodland Health Ventures’ New $900 million Bio Fund

Essex Woodlands Health Ventures closed on its Fund VIII today with $900 million to invest “across the spectrum of drug, device and service companies in North America, Europe and Asia.”  The In Vivo blog points out that this isn’t exactly new news, but it is still good news for companies that are now a big step closer to seeing the money deployed.

One Canadian connection I was able to turn up: Dr. C. Thomas Caskey is an Adjunct Partner to Essex Woodlands and also sits on the Genome Canada Board.

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The Face of Cod

The government has given a $3 million grant to Genome Atlantic to conduct genomic studies of atlantic cod.  This is the first part of a 4-year, $5.8 million project.  According to The New Brunswick Business Journal:

Early maturation results in a slower growth rate for the fish. That means a longer wait before harvesting, and a lower yield on the actual fillet.

By building on the results of their previous Broodstock project – which used genomics to identify the fastest growing, most disease and temperature resistant fish – researchers hope to avoid early maturation altogether. Using eggs from those elite fish, they’ll transition them into sterile eggs and then grow them to maturity.

I doubt this addresses Genome Canada’s concerns, but at least we won’t fall further behind Norway.

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Friday Science Review: February 6, 2009

Canada’s Budget: An Innovation Shortfall

A good piece by David Crane in the Toronto Star today that touches on the BIOTECanada and Genome Canada issues, as well as a broader indictment:

There are some initiatives in the budget that will help. But overall it falls far short of what is required for an innovative economy, one that will deliver the jobs, prosperity and productivity we will need in the highly competitive global economy that lies ahead.

There’s also a comment on Crane’s piece from Mary Serniak suggesting an “idea competition” parallel to the international arts competition that was in the budget.  This is along the lines of a program we’ve been talking about at the Life Science Coalition: an Ontario-based commercialization award of international scope, like the Gairdner Awards, that would seek out and reward internationally outstanding achievement in entrepreneurship.

Update: Another couple of good budget reaction pieces are up at the MaRS Blog here and here.

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