The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

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

Tag Archives: Innovation

2010 Ontario Budget Stands Still on Innovation

Ontario’s 2010 budget was released today.  It contains no new innovation-related initiatives, leaving the province to fall further behind competitive jurisdictions. Read on for more detail, but also see this post noting that signs point to further announcements.

Despite recent strategic initiatives in Québec and across the U.S., and despite opportunities to improve funding for biotech companies without any new expenditure, the 2010 budget chooses to rest on last year’s now questionable laurels. 

The section on “Innovation” in the 2010 budget’s Sector Highlights reads, in its entirety, as follows:

“From the discovery of insulin to the BlackBerry ®, the impact of Ontario inventions has reached around the world.

Today, Ontario’s economic and social prosperity has come to depend on its ability to innovate and compete in the global marketplace. Recognizing this, the McGuinty government is investing in an aggressive innovation agenda to ensure the province is one of the winning economies in the 21st century.”

The remainder rehashes prior years’ initiatives. 

There are two hints  of possible improvements directed at innovation:

  1. A bullet in the “Small and Medium-Sized Businesses” section says the government is “[p]roposing to extend the refundable Ontario Innovation Tax Credit to more small and medium-sized businesses.”  There is no further detail that I can locate on this proposal anywhere in the budget documents.
  2. The Ministry of Research and Innovation gets an increased budget, from $295 million in 2008-2009 to $343.8 million in 2009-2010 and $411.5 million in 2010-2011.  There is no information that I can locate on how these additional funds would be deployed. 

No detail is provided on either item, so the underlying goals or likely effects are impossible to determine.  Although there are increases for post-secondary education and general improvements to the corporate tax environment (the net effect of which against the HST is uncertain), the overall impression is undeniably disappointing.

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Biotech Trends Update — IP Constituencies: India’s Courts Nix Drug Patents while India Courts Innovation

world_map_2002This blog has been tracking increasing innovative activity in India and China as part of our Biotech Trends series, the idea being that as innovative activity increases, the host countries will take a kinder view of property rights.

The trend toward innovation in India is undeniable — as the WSJ’s Venture Capital Blog noted recently, India even has its own version of  Y Combinator, an incubator/early-stage fund.  India also has many notable successes in pharma and biotech innovation, including Jubilant and Glenmark.

Yet, as Ronald Cass notes in a WSJ editorial, the groundswell of Indian innovation hasn’t yet worked its way up through the legal system.  Citing a Delhi High Court decision that allowed generic copies of Merck’s cancer drug Nexavar, Cass infers that India does not “want drug innovation.”

I disagree.  India does want drug innovation.  Like everyone else, India wants lucrative knowledge economy jobs.  But even with a broad desire for policy change, turning a judicial ship is a slow process in a common law jurisdiction. 

My bottom line: It will likely take time, and may take facts more sympathetic than Merck’s, to break with precedent and habit and to develop a more innovation-friendly jurisprudence in India.  Make no mistake, though, that’s the direction India is heading.  Patience, but not complacence, is the order of the day.

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Trends Update — IP Constituencies: China On the Rise as an IP Enforcer

B&W_BlankMap-World-nobordersWe have been tracking increased innovative activity in India and China as part of this blog’s Trends in 2009 series, because it has the potential to impact the constituencies that negotiate the IP aspects of global trade agreements.  Generally, with this blog’s focus on pharma and biotech, posts have mainly considered commercial collaborations to develop novel products.

Two recent stories focussed on different areas highlight just how far China has come from its perceived role as a country completely neglectful of innovators’ IP:

  1. A Thomson Reuters study released yesterday shows “explosive growth in research output from China,” with output doubling since 2004.  There is no way the developments China is making in physical, biological and chemical sciences will fail to translate into innovation and new demands for IP protection.
  2. The first salvo wasn’t in biotech, as it turns out, but in copyright.  According to a recent Forbes article (H/T @TechLaw_Elman):

    A Chinese writers’ society accused Google of infringing on the copyrights of at least 570 Chinese authors by scanning and uploading their books into Google’s digital library without seeking consent.” and is “soliciting all Chinese writers to voice their opposition before a U.S. court finalizes a settlement at a hearing scheduled for Nov 9.”

Still, these developments move China much farther toward being an enforcer of intellectual property rights both domestically and on a global scale.

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Trends Update — IP Constituencies: India’s Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Sets an Example for Canadian Innovation

This blog has been following the increasing innovative activity taking place in India’s and China’s biopharma industries, and Glenmark Pharmaceuticals is a great example of this trend.

Forbes profiled Glenmark this week (H/T FierceBiotech), noting that it started in 1978 as a generics firm but now has 7 clinical-stage compounds and has partnerships with Forest Labs in the U.S. and Teijin Pharma in Japan.

There are two really interesting points raised in the article:

  1. Glenmark is using its revenues from generics to fund its innovative R&D programs. Biotech business models have long incorporated quick revenue as a funding source for long-term R&D; but the typical focus for the short term is on services revenue (because it typically leverages the platform they’re building anyway).  For long-term survival, though, nothing beats tearing a page out of Big Pharma’s playbook.  In Canada, Bioniche’s tenacity is fueled in no small part by animal health revenues, mimicking the Big Pharma animal health divisions.  Glenmark, similarly, has ridden into R&D on the back of the other Big Pharma cash cow — generics.
  2. Glenmark saw a strong IP regime as an opportunity. I’ve been hypothesizing that more innovative activity will drive more support for IP protection in India and China; but Glenmark is an example of the opposite causal relationship:

    “During his time in the U.S., Saldanha could see that India was likely to join the World Trade Organization and that meant come 2005 it would have to respect patent laws: ‘Generics generate cash, but we needed innovation to take us into the future.'”

My bottom line: Glenmark is a great example of how to look to the future and build for it.  Canada has an opportunity now, on a national scale, to deploy its revenue both within the biopharma industry (from our generics companies) and outside it (from our natural resources) to build for the future Saldanha saw.  We’d better seize that opportunity while we can.

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Wait Wait… You Should Hear This!

Ever since I lived in Chicago, I’ve been a huge fan of National Public Radio’s “weekly hour-long [very funny] quiz program” wait wait… don’t tell me!

This week, they did their show focused on “technology: high, low, and really low … a special innovation theme” 

Catch it online here, or download or subscribe to the podcast.

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2009 Ontario Budget Innovation Highlights

Quick dose of info from the Ministry’s Highlights doc below.  More to come…

  • $300 million in capital funds over six years for research infrastructure, which will be available to leverage funding from the federal Canada Foundation for Innovation
  • $250 million over five years for a new Emerging Technologies Fund that will focus on clean technologies, health and life sciences, and information and communication technologies, including digital media
  • $100 million over four years in operating funds for research performed in the biomedical field, focusing on genomics and gene-related research; this funding, as well as funding for research infrastructure, will be delivered through the Ontario Research Fund
  • $50 million over four years to enhance the successful Innovation Demonstration Fund, through which the government will continue to partner with innovative companies to develop emerging technologies, with a preference toward bio-based, environmental and alternative energy technologies
  • $10 million over three years to the Colleges Ontario Network for Industry Innovation to assist small and medium-sized enterprises with hands-on applied research, technology transfer and commercialization
  • $5 million to support the Ontario Genomics Institute, an important partner in fostering genomics research in Ontario
  • $2 million annually in proposed tax relief to extend the 10 per cent refundable Ontario Innovation Tax Credit to more small and medium-sized corporations that perform Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) in Ontario
  • $110 million of tax relief in 2009-10 from paralleling the proposed federal temporary 100 per cent accelerated CCA rate for eligible computers and software acquired after January 27, 2009 and before February 2011.

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