The Cross-Border Biotech Blog

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

Tag Archives: Quebec

Biotech Bailout: Five Reasons Ontario Needs to Do More to Support Bioscience Companies in 2010

As we head into another budget cycle here in Ontario, there has been a flood of news showing that other jurisdictions are investing heavily in recruitment and stimulus for biotech companies.  Each one of these investments raises the bar for what has to be done in Ontario to build our own companies and capitalize effectively on our R&D resource base:

  1. Close to home, Quebec’s recently-announced $122 million Biopharmaceutical Strategy is expected to match Ontario’s OTEC tax holiday (not so useful for biotech) and adds $30 million for R&D credit monetization (fantastically useful for biotech).
  2. Across the border in the U.S., things have been even busier.  The Senate version of the health care reform bill includes the famous (/infamous) 12-year exclusivity period for biologics, but according to a BioWorld article the bill also includes “a therapeutic discovery project tax credit.”  Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) also reportedly offered a measure that would create a translational science grant program through the National Institutes of Health, called the Cures Acceleration Network, and that would aid in expediting the FDA review.
  3. Add to the federal stimulus an array of state-level initiatives:
  4. Even the traditional U.S. biotech hotbeds are not standing still:  North Carolina’s $250 million innovation fund is almost up and running, with an RFP out for a fund manager. (h/t @GenomicsLawyer)
  5. And in case you still think we can afford to rest on the laurels of the OETF and OVCF, take a look at John McCulloch’s post on the MaRS blog about his trip to the Suzhou New District in China, which has already incubated NASDAQ-listed solar power company Canadian Solar.

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Image from User:Bdk on WikiMedia under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Québec’s $122 million New Biopharmaceutical Strategy Includes $30 million for Genomics, May Include SR&ED Tax Credit Financing

mdeieThe Province of Québec rolled out a new “biopharmaceutical strategy” Thursday that they say aims to provide “development support for biotech and biopharmaceutical firms.”

The Roll-Out:

The announcement was beautifully coordinated with the relevant constituencies, as illustrated by the near-immediate chorus of support:

The Big News:

BIOQuébec can’t help bragging a little that “the Minister has retained some of the recommendations made by BIOQuébec.” The pride is justified, though.  Biotech advocates have been asking — since before the last federal budget — for a way to monetize the refundable tax credits they’ve been banking.  As part of the new strategy, BIOQuébec says the government will allow

“biotechnology companies within the human health industry [to] benefit from a short term support measure thanks to the quarterly financing of their tax credits.”

Interestingly, BIOQuébec appears to have some information about that initiative that is missing from the government publications (nope, not even in the French version), which only say it aims to “implement new methods of funding R&D tax credits adapted to the specific needs of health-related biotechnology firms.”

Money Talks:

On the financial front, the initiative also highlights a 10-year tax holiday (sparse on details, but expect it to look a lot like the OTEC in Ontario) and Teralys Capital.

Finally, the strategy notes “three specialized start-up funds aimed at the technology sectors” with $41 million each that will be supported by “private-sector partners.”  Is the Pfizer-FRSQ Innovation Fund one of these?  Wednesday, that fund announced grants totalling $2.3 million for genomics studies of inflammatory bowel disease and metastatic colorectal cancer.

My Bottom Line:

This looks like a broad set of initiatives that aims to improve everything from student recruitment through R&D and commercialization to purchasing and reimbursement decisions.  I particularly can’t wait to see what the SR&ED monetization program looks like.  Hopefully we’ll learn in time to work with other governments *cough*Ontario*cough* as they start 2010 budget processes.

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What You Missed While You Were at BioFinance

A lot to catch up on over the last few days…

And last but not least:

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Bailout Updates: Results May Vary

We’re beginning to see a round of adjustments in government budgets. 

On the one hand, some programs are facing further cuts as aspirational commitments meet fiscal reality.  For example, state legislators in Washington are proposing cuts of betwen 50 and 90 percent to spending on the state’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund over the next two years.  Similarly, the government in Ireland, which had funded a remarkable increase in innovative activity, announced an emergency budget that will reduce academic funding and salaries.

On the other hand, some early cutbacks are looking shortsighted and are being reconsidered or worked around.  For example, genomics funding that was originally cut (or not increased) in the Canadian budget has triggered an inflow of funds from other sources: $26 million from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and provincial funds in Ontario and Quebec.  In the UK, where the focus has been on education funding, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council is providing most of the £13.5M to launch and operate The Genome Analysis Centre (TCAG) that will use genomics to support food security and animal health research.

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$250 million Ontario Emerging Technologies Fund Seen, Raised by $825 million Quebec Venture Capital Fund

Ontario announced the $250 million Emerging Technologies Fund yesterday … pretty much exactly what Monday’s letter to McGuinty from the CVCA requested. That has got to be, by the way, either:

  1. the world’s first psychic government relations campaign, or
  2. the world’s fastest government stimulus.

Not to be out-done, the Québec budget today included an $825 million venture capital fund.  The government is teaming up with the Fonds de solidarité FTQ (english), the investing arm of the province’s labour federation, and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (english).

It will be interesting to see whether VC funds who receive OVCF money will also be eligible for the ETF matching.  The Ministry says that full guidelines will be posted on the MRI web site before the end of June 2009.

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