It has been a year of good fortune for the Ontario life sciences sector. There have been many investments made and new capital that will fuel innovation within the province and economy.
Ontario moved forward with their plan for a venture capital fund to help companies access the capital they need to grow their business, create jobs, and grow on a global level. They invested $50 million specifically for the growth of the Ontario life sciences sector.
The Ontario Capital Growth Corporation (OCGC) plans to identify fund managers to partner with other institutional investors such as corporations, banks and pension funds. The new life sciences venture capital fund is to respond to the challenges faced in raising capital by innovative, high-potential life sciences companies to scale up and reach global markets.
“Providing much needed capital to growing life sciences companies is a crucial step towards a strong and sustainable life sciences ecosystem,” comments the Honourable Reza Moridi, Minister of Research and Innovation. “Supporting high-potential life sciences companies will create good jobs and help commercialize technologies and services for improved healthcare at home and around the world.”
The fund will also help businesses foster new discoveries, including new technologies, treatments and cures for illnesses while supporting high quality, knowledge-based jobs for people across the province. It will also drive Ontario’s ability to attract and retain talent.
“Capital financing, including venture capital, is essential for many innovative companies,” says Steve Romanyshyn, OCGC president and CEO. “OCGC is pleased to play a role helping Ontario-based companies scale-up and succeed at home and in global markets.”
The OCGC, venture capital agency of the government of Ontario, was created to promote and develop the venture capital sector in Ontario so that more high-potential technology companies have access to the capital needed to grow and prosper. Supporting innovation in the life sciences is part of Ontario’s plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change.
As well as the government of Ontario’s contribution, a $100 million partnership has come to life between MaRS Innovation and Korea Health Industry Development Institute (KHIDI) to establish and foster international research and commercialization opportunities for Ontario.
MaRS Innovation hosted a delegation for KDIHI back in 2016 to present some of Ontario’s most promising portfolio companies and technologies. Since then, that visit has led to further dialogues discussing how both countries could innovate and co-commercialize. MaRS Innovation has met senior Korean government officials at both the municipal and national level to enhance and explore new initiatives and forge ahead with the mission to accelerate scientific collaborations with the highest commercial potential.
Collaborating researchers that KHIDI identified with projects of high commercial potential and MaRS Innovation have ventured on the third mission to Seoul to participate in the 2018 BIO Korea International Convention – one of the largest life sciences and healthcare conference in Asia – to focus on research and investment opportunities. The mission is a continuation of the concerted efforts by Premier Wynne and Minister Moridi during their recent visits to South Korea in 2016 and 2017, and potentially could create a new Global Venture Fund between MaRS Innovation and South Korea to scale-up and commercialize Ontario life sciences innovations and companies.
“This current, and third, mission to Seoul builds on the partnership between MI and KHIDI which started in 2016,” says Rafi Hofstein, president and CEO of MaRS Innovation. “With us from Toronto on this trip we have a wonderful group of high ranking scientists and researchers who, together with their distinguished Korean counterparts, have brought several very promising scientific technologies to the point where they can now be pitched to Korean investor groups. I am also happy to note that, outside the scope of the MI-KHIDI arrangement, South Korean fund managers and other investors are taking note of the entire MI portfolio. This level of interest in a relatively short time speaks to the quality of science and innovation coming out of the research labs of our Member institutions in Ontario, and MI is very pleased to be meeting with potential investors on their behalf. “
Ontario is the largest life sciences jurisdiction in Canada with more than 50 per cent of overall Canadian revenue. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that within Canada we are seeing more investment to develop novel technologies and companies within the province, and more interest and capital from international sources. Ontario is stepping up its game and is ready to play as a contender on the global stage.