The credit crisis has hit the Canadian biotech industry hard. Investment money has been drying up, companies have been closing their doors and scaling back on research work. And the federal government has been economizing as well, reducing its support for R&D just when it is needed most.
"These are scary times for a lot of the research companies because they need to raise money from the capital markets to pay for the research," BIOTECanada's Peter Brenders recently told reporters.
But the Ontario government hasn't just hunkered down and ignored the issue.
Just last week Ontario announced that it would funnel $100 million into collaborative genomic research efforts. That money will primarily flow to scientists working on new cures for some of the toughest diseases on the planet.
But government support for life sciences work is not new in Ontario, where a string of developers have set up shop. Over four years the Ontario Research Fund has committed $730 million for cutting-edge R&D.
That money will also certainly help seed a new round of companies and programs for the life sciences cluster.
"New discoveries and breakthroughs will continue to be made--and we want those people, those ideas, and those jobs right here in Ontario," said Minister of Research and Innovation John Wilkinson.
Ontario is showing the rest of the world how a bold, focused program can make a difference. Other economic development groups should study it closely.