Health/Bio-sciences Table

Positioning Canada to be a global leader in health/bio-sciences innovation through long-term sustainable growth driven by the collaboration of health/bio-sciences companies and partners.

Chair:

Karimah Es Sabar, Quark Venture

Karimah Es Sabar's expansive global career spans multi-national pharmaceutical/biotechnology companies, new company start-ups, innovation incubators, commercialization accelerators and venture investment. She has raised significant funds, brought products to market, and has also developed and executed innovation and translation strategies in the life science sector and in biotech investment. Karimah has also received multiple awards and recognition for her pioneering work and serves on numerous health and innovation boards..

Members

  • Armen Bakirtzian, Intellijoint Surgical Inc.
  • Norma K. Biln, Augurex Life Sciences Corp.
  • Josh Blair, Telus Health
  • Jennifer Chan, Merck Canada
  • Ed Dybka, Ipsen Canada
  • Neil Fraser, Medtronic Canada
  • Chris Gardner, SequenceBio
  • Niels Erik Hansen, ARxIUM
  • Huda Idrees, Dot Health
  • Martin LeBlanc, Caprion Biosciences Inc.
  • Rick Makos, Callisto Integration (formerly with PHEMI Systems)
  • Andrea Palmer, Awake Labs
  • Cameron Piron, Synaptive Medical
  • Oliver Technow, BioVectra  
  • Peter W. Vaughan, Canada Health Infoway

Federal representatives

  • Simon Kennedy, Health Canada
  • David McGovern, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Meetings

November 9, 2017 Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Focus

On November 9, 2017, the Health and Biosciences Table held its first meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia. The members are committed to this important venture and see this as a unique opportunity, as industry leaders, to define what an innovation economy will look like in the sector over a long-term horizon.

What we talked about

  1. The discussion focused on how the health and biosciences sector can be an economic powerhouse, drive innovation, and support the health of Canadians.
  2. Members spoke to why they agreed to join the Table, with the intersection of economic growth and better health outcomes for Canadians emerging as a common thread.
    • "My hope would be for the public health care system and life science sector to be more productive so Canada can grow and be a recognized leader."
    • "We need to change the health care economic system, but also to recognize we have fundamental strength in this country."
    • "We are at a pivotal point and need to see how Canada can become a powerhouse of innovation, in bringing better products to the market."
  3. There was a rich discussion around the Table's vision for the sector. It included support to look at the whole health ecosystem, to generate efficiencies and better patient outcomes, and to seek opportunities where innovative Canadian firms can lead globally.
  4. Several key challenges and opportunities also emerged:
    • Innovative Procurement, Adoption and Commercialization—Canadian health innovations face challenges entering our domestic market. In Canada, government is a main customer for health care, so procurement could be leveraged as a tool to stimulate innovation.
    • Digitization and Emerging Technologies—Canada is not leading the pack in digital health adoption, but there is significant potential grow by building on our strengths.
    • Access to Capital and Firm Growth—Many Canadian firms prematurely exit the market rather than growing to scale; what is needed to increase access to capital?
    • Skills and Talent—Specific skills shortages hinder the sector's competitiveness. Also, senior executives do not represent Canada's population diversity.

What we'll do next

  • Task forces will undertake further work on the key themes in order to have focused discussions at subsequent meetings.
We are at a pivotal point and need to see how Canada can become a powerhouse of innovation, in bringing better products to the market.
Health and Biosciences Table Member, November 9, 2017
December 15, 2017 Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Focus

On December 15, 2017, the Health and Biosciences Table held its second meeting in Ottawa, Ontario. Members gathered to further define the Table’s vision and discuss the way forward on key themes identified at the first meeting, with innovative procurement, adoption and commercialization as a focal point.

What we talked about

  1. Table members coalesced around a vision statement that positions Canada as ‘an innovation leader and global hub for health and biosciences’ by 2025. A refined vision statement will be agreed upon mid-January.
  2. A discussion of potential growth targets and metrics focused on employment, firm growth, and capital and R&D investments.
  3. The theme of innovative procurement, adoption and commercialization was a focal point of the meeting. Presentations were given on:
    • Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) – a new program dedicated to supporting the scale up and growth of Canada’s innovators and entrepreneurs, which was welcomed by Table members;
    • Overview of IP in Canada;
    • IP Awareness and Education Program – an awareness and educational program by the Canadian Intellectual Property Office; and
    • Innovative Procurement Best Practices – findings from the Conference Board of Canada.
  4. Task Forces gave an update on the topics they are exploring:
    • The Task Force on Innovative Procurement, Adoption and Commercialization is focusing on challenges faced in different product lifecycles in the Canadian context and examining international best practices to inform recommendations.
    • The Digitization and Emerging Technology Task Force is exploring platform information systems of complete patient and citizen health care information, and the potential that could be unlocked by new technologies such as Quantum Computing, Blockchain, and Artificial Intelligence.
    • The Access to Capital and Firm Growth Task Force is examining how to create more favourable conditions to enable the development and growth of Canadian life sciences companies, and how to address current gaps in access to capital.
    • The Skills and Talent Task Force is considering skills needs across the bio-economy now and into the future, including entrepreneurship training to develop leaders.  

What we'll do next

  • Task Forces will dive deeper into how other countries and companies have addressed issues relating to the key themes. This will move the Table towards potential proposals at the next meeting.
Canada – an innovation leader and global hub for health and biosciences by 2025.
Health and Biosciences Table Member, November 9, 2017
January 16, 2018 Location: Teleconference

Focus

On January 16, 2018, the Health and Biosciences Economic Strategy Table held a teleconference. Over the course of the conversation, members further refined the Table’s vision and targets, and Task Forces provided a progress report on their work.

What we talked about

  1. Table members discussed the vision and the appropriate level of ambition for targets. They will further discuss and develop these items at the next Table meeting in February.
  2. Task Force leads provided progress reports, and discussed some of their ideas for next steps in advancing their work:
    • The Task Force on Innovative Procurement, Adoption and Commercialization will meet for a full day working session to review of international, national and provincial best practices, seek advice from subject experts, and develop proposals for consideration by the Table.
    • The Digitization and Emerging Technologies Task Force will further discuss platform technologies, and potential projects to demonstrate the potential of linking health data to positively impact economic and health outcomes.
    • The Access to Capital and Firm Growth Task Force is focused on how to attract large institutional funds, and how best to build an environment conducive to capturing more venture capital, and supporting firm growth in Canada.
    • The Skills and Talent Task Force will continue to focus on addressing skills and gender parity gaps, access to data to measure progress, while focusing its three priorities:
      1. Defining the skills needs across the bio-economy now and into the future;
      2. Determining how best to work with universities to ensure that the right skills are trained into graduates for the bio-economy; and 3) to attract, grow and retain homegrown and international talent.

What we'll do next

  • Task Forces will continue their work with the goal of developing a list of potential recommendations to discuss at the next meeting.
I would like our vision to aim high and see Canada achieve something great.
Health and Biosciences Table Member, January 16, 2018
February 15, 2018 Location: Toronto, Ontario

Focus

On February 15, 2018, the Health and Biosciences Economic Strategy Table held its third in-person meeting in Toronto, Ontario. Members heard from Ontario’s Chief Health Innovation Strategist, discussed proposals centred on the four established key themes, and refined the vision.

What we talked about

  1. Table members heard from Bill Charnetski, Chief Health Innovation Strategist, Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. Bill highlighted the importance of healthcare system innovation to meet the needs of Canadians and the use of patient outcome-based measurement frameworks to accelerate the adoption of innovations. Bill also spoke about barriers to innovation such as risk-averse cultures and complex data privacy structures.
  2. Task Force leads presented their proposals on the four established key themes:
    • Innovative Procurement, Adoption and Commercialization Task Force looked at proposals that build and support an ecosystem that enables innovative procurement, adoption and commercialization while improving patient health outcomes, increasing innovation and economic development/growth, creating new investments in health technologies and applications, and promoting faster innovation, adoption and diffusion. Discussion included a value-based health system approach; creating a federal health innovation agency with joint health and economic development mandates; expanded role for the Pan Canadian Health Organizations to support innovation; patients’ access to their digital health records; national standardized and integrated patient and cost outcomes data; and regulatory agility.
    • Digitization and Emerging Technologies Task Force proposals concentrated on a complete patient health care information system, and a privacy and data governance framework. The outcome of a national health care information system could facilitate a more effective and efficient heath care system, including improved patient-oriented care, reduced costs and research opportunities that will generate economic value. A supporting privacy and data governance framework could align jurisdictional privacy and security regimes, easing the navigation of regulatory requirements to allow access to, and optimal use of data.
    • Skills and Talent Task Force proposals centred on the need for increased academic-industry collaboration on skills development, internships and work-integrated learning, and talent training/attraction and retention. The desired outcome is access to various skills along the SME life-cycle, skills and talent match between graduates and industry and sustained world-class talent.
    • Access to Capital and Firm Growth Task Force proposals examined Canadian institutional and pension fund investments, and explored how existing programs can be modified or leveraged. Proposals are being refined to enable the following outcomes: access to capital at all stages of development, creation and scale of Canadian-based life sciences companies, support for Canadian anchor companies, increased domestic and foreign investments, and simplified process to listing on exchange markets.
  3. Members continued to refine the vision statement, positioning Canada to be a global hub for health and biosciences, by leveraging and advancing innovative technologies, attracting and retaining capital, skills and talent, and ensuring a vibrant ecosystem that will unleash the full potential of the sector and lead to improved health outcomes.

What we'll do next

  • Task Forces will continue to refine their proposals through March for further discussion at the next Table meeting on April 16, 2018.
To be a world leader, we must leap frog to reach our long-term goals.
Health and Biosciences Table Member, February 15, 2018
April 16, 2018 Location: Vancouver, British Columbia

Focus

The Health and Biosciences Table met on April 16, 2018 in Vancouver. Table members focussed on developing their ideas into concrete, actionable proposals and framing the aspirations they will articulate in their vision for the sector.

What we talked about

  1. Task Force leads presented the proposals their groups have been working to refine since the last meeting:
    • Skills and Talent Task Force proposals centred on the need for increased academic-industry collaboration on skills development, internships and work-integrated learning, as well as talent attraction and retention. The desired outcome is to look at how to match opportunities to needs along the SME life-cycle, and to make sure that the sector is attracting and retaining world-class talent.
    • Innovative Procurement, Adoption and Commercialization Task Force is aiming, through its proposals, to build an ecosystem that enables procurement, adoption and commercialization of health innovations, while improving patient health outcomes. It has identified a number of systemic barriers to procurement of new technologies and is discussing how to foster a value-based health system approach to change the way procurement decisions are made. As well, the Table had a rich discussion about how regulation can be strengthened to adapt to the rapid pace of change in the sector.
    • Digitization and Emerging Technologies Task Force received support from the Table to move forward on a model for digitizing patient health records, taking a 360 view across care providers. It was strongly felt that a national, patient-centric, health information system could facilitate a more effective system, including improved patient-oriented care, reduced costs and research opportunities that will generate economic value. The Table also talked about patient-centered privacy and data governance frameworks, and the need to align across jurisdictions – so that Canadians can access their health records wherever they live.
    • Access to Capital and Firm Growth Task Force a guest speaker from the Business Development Bank of Canada set the stage for a discussion on the importance of access to capital. The Table discussed whether there is a gap in access to late stage capital that is unique to their sector, at the point where businesses must choose either to exit or transform into anchor firms. They also affirmed the value of existing early stage financing.
  2. Members agreed on a vision that includes positioning Canada to be a global hub for health and biosciences by leveraging and advancing innovative technologies, attracting and retaining capital, skills and talent, and ensuring a vibrant ecosystem that will unleash the full potential of the sector and lead to improved health outcomes.

What we'll do next

  • Task Forces will continue to refine their proposals for further discussion at the second last Table meeting in May.
We have to acknowledge that we need a new conversation about economic development and health, where it is not just a cost for society, but also a tremendous driver of economic well-being.
Health and Biosciences Table Member, April 16, 2018
May 16, 2018 Location: Montreal, Quebec

Focus

On May 16, 2018, the Health and Biosciences Economic Strategy Table held its fifth in-person meeting in Montreal, Quebec. Members refined the text related to the vision and targets for the final report, and continued to sharpen the proposals centred on the four established key themes.

What we talked about

  1. Table members heard an overview of the Signature Initiatives, the cross-cutting ideas which have emerged from the series of All-Chairs meetings. They discussed the ways in which these signature ideas intersect with the Health and Biosciences table.
  2. Task Force leads presented updated proposals on the four established key themes:
    • Innovative Procurement, Adoption and Commercialization Task Force shared the latest version of proposals centred on value-based procurement and regulatory agility. Discussion included strengthening government capacity to support health and bioscience firms; consolidation and rationalization of agencies in the sector; the importance of accountability in ensuring positive outcomes; identifying appropriate indicators for evaluating health system performance; and improving regulatory processes by eliminating duplication.
    • Digitization and Emerging Technologies Task Force proposals examined the systems and evidence base needed to develop a national digital patient health care information platform underpinned by a robust privacy and data governance framework. The discussion included the potential of digital health data to spur the creation of innovative healthcare applications; information sharing and patient consent; legislative, privacy and technical barriers to national interoperability; and the benefits of increasing access to the internet in remote and rural communities.
    • Skills and Talent Task Force proposals centred on current and future skills and educational training needs, and fostering attracting and retaining world-class talent. The discussion addressed the varying business service needs of Small and Medium Enterprises as they grow; a commitment to improving the long-term trajectory of educational systems; the value of graduate level work integrated learning programs; and improved alignment of existing government funded skills programs.
    • Access to Capital and Firm Growth Task Force proposals explored ways to enhance support for high-potential health and bioscience firms, and specifically mechanisms to enable them to grow into anchor firms in Canada’s health sector. Table members discussed instruments to develop late stage capital funds, reviewing eligibility criteria for government research and development programs; and fostering more firms with multiple assets and greater potential for scaling.
  3. Members discussed a plan to engage with other stakeholders in the sector to validate the table’s findings and further refine the proposals in advance of the final report.

What we'll do next

  • Task Forces will continue to refine their proposals for further discussion at the next Table meeting on June 27, 2018.
The future of healthcare will be adoption with evidence.
Health and Biosciences Table Member, May 16, 2018
June 27, 2018 Location: Toronto, Ontario

Focus

On June 27, 2018, the Health and Biosciences Economic Strategy Table held its sixth meeting in Toronto, Ontario. Members pitched their recommendations to a reference group of external stakeholders and then discussed how to strengthen the proposals based on the feedback received.

What we talked about

  1. The chair and task force leads presented the table’s vision, growth targets and proposals to the group of industry stakeholders. A facilitated roundtable discussion followed to probe whether any elements needed to be added to strengthen the proposals and whether they struck the right balance between ambitious and actionable.
  2. There was strong consensus among the stakeholders that the Table’s vision, targets, barriers and strategic imperatives aligned with their understanding of the challenges and potential solutions for the sector. They were supportive of the proposals, agreeing that the recommendations were the right ones to advance health and biosciences in Canada.
  3. Participants emphasized the many ways in which comprehensive and accessible health data is a platform for innovation and improvements to health outcomes. Participants also had a lengthy discussion on how to bring partners together to operationalize value-based procurement in health systems, potential measures to attract and retain skilled talent, and strategies to improve access to capital for SMEs.

What we'll do next

  • Members will engage with other industry and health system stakeholders to validate the table’s findings.
  • Write the strategy table’s final report.
Economic growth and improved health outcomes are not mutually exclusive—they should go hand in hand
Health and Biosciences Table Member,June 27, 2018
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