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.


Karimah Es Sabar, Quark Venture


Federal Representatives:


November 9, 2017 Location: Vancouver, British Columbia


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


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
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