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Cranial Connections: Ontario’s Brain Research is Hardwired for Success

April 19, 2013
Ontario has long been a leader in life sciences research and technology with brain exploration now taking centre-stage. Most recently, the provincial government committed $100 million to the Ontario Brain Institute, (OBI).  An independent nonprofit formed in 2010, the OBI  will help researchers and business leaders develop new treatments for neurological conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s to intractable epilepsy, cerebral palsy, autism and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder. Headquartered in Toronto - a region that boasts one of the highest concentrations of neuroscientists in the world, - the Institute enables top notch researchers to partner with clinicians, industry, patients and their advocates, cementing the region’s position as a leader in brain research, commercialization and care.

These three categories - research, commercialization and care, are in fact consciously interwoven within the mindset of the region’s leaders. Critical to the underlying philosophy behind Ontario’s advances in neurology is the belief that commercialization is a critical step in translating research into better patient care. This belief is reflected not only in the collaborative partnerships fostered by the Ontario Brain Institute between the private and nonprofit sectors, but also in the work of the Ontario Brain Innovation Council, which helps form alliances between industry, research, government, finance and patient advocacy groups to accelerate the development of the neuroscience sector and help bring game-changing technology to market faster.

Rx for Growth

This thirst for innovation and bringing new treatments to market extends well beyond the neurological field.  Innovators, entrepreneurs and established market leaders have flocked to Ontario to take advantage of the unique combination of talent, economic incentive and institutional investment that the province offers:

  • Top ranked R&D tax incentives: Ontario’s R&D tax incentives are among the most generous in the world; when tax credits are factored in, C$100 in R&D expenditures can be reduced to less than C$45 – and less than C$39 for small businesses.

  • Competitive business costs: KPMG's 2012 Competitive Alternatives study of international business costs highlights that Canadian business costs are among the lowest in the G7.

  • Research powerhouse:  More than $13.3 billion is spent on research and development each year by industry, governments, hospitals, academic and research institutions, and private non-profit organizations.  Ontario’s 24 research hospitals employ 10,000 scientists, clinical investigators and other researchers.

  • Critical mass of companies and talent:  Ontario has a broad and innovative life sciences sector that includes some 1,100 companies and organizations.  The Province is home to six medical schools including the University of Toronto, one of the largest in North America. The 44 universities and colleges in the area produce more than 30,000 graduates a year in mathematics, engineering and science-related studies.

The Ontario BIO Delegation: Your Next Big Idea

For business leaders, life sciences companies and researchers with big dreams and bright ideas, Ontario is the next big idea – a smart strategic move towards innovation, commercialization and improved patient outcomes.  The province’s life sciences sector- the second largest in North America- generates revenues of C$9.1 billion each year and generates C$5.7 billion of which is global exports. Building on an established track record of medical breakthroughs – ranging from the identification of the Alzheimer’s gene, discovery of stem cells and development of the pacemaker, Ontario provides the unique setting where leading medical research converges with international business expertise and advanced manufacturing capabilities.

Home to global giants such as GE Medical System, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi Pasteur, Ontario is also where innovative companies like Apotex and Patheon got their start and continue to thrive.

This week, I will lead a delegation from Ontario of over 300, including 17 companies, six research and commercialization institutions, and researchers to the 2013 International BIO Convention and Business Forum in Chicago to showcase the province’s research, innovation and emerging technologies, as well as discuss the province’s commitment to growth. Meet the dynamic biomedical and life sciences companies who have traveled from Ontario located at booth 3631, Hall B.

For more information on Ontario’s life sciences sector and its attractive business incentives, please visit

Reza Moridi is the Ontario Minister of Research and Innovation.