Ontario launches $15 million innovation fund
November 9, 2022
TORONTO – The Ontario government has launched a $15 million Life Sciences Innovation Fund to help life sciences entrepreneurs and innovators bring their ideas and prototypes from the lab to the marketplace. This new, early-stage fund is an important tool in the province’s Life Sciences Strategy, Taking Life Sciences to the Next Level, that will increase Ontario’s competitiveness and help companies advance made-in-Ontario solutions.
“Part of our government’s plan to build Ontario is ensuring that companies, innovators and entrepreneurs have the support they need to advance next-generation health technologies,” said Vic Fedeli, minister of economic development, job creation and trade. “The new Life Sciences Innovation Fund will foster more innovation and ensure Ontario continues to lead the pack in the life sciences sector now and for generations to come.”
Delivered by the Ontario Centre of Innovation, the Life Sciences Innovation Fund will build on the province’s research ecosystem. Eligible companies will receive up to $500,000 to scale their made-in-Ontario health solutions both at home and in global markets. This will further grow the sector and strengthen its competitiveness in key areas such as cancer treatment, regenerative medicine, neuroscience and medical technologies.
“Life sciences start-ups face distinct challenges in moving their innovations from the research lab into the marketplace,” said Claudia Krywiak (pictured), president and CEO of the Ontario Centre of Innovation. “The Life Sciences Innovation Fund will provide much needed support to de-risk early-stage opportunities and accelerate time to market.”
Ontario is the largest life sciences jurisdiction in Canada generating 59 percent of the overall Canadian life sciences revenue and employing 54 percent of Canada’s life science’s personnel. To further collaboration, innovation and growth across the sector, the government launched Taking Life Sciences to the Next Level earlier this year. This provincial strategy will help businesses commercialize and grow their operations and secure Ontario’s position as a top-tier global life sciences hub.
Ontario’s life sciences sector is comprised of a collaborative ecosystem of partners, including hospitals, research centres, universities, technology incubators, start-ups, scientists and domestic and multinational companies.
In 2018, Ontario’s life sciences sector generated more than $58.7 billion in revenue. In 2020, the life sciences sector exported approximately $10.4 billion in goods, representing 62 percent of total Canadian life sciences exports.
The human health life sciences sector employs 66,000 people in Ontario. Every year, more than 63,500 STEM students graduate from post-secondary programs across the province, producing one of the most highly skilled life sciences workforces in the world.
“Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) welcomes the Ontario government’s announcement of the Life Sciences Innovation Fund. Innovation is the key to sustaining Ontario’s economic growth and to tackling the biggest societal challenges we face, such as climate change, food security and health system resilience. With this $15 million investment, start-ups and small and medium-sized companies in the life sciences will receive support to commercialize their products here in Ontario. We must continue to invest in life sciences innovation to ensure our future economic security, health and prosperity for all Ontarians,” said Dr. Jason Field, president and CEO, Life Sciences Ontario.
Throughout the entire lifecycle of innovation, the Life Sciences Innovation Program will target support to a critical early-stage of development – helping entrepreneurs get ideas “off the ground”, complete laboratory testing or prototyping, advance development to a pilot or demonstration stage, identify early adopters to refine products, and potentially succeed with early adoption.
The fund will bridge companies to a point where they become attractive to private-sector venture capital, and/or access programs available to companies at later stages of development, such as Ontario’s new $100 million Venture Ontario Fund (VOF). Overseen by the Ontario Capital Growth Corporation, the province’s venture capital agency, VOF will invest in venture capital funds, bringing additional capital and business development expertise to support Ontario life sciences companies.