P2: The complexity of driving the bio-economy: Genomics, Canada’s natural resources and private-public collaborations

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
Genome Canada

As a transformative technology, genomics stands to play a key role in addressing many pressing challenges of the 21st century (population growth, food production, energy demand, etc.). With its intellectual talent, socio-economic infrastructure and natural resources, the advancement of genomics in key economic sectors could position Canada to be a major player in the world bio-economy, which will increase in importance through the 21st century.

Yet, many reports find that key aspects of the current Canadian innovation ecosystem (e.g. commercialization, valorisation) are weaker than in other countries. Consequently, efforts are being multiplied to entice greater R&D investments, including attempts to facilitate collaborations between private and public sector entities to accelerate the transfer of knowledge out of the laboratory and into the market place and society at large. In pursuing this quest, Genome Canada in partnership with six regional Genome Centres undertook to develop strategies to help enhance the development of genomic applications across four sectors relevant to the bio-economy, namely 1) agri-food, 2) aquaculture and fisheries, 3) forestry, and 4) energy and mining.

As part of this initiative, sector-specific workshops were held, at which private and public stakeholders explored together R&D challenges and opportunities in their sector and helped map a way forward for successful collaborations that could result in genomic-based innovations, their rapid uptake and wide application, which in turn could increase productivity and improve competitiveness while also addressing growth and sustainability. This case study will draw from this initiative to examine in detail how the uptake of a technology such as genomics differs across various sectors. This examination will focus not only on economic factors (e.g. management of intellectual property, venture capital, trade, etc.) but also consider political, legal, regulatory, social and cultural ones (e.g. constitutional division of power, shifting policy priorities, evolving regulatory regimes, increasing public scrutiny, etc.) to elucidate how research funding can help drive the bio-economy.

Each sector will be represented by a speaker with experience in private-public collaborations, who will highlight the R&D characteristics of the sector and specifically address genomics R&D in terms of economic and non-economic challenges and opportunities. Comparisons, differences and overall trends will be further reviewed through the lens of science policy experts. This case study will serve to illustrate that an emerging technology like genomics, with it wide applicability, nevertheless faces challenges along the innovation pathway, with more than economic obstacles to overcome. It will underscore the importance of promoting successful collaborations so that others can learn and adapt with ever-greater efficiency. And it will remind the audience that due to the multi-faceted complexity of innovation, driving the bio-economy will require concerted efforts and dedicated resources for the private and public sectors to be closely aligned and to overcome these challenges together.


Manager and Senior Analyst
Pharmaceutical Policy Group within the Industry Sector of Industry Canada

Mr. MacIntosh has worked on policy files related to the pharmaceutical sector within Industry Canada since 2000. He has had experience in conducting analysis and providing advice across a range of issues including S&T investments, technology transfer, access to risk capital, intellectual property, regulatory approvals, access to the pharmaceutical markets, and understanding Canada in the global context. Prior to working at Industry Canada, Mr. MacIntosh had a background in federal politics. He has a Bachelor of Arts Honours from Queen’s University and a Master of Arts in Political Science from Carlton University.

Executive Director
Canadian Wood Fibre Centre

In March 2006, George assumed responsibilities as the Executive Director of the Canadian Wood Fibre Centre. In this role, he serves on the senior leadership teams of Natural Resources Canada’s Canadian Forest Service (CFS) and FPInnovations.
For nine years he worked as a field forester for the forest industry in the Thunder Bay and Chapleau regions of Ontario, followed by four years as the Forest Management Supervisor for the Cochrane office of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources.
He joined Tembec Inc. in 1994 as the Director of Forestry for Ontario. Three years later he moved to the mill side of forestry as the General Manager of Tembec’s Mattawa Sawmill Division.
In 2000, he filled the newly created position of Corporate Manager of Forestry Research and Development for Tembec. In this capacity he initiated the Forestry Research Partnership in Ontario and developed numerous connections with researchers and research clients across Canada.

VP, Corporate Development and Communications
Ontario Genomics Institute (OGI)

Dr. Alison Symington joined OGI in June 2010. She brings a wealth of experience in stakeholder relations and outreach to her role as VP, Corporate Development where she is responsible for OGI’s research portfolio as well as OGI’s relationships with external stakeholders, corporate communications and educational outreach programs. Dr. Symington was a Professor and Program coordinator at Seneca College’s School of Biological Sciences and Applied Chemistry as well as an independent consultant for the Pharmaceutical Industry. Before joining Seneca College, she was a research scientist at Sanofi Pasteur, responsible for the development of novel viral vaccines for clinical development. Dr. Symington has her PhD in cell and molecular biology from the University of Toronto

PTAC Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada

Dr. Asgarpour has over 30 years of diversified technical, business, and operations experience in the oil and gas industry marked by providing strong leadership as: • President of Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC) • President of Innovative Oil & Gas Inc. and business leader of Oil Sands Development for Alberta Department of Energy. • Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President of Canadian 88 Energy Corp. • Director of Corporate Strategic Planning for Gulf Canada Resources Limited (“Gulf”) • Director of Exploitation for Gulf • Chief Engineer of Gulf Dr. Asgarpour graduated from Rice University with a Ph.D. degree in Mechanical Engineering, and has completed the Executive Management Program at the Western Business School, University of Western Ontario, as well as the Leadership Program at the Yale School of Management, Yale University. He has published over 40 articles in reputable and peer reviewed Canadian and American technology and business journals in the areas of reservoir engineering, production engineering, enhanced oil recovery, horizontal drilling technology, risk analysis, reserves estimation, economic evaluation, statistical analyses, heat transfer, and solar energy, and co-authored the first Petroleum Society Monograph, “Determination of Oil and Gas Reserves”. Dr. Asgarpour is the past president of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy, and Petroleum (CIM), and he has served the Petroleum Society as Chairman, Petroleum Recovery Institute as First Vice Chairman, Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC), Canadian Institute for Photonic Innovations, and Canadian Photonic Industry Consortium as a director.

Erie Innovation and Commercialization

Dr. John Kelly is currently the Vice-President of the Erie Innovation and Commercialization with the Ontario Fruit & Vegetable Growers' Association. The mandate of this initiative is to diversify agriculture and food opportunities for the sand plains area of the South Central Ontario Region (SCOR). He has a wealth of experience in the private and public sector and has held various executive positions with start-ups and multinational companies, including KeliRo Company Inc., MaRS Landing, Land O’ Lakes, Ralston Purina, Rhone-Poulenc Canada Inc. and Aventis CropSciences Inc., as well as the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. Throughout his career, he has been focused on innovation development and implementation, actively advancing products and technologies in agriculture, food, biotechnology, pharma and the bioeconomy sectors. John holds a B.Sc. (Agr). and Ph.D. from the University of Guelph and a Master of Science from the University of Alberta.

Head of Aqua Health PEI

Jason Cleaversmith has been the Head of Aqua Health PEI since December 2011. Before joining Novartis, Dr. Cleaversmith led the Bioscience portfolio on behalf of the Province of Prince Edward Island and was responsible for the growth and economic development of the cluster by way of both inward investment and existing company growth. His career spans time in Blue Chip organizations through to frontline SME positions in roles such as Business Development Director and Head of Operations. In addition, he was a member of the Executive at the Scottish Association for Marine Science and led from inception the development of their commercial subsidiary and technology / knowledge transfer activities, including the building and population of the European Centre for Marine Biotechnology. During this period he had significant input to the regional innovation agenda in shaping the economic transformation and diversification plan for the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, along with participating in both national and EU focused innovation forums. Subsequently he has worked within the marine biotechnology sector, focusing on natural product discovery for the nutri-, cosme- and pharmaceutical sectors. He is a graduate of Edinburgh University, Scotland, with a major in Geology followed by a PhD in Marine Geochemistry and has subsequently completed an Executive MBA with the University of Glasgow, where he gained a Distinction. He is based in PEI, Canada.