Despite Ontario’s suffering automotives sector – or perhaps because of it – premier Dalton McGuinty, a former fDi Personality of the Year, is intent on keeping the growth of the biotech sector at full speed.
“There is an argument made by some that in times of economic constraint, such as during the course of this recession, that we should take our foot off the accelerator. I think that would be the worst possible thing that we might do,” he says.
The most recent provincial budget boosts life-sciences funding by C$715m ($657m). This includes the development of a new emerging-technologies fund to help accelerate start-ups in a number of areas, one of which is medical sciences.
“It is important to introduce a catalyst – to use biospeak – to find ways to accelerate activities and accelerate new job creation, especially in Ontario where we understand that many of those manufacturing jobs we are not going to get back. When we talk about innovation and biotechnology, that is building hope for the future.”
The province has also passed a Green Energy Act – “the most aggressive of its kind by far in North America”, says the premier – which is tipped to create more than 50,000 new jobs. “We are providing long-term, predictable, very competitive pricing, so if you want to be an entrepreneur, if you want to build electricity from wind, or sun or biomass, we will give you a 20-year, no-cut contract at a very good price with as close to guaranteed access to grid as you can get anywhere in North America. What that is designed to do, of course, is to lead to an explosion of new investments and new technologies in Ontario,” says Mr McGuinty.