Canadian Federal Budget 2021: Good, middle class bio-manufacturing

The Canadian Federal Budget was released today so I am jumping in head-first. Updates will come sporadically so follow along here, on Twitter, The Newsletter, or our newly launched Medium page to make sure you don’t miss a post. Ready? Set? Let’s go!


Of course the budget talks about COVID-19, and a big question going forward is how much will Canada bend its funding to specific, problem-based research (versus fundamental research). The question is complicated and I don’t have a clear picture yet, but some of the priorities outlined in the budget are starting to bring things into focus.

At the outset, the budget sets the stage for putting some pretty serious money ($2.2 B over seven years) into the bio-manufacturing sector. The argument is that it will stimulate “good, middle class jobs”. Here’s the breakdown:

Post-secondary institutions and research hospitals are getting $500 M over four years via the Canada Foundation for Innovation

A new tri-council biomedical research fund is getting kicked off with $250 M over four years. The federal research granting councils are going to be in charge of this.

adMare gets $92 M over four years for company creation and training activities for life sciences initiatives.

If you’re like me then you’ve also never heard of adMare. (If you’re also like me you might think the name sounds like the targeted advertisement hellscape of social media.) adMare is actually a giant life sciences research-to-industry incubator. I find it interesting that they have a specific arm looking for radiopharmaceutical innovations. Radiation physicists take note!

Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization gets $59.2 M over three years for its Saskatoon facility and to support vaccine development. From a quick look at “VIDO”, it seems that they started off focusing on infectious diseases in livestock, and in the early 2000’s expanded operations and focus into human diseases. They have done a lot of work on the COVID front, and currently employ over 150 people. They also have a very cool, retro logo:

VIDO-InterVac.svg

The Stem Cell Network to get $45 M over three years to support regenerative medicine research.

Another area of research in which Canada “punches above its weight” (this phrase is used about 400 times in the budget). It’s not that I disagree, I just don’t like the expression. Regardless, there is some good work going on at the Stem Cell Network, including some nice knowledge translation initiatives:

Woops, almost forgot to mention that Action to Fight Microbial Resistance is getting a boost of $28.6 M over five years with an extra $5.7 M per year ongoing. This going to a couple places including Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Before COVID, this was one of the number one issues on my Global Crisis Bingo Card that I was terrified of. There are a lot of accounts of this problem, but the budget sums it up as such:

The World Health Organization has declared that antimicrobial resistance is one of the top 10 global public health threats facing humanity. It occurs when bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites mutate and no longer respond to medicines. By 2050, it is estimated that as many as 396,000 lives in Canada could be lost to antimicrobial resistance if the phenomenon is not addressed.


That’s not all for biomanufacturing, but the next set of initiatives tie in with some of the larger umbrella funds (Strategic Innovation Fund, Health Research Clinical Trials Fund, Venture Capital Catalyst Initiative, etc). I’ll be getting to those details soon. Again, you can follow along here, on Twitter, The Newsletter, or our newly launched Medium page.

2 thoughts on “Canadian Federal Budget 2021: Good, middle class bio-manufacturing

  1. But promised universal medication coverage (though it would likely be for generic-brand only) is again conspicuously missing from a federal Liberal budget, as it has been with some past Grit governments.

    After the last promise was made, following the 2019 election, the pharmaceutical industry reacted with threats of abandoning their Canada-based research and development (R&D) if the federal government went ahead with the plan. R&D costs are typically cited by the profitable industry to justify its exorbitant prices and resistance to universal medication coverage. However, according to a Huffington Post story (“Pharmaceutical Companies Spent 19 Times More On Self-Promotion Than Basic Research: Report,” updated May 8, 2013), a study conducted by the British Medical Journal (BMJ) found that for every $19 dollars the pharmaceutical industry spent on promoting and marketing new drugs, it put only $1 into its R&D.

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