BIOTECanada: Why Firms Should Invest In Canadian Biotechs




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Video title: BIOTECanada: Why Firms Should Invest In Canadian Biotechs
Released on: December 21, 2009. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks with Peter Brenders, CEO at BIOTECanada.

Filmed at AusBiotech 2009, they discuss:

• BIOTECanada's role within the structure of the biotech sector in Canada
• The effect of 2009's global economic problems on Canada's biotech sector
• the increase in external VC investment in recent years.
• what makes Canada an attractive place to biotech companies
• issues within retaining Canadian talent
• what's to come for Canadian biotechs in 2010
BIOTECanada's role within the structure of the biotech sector in Canada
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision news review here in Melbourne, Australia. On this show I have Peter Brenders, who is President and CEO of BIOTECanada based in Ottawa, welcome to the show.
Peter Brenders:
Thank you for having me.
Fintan Walton:
Peter Brenders, BIOTECanada is the national organization for biotechnology within Canada. You are based in Ottawa primarily because you are the national body, could you tell us about the origins of BIOTECanada and it's real purpose?
Peter Brenders:
BIOTECanada is the national voice for biotechnology. We represent the broad spectrum of biotechnology from health through agricultural, to industrial. We represent the companies within the country to basically support their commercial development of biotechnology and to help Canada get sort of get a footprint in the world.
Fintan Walton:
So, when people look at Canada, it's made up of various provinces those provinces are quite strong in their own voice and so forth, so how does an organization like BIOTECanada which operates nationally interact with the provinces and particularly work with the local biotech associations?
Peter Brenders:
What's great about Canada is where we have a lot of experience in being a great federation and BIOTECanada is no different in that respect. We've created a group what we call a national biotechnology accord where we bring all the regional association together on a regular basis and we coordinate. We work together in terms of what we have with over 700 companies within the biotech space within the country working with the regional associations is still very key.
Fintan Walton:
But your role is efficacy as well, so you've got to try and change the political policies within Canada, how effective is BIOTECanada in doing that?
Peter Brenders:
I think we are extremely effective, we basically focus on what we are looking for and we see changes that the government acts on. And if you look at sort of the three things we do efficacy is certainly a big part of what we do certainly at a national level. But we also work on public affairs in terms of selling the biotech industry with two Canadians, but also abroad. And we do a lot of work in business development, how do we make sure that we can line companies up with each other or even investors to companies and that's not just domestically but internationally.
Fintan Walton:
How many biotech companies are there in Canada?
Peter Brenders:
Is about over 700 core biotechnology development companies, out of that probably 60 to 70% of them would be focused on health technology.
The effect of 2009's global economic problems on Canada's biotech sector
Fintan Walton:
2009 has been a difficult year for biotechnology companies around the world, because obviously of the global financial crisis, what's it been like for biotech companies in Canada?
Peter Brenders:
No question that the global financial crisis has had an impact on biotechnology in Canada as well around the world. But Canadian companies have been in fairly strong position. We've seen a lot of late stage development companies that have had enough money to finish up their clinical trials are taken to the next milestone. We continue to see companies focus and manage their money carefully, but overall I would say Canadian competitiveness remain strong.
Fintan Walton:
If we look at the Toronto Stock Exchange for example a number of the Canadian biotech companies are listed there publically quoted, but also number of biotech companies in Canada are listed on Nasdaq, how important is Toronto versus the Nasdaq?
Peter Brenders:
The Toronto Stock Exchange is an important part of sort of earlier stage investing for biotechnology companies within the country, companies go to Nasdaq, companies also look international listings as well trying to find sort of financing and liquidity opportunities where they come in there. So it's important but it continues to be about one tool for the continuing development of companies.
The increase in external VC investment in recent years
Fintan Walton:
How well developed is the venture capital within Canada in terms of supporting biotech or biotech companies more reliant on venture capital from outside Canada or how is that balance between Canadian venture capital and outside Canada?
Peter Brenders:
I would say today that frankly Canadian companies are looking for a venture capital money outside of the country as well as internally, most of the money we see is coming from the US, we see a lot of US investors starting to realize the great value that Canadian companies have and so we are seeing money come up from the states to be invested in Canadian companies. They all syndicate with Canadian VC's for sure, but I would say in the last year in the last two years VC money has been more external to the country has been coming in.
What makes Canada an attractive place to biotech companies
Fintan Walton:
One of the things that Canada has try to do is to build relationships with outside Canada and there obviously the provinces are very active in that, Manitoba is one of those provinces that has been particularly prominent in trying to promote that, how close do you work with those provinces at a provincial government level?
Peter Brenders:
We work fairly closely with the provinces in terms of promoting Canada's competitiveness whether it's at events like AusBiotech which is a greater group but there are other sort of biotech events that are going that work around the global or we work with the provincial groups as well as individuals in terms of trying to promote sort of Canada's companies and capabilities.
Fintan Walton:
What is attractive about Canada when it comes to biotech?
Peter Brenders:
You know it's the breath of the technology, what's exciting about Canada is you have sort of great research development, you have great research institutions and you have companies that are spinning out taken these technologies that are world leading, what's exciting about it is a you have also a very competitive environment to do the research in Canada. If you look at things like the marginal effect of tax rate by 2012 Canada would be the lowest in the G7, when you look at highly qualified individuals Canada is top in the OECD countries in terms of looking at people that have had post grade or post secondary education college or university degrees. Canada offers an incredible opportunity to establish a footprint in the North American market.
Issues within retaining Canadian talent
Fintan Walton:
What would you say to the common thug when you look at Canada and the biotech industry in there particularly in the healthcare area that there are lots of small companies but not enough larger biotech companies, is that a fair criticism?
Peter Brenders:
That's probably yes, I wouldn't call it a criticism I think that's a fair representation and I think it's pretty much reflective of biotech around the world. There aren't that many large sort of multinational companies. Canada does have a number for sure but it is the partnerships that you need to come there, I think the whole new model that's coming if you are not looking to see the world evolve into creating these you know fully integrated pharmaceutical companies, what we are seeing is Canada's has been very effective in sort of the new model in terms of vertically integrated and virtually integrated companies and so you have a lot of emerging technology companies, the average company size in Canada is probably around 50 employees, but you know they have established linkages, they established licensing agreements with multinational companies, they've established partnerships globally it is very much an outreached sort of industry.
Fintan Walton:
One of the observations one can make of Canada is that you've lot of brilliant scientist, lots of those brilliant scientists have left Canada gone to United States for an example, how successful is Canada in getting those scientists to come back?
Peter Brenders:
I don't think you would say a lot, I mean there if you look at the area there we have seen a lot of companies, lot of scientist that are establishing Canada. Look at (indiscernable) out of McMaster in terms of the work they've been doing on stem cells, we still have strong global leadership in terms of research and development, as often you hear sort of (indiscernable) that you know Canadian technology doesn't remain in Canada, which is not true I think, there is great Canadian competitiveness that establishes linkages globally abroad but at the end of the day you still see sort of a return on that technology back to the country.
What's to come for Canadian biotech's in 2010
Fintan Walton:
We are seeing maturing of the biotech industry within Canada. Today as you say you've got over 500 at least 500 biotech companies that are focused within the healthcare sector, what do you see happening in the next 12 to 24 months within Canada, what are the key events that you see happening?
Peter Brenders:
I think if you take a look at probably the top 20 or 30 health biotechnology companies you look at where their milestones are going to be, what we are going to see over the next year, year and a half is you are going to see some incredible valuations spike ago there as these companies finish their Phase II, finish their Phase III trials and also you are going start to see a lot more in sort of licensing and in partner activities going on. Canada is a tremendous resource I think for the global multi nationals that are looking for great technologies and as we hit our milestones you are going to see sort of Canada be going Wow that's another great Canadian invention.
Fintan Walton:
Peter Brenders, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Peter Brenders:
My pleasure. Thank you.
Peter Brenders
Chief Executive Officer
Peter Brenders joined BIOTECanada as President & CEO in February 2005. Previously, he worked in health affairs in senior management roles at Genzyme Canada and Schering-PloughCanada. Mr. Peter Brenders has also worked in the Ontario Ministry of Health and in the health consulting practice at KPMG. While at Genzyme, Mr. Peter Brenders served as Chair of the BIOTECanada Health Policy Committee and sat as a member of the association's Government Relations Committee. He is currently a Director of the DeGroote School of Business Alumni, McMaster University, a member of the Advisory Council for Algonquin College's biotechnology program, a former director of the Biotechnology Human Resources Council, and has served as a member of the Privy Council Office's Reference Group on Regulating, as a Board member and Treasurer of the Registered Nurses Association of Ontario Foundation, and has contributed to the Canadian College of Health Services Executives and served as the Chair of its Toronto Chapter. Mr. Peter Brenders received his MBA, in Health Services Management from McMaster University. Prior to his brief work in basic research at the Robarts Research Institute, he received his Honours BSc in Pharmacology and Toxicology from the University of Western Ontario.
BIOTECanada
BIOTECanada Incorporated in 1987 as the Industrial Biotechnology Association of Canada, BIOTECanada serves as the national voice for industry leadership for Canada's biotechnology sector. Through our national network of partner organizations, we inspire our domestic and international community to recognize the value of biotechnology and to provide solutions to the challenges faced by biotech firms today.