BIOTECanada: Peter Brenders. Canada's brain gain and exciting things happening with Canadian biotechnology companies.

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Video title: BIOTECanada: Peter Brenders. Canada's brain gain and exciting things happening with Canadian biotechnology companies.
Released on: December 21, 2011. © PharmaTelevision Ltd
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In this episode of PharmaTelevision News Review, Fintan Walton talks to Peter Brenders, President and CEO of BIOTECanada.
Peter Brenders's perspective: Current biotech environment in Canada
Fintan Walton:
Hello and welcome to PharmaTelevision News Review here at BIO-Europe, in Duesseldorf in 2011. On this show I have Peter Brenders, who is President and CEO of BIOTECanada which is based in Ottawa, in Canada of course, welcome.
Peter Brenders:
Thank you.
Fintan Walton:
Peter, obviously BIOTECanada most people will know as the leading Canadian organization that promotes biotech and is an advocate for biotech particularly in lobbying the Canadian government but has a general interest in seeing the biotech industry grow and attract outside investment as well, so could you describe to us, how would you describe the current biotech environment in Canada?
Peter Brenders:
Good question, it's certainly coming out of a long winter difficult financing what we've seen out there, I think biotech in Canada is on a tremendous rebound, exciting things happening with Canadian biotechnology companies today. We've seen over the last two months probably some $300 million in deals and deal flow that's happening into Canada's biotech community from large to small companies are interested in Canadian technology.
Fintan Walton:
So when you talk about deal flow you are talking about equity financing as well as licensing and collaborative type of deals?
Peter Brenders:
Yes we're seeing a combination of the two, the good example of our recent deal we've had in terms of a partnering licensing deal has been with Merck with a company out of Vancouver called Zymeworks a $187 million deal on a preclinical platform technology. In terms of financing we've seen a number of deal flow, we've seen a company like Medicago out of Quebec city do a $25 million round venture equity investment. We've seen a company MSI Methylation Sciences out of BC doing another $19 million round, we continue to see investments like this time and time again.
Fintan Walton:
So what is it about these companies that's making them attractive to investors and to do deals?
Peter Brenders:
Great technology and great management, there is no question that the Canadian companies know what they are doing, they are working very hard with very little capital it's the classic Canadian way you do a lot more with a lot less specially beside a big neighbor to the south of us that seems to have unlimited amounts of cash, so we make do and I think what you find is a very efficient use of capital and companies know how to turn that capital into the products.
Benefits of tax credit for companies based in Canada
Fintan Walton:
One of the other things that Canada has done in terms to trying to promote R&D is these tax credits, so could you describe what type of tax credits a company can get if they are based in Canada?
Peter Brenders:
Canada has a very competitive regime for stimulating research and developed in the country, one of them is our R&D tax credits or scientific research and experimental development tax credits they will pay a Canadian company for Canadian operation 35 cents in their dollar in terms of refundable credit, on top of that you can get provincial credits from where 10 to 15% on top of that, so you could see a company spend a buck get 45 cents back and be able to reinvest that again in terms of continued R&D. On top of the R&D credits we also see governments implementing federal and provincial governments implementing both direct incentives as well as these indirect incentives and so we are seeing also programs matching funds, (indiscernable) funds, Canada is very interested in helping further allowing that next technology boom.
Talent and expertise in Biotechnology sector in Canada
Fintan Walton:
One of the things that people have said in the past at least that some of your best brains have immigrated south across that border into that big country below Canada, what can you do to make sure that one is stops happening in, how can you get that to reverse and bring back those talents?
Peter Brenders:
Certainly it was a question 10-years ago, I don't think we've seen that sort of exodus that people have talked about in terms of a brain drain, I think if anything what Canada has seen is a brain gain in a number of leading areas, you look at sort of the leading research communities where stem cells, regenerative medicines are huge area Canada has been attracting world class talent into the country. I think when you start to see the infrastructure that we have for research and development, the entrepreneurial talent and also the programs that help support companies succeed Canada is a very attractive place.
Fintan Walton:
One of the other features of course with Canada and it's not unusual for large countries like Canada and US has same issue which is different provinces or different states compete to try and attract biotech into them, how does that actually work within Canada and is there are there some provinces doing better than others?
Peter Brenders:
I think there is expertise that differs across the country. I think some provinces if you wanna work in ag biotechnology for example or you looking into the Midwest there is a lot of expertise and talent there, if you wanna work into therapeutics there are a number of leading centres in the country as well whether that be Ontario, be Montreal based or even in the West coast such as Vancouver, there is a lot of great I guess expertise and a lot of great centres that have been established, are they competing? Yes, but they are competing globally. I think Canada works as a team they know that as a large country that we have geographically based, but still a global game and that's where their focus and attention is.
Key challenges ahead for BIOTECanada
Fintan Walton:
So from your perspective you are the President and CEO of BIOTECanada, what are the key challenges that you have now going forward for your organization?
Peter Brenders:
I think the challenges in our organization is like many around the world, it's gonna be how do we continue to support our companies, sustainable commercial development of biotechnology is the core mission of BIOTECanada and what we do at events like at BIO-Europe is helping to show the world what Canada has to offer, what our capabilities are. The challenge for us as an organization as we grow and support them is to make sure that we bring more companies in and that as attractive these Canadian companies are that they don't get too attractive and decide to leave.
Fintan Walton:
Peter Brenders, thank you very much indeed for coming on the show.
Peter Brenders:
My pleasure.
Fintan Walton
Dr Fintan Walton is the Founder and CEO of PharmaVentures . After completing his doctoral research on the genetics of cell proliferation at the University of Michigan(US)and Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), Dr Walton gained broad commercial experience in biotechnology in management positions at Bass and Celltech plc (1982-1992).
Peter Brenders
At the time of recording this PTV interview Peter Brenders President and CEO of BIOTECanada . Peter Brenders joined BIOTECanada as President & CEO in February 2005. Previously, he worked in health and corporate affairs in senior management roles at Genzyme Canada and Schering-Plough Canada. Mr. Brenders has also worked in the Ontario Ministry of Health and in the health consulting practice at KPMG. Mr. Brenders is currently a member of the Advisory Board for the National Research Council's (NRC) Institute for Marine Biosciences and the NRC's Institute for Nutrisciences and Health, a member of the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade's Life Sciences Advisory Board and the Industry Advisor for the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency's Atlantic Innovation Fund Committees for Aquaculture and Biotechnology Sector and Health and Medical Sector. He is a member of the Advisory Council for Algonquin College's biotechnology program, 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 served as the Chair of its Toronto Chapter of the Canadian College of Health Services Executives. Mr. 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.
PharmaVentures is a corporate finance and transactions advisory firm that has served hundreds of clients worldwide in relation to their strategic deal making in the pharmaceutical, life science and healthcare sectors. Our key offerings include: Transactions / deal negotiations; Product / technology valuations; Deal term advice; Due diligence & expert reports; Strategy formulation; Alliance management; and Expert opinion for litigation/arbitration cases. PharmaVentures provides the global expertise to ensure our clients generate the highest possible return on investment from all their deal making activities. We have experience of all therapeutic areas and can offer advice on both product and technology commercialisation.
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 national network of partner organizations inspires domestic and international community to recognize the value of biotechnology and to provide solutions to the challenges faced by biotech firms today. BIOTECanada is dedicated to the sustainable commercial development of biotechnology innovation in Canada. It is the national industry-funded association with over 250 member companies representing the broad spectrum of biotech constituents including emerging and established firms in the health, industrial, and agricultural sectors, as well as academic and research institutions and other related organizations. BIOTECanada has the goal to inspire domestic and international community to recognize the value of biotechnology in Canada and provide solutions to the challenges that constituents face.