The Government of Canada invests $9.1 million in disruptive innovation in genomics to improve human health, agriculture, natural resources

Friday, December 9, 2016

Montréal, Québec

Genomics is fuelling innovations across many sectors of importance to Canadians. Investing in transformative genomics-based technologies and ideas will help tackle some of Canada’s toughest challenges, create new market opportunities and spur job growth.

Today, Marc Miller, Member of Parliament for Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs, announced $9.1 million in federal support for disruptive innovation in the field of genomics. A disruptive innovation project offers the ability to do things not previously possible. This involves new genomic-based technologies or the application of an existing technology from another field, applied to genomics, that is truly transformative.  Funded projects have the potential to displace an existing technology, disrupt an existing market or create a new market opportunity.

Mr. Miller made the announcement at the Institut de recherches cliniques de Montréal, highlighting the work of Dr. Éric Lécuyer and his team, who are exploring new ways to manipulate cell behaviour and develop treatments for genetic disorders for which no treatments are available.

The funding is from Genome Canada’s 2015 Disruptive Innovation in Genomics Competition. Twenty projects at the idea phase (Phase 1) will receive support. Another five projects at the prototype stage (Phase 2) will be funded, in order to develop and help commercialize promising ideas.

Ideas to be explored include:

  • a new tool to visualize the millions of genomes that exist in a single tumour, which could lead to effective therapies for treating cancer;
  • the creation of highly sensitive insect surveillance systems that could revolutionize pest management and preserve Canada’s position as a leading exporter of forest and agricultural products; and;
  • a new technology to provide near-instant recognition of infection by DNA diagnostics, which could save lives and ease the high cost of infections not only in human health, but also in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors.

Prototype projects – which will receive an additional $9.2 million in co-funding from other sources such as provinces and the private sector – include:

  • a new technology to make mouse models more powerful and meaningful to inform the study of health and disease;
  • an automated method to analyze cancer tumours making population cancer care more feasible; and;
  • an advanced proteomics technology that will accelerate the development of better-targeted therapies for human disease.

Quotes

“Genomics is a disruptive technology with the potential to fundamentally change scientific research and transform how we approach some of our toughest challenges. The Government of Canada is pleased to support promising genomics-based projects that will deliver much-needed innovations in healthcare and other key sectors like agriculture and fisheries which can improve the quality of life for many Canadians. This investment also places Canadian firms in a leading position internationally, helping to build a strong middle class.”

– Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

“We’re delighted to deliver a first-of-its-kind program that is investing in an exciting range of projects, which have the potential to truly transform whole industries and open new paradigms in clinical practice, cancer care, infectious disease control, and pest management, among other areas, for the social and economic benefit of Canadians.”  

– Marc LePage, President and CEO, Genome Canada

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