Back Issue


reports and analyses of the forces driving
science and technology investment in Canada

copyright 1999, Research Money Inc.

editor: Mark Henderson


Volume 12, Number 12, JULY 21, 1999

How it looks to me.... by Mark Henderson

FEATURE REPORTS | RESEARCH BRIEFS | PERSONALITIES

 

How it looks to me....


by Mark Henderson, editor, RE$EARCH MONEY Another major health crisis could be just what the Health Protection Branch needs to gauge the success of its sweeping transformation. Nearly two years into a three-year renewal process, the division of Health Canada is undergoing change, learning from past mistakes and implementing new principles and capabilities (link to item).

Led by Ian Shugart, the transition team is embedding the Precautionary Principle deep within a new culture being fostered at HPB, in the hopes that past crises like the tainted blood scandal and bovine growth hormone can be avoided or controlled. Five transition teams are hard at work on critical components of the branch's mandate, including new legislation to govern its activities and maximize impact.

Shugart is under no illusions about the enormity of the task that still lies ahead, nor the fact that it's long overdue. That said, the mechanisms are being put in place to ensure that science continues to serve the public good in an era of accelerating change.

Excellent science is imperative for HPB to fulfill its mission, and steps are being taken to ensure that it's delivered both from in-house and external sources -- whatever it takes to minimize public health risks. Canada is better equipped than most to protect the health of its citizens. By using science properly and providing sufficient resources, HPB should be able to look to win back the public confidence that's been sorely tested in recent years.


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FEATURE REPORTS...


  IBM AND FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DEFEND
USE OF TPC FUNDS FOR E-COMMERCE R&D
  RETURN OF STATISTICS CANADA'S INDUSTRIAL R&D SURVEY
SHOWS INTRAMURAL OUTLAYS PUSHING $9 BILLION FOR 1998
  HPB HOPES TO EMERGE FROM INTENSE TRANSITION PERIOD WITH SUPERIOR CAPABILITY AND GREATER TRANSPARENCY
  QUEBEC'S COUNCIL OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
RAISES RED FLAG ON PROVINCIAL S&T CAPABILITIES
  GUIDELINES FOR USING SCIENCE ADVICE
IN GOVERNMENT HEADING TO CABINET

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RESEARCH BRIEFS


  • VGI gets US$30M in equity from private investment house
  • BioChem divests non-core holdings to ABX Diagnostics
  • Chromos completes second round of financing for $12 million
  • Angiotech raises $16 million to accelerate development
  • LMS Medical receives $2.4 million from venture capital syndicate
  • Human Genome Database moves to Toronto with IBM donation
  • York Medical developing antibody with Cuban joint partner
  • ACST to create new panel on Canada's role in international S&T
  • CANARIE launches new $8-million shared cost competition
  • Orenda Aerospace to develop bio-fuel turbine power system
  • Sofinov invests $4.5M to boost AIMCO's Montreal presence
  • Lumenon opens Canada's first photonic chip-making plant
  • Thomson-CSF purchases electro-optics facility in Montreal
  • AMC teams with PE Biosystems to develop biotech components


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VGI gets US$30M in equity from private investment house Visible Genetics Inc (VGI) has received a letter of intent for a US$30-million equity infusion from EM Warburg, Pincus & Co (EMWPC). The investment will leave VGI debt-free and with $27 million in cash following the completion of two related transactions. EMWPC manages $7 billion in private equity investing activities and has an additional $4.5 billion available for investment. The firm will gain a seat on VGI's board of directors....


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BioChem divests non-core holdings to ABX Diagnostics BioChem Pharma Inc is selling the hematology operations of its diagnostics subsidiary, BioChem ImmunoSystems Inc to ABX Diagnostics Inc, Irvine CA, part of the Horibas Group of companies headquartered in Kyoto, Japan. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed and follow BioChem's recent decision to exit the diagnostic field to focus on therapeutics and vaccines (R$, June 16/99)....


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Chromos completes second round of financing for $12 million Vancouver's Chromos Molecular Systems Inc has received a $12 million investment including $4 million from Sofinov to develop its artificial chromosomes for multiple applications, with a longer term objective of focusing on gene therapy applications for therapeutic targets developed internally. The second round of financing will assist Chromos in widening the market for satellite DNA-based artificial chromosomes which are used for the manufacture of proteins that are too large for existing technologies or require the expression of a number of genes for their manufacture....


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Angiotech raises $16 million to accelerate development Angiotech Pharmaceuticals Inc, Vancouver, has raised $16.3 million through a public offering of 1.4 million shares to accelerate development of its progressive multiple sclerosis program. Preliminary results from a Phase I/II study show favourable trends in the drug's effect and will be followed this November by a Phase II study at seven Canadian centres....


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  LMS Medical receives $2.4 million from venture capital syndicate LMS Medical Systems has received a $2.4-million investment coordinated by the venture capital group of the Business Development Bank of Canada. The Montreal-based company develops software to support decision making in the medical field and the second-round investment will be used for further product development. BDC contributed $700,000 with the remainder supplied by BioCapital, Working Ventures Canadian Fund Inc and Innovatech du Grand Montral....


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  Human Genome Database moves to Toronto with IBM donation IBM Corp has donated more than $2 million in computer equipment and software to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children to host and manage the Genome Database. The database was acquired from John Hopkins Univ, which decided to close it down after maintaining it since 1989. Considered the foremost public database for human genome information, it will be operated using IBM's RS/6000 SP scalable supercomputer and its DB2 Universal Database. The donation was made under IBM's Shared University Research Program. The hospital also plans to use bioinformatics software developed by IBM for advanced analysis of DNA and protein sequence identification....


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  York Medical developing antibody with Cuban joint partner York Medical Inc, Toronto, is developing a humanized monoclonal antibody for the identification and treatment of cancers of epithelial origin with its joint venture partner, the Centre for Molecular Immunology, Havana, Cuba. Clinical trials are ongoing in Cuba and in Canada at the Princess Margaret Hospital. York Medical is a licensing and development firm formed to commercialize life sciences products and technologies originating in Cuba. It is actively seeking licensing partners for the antibody products under development....


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  ACST to create new panel on Canada's role in international S&T The federal Advisory Council on Science and Technology is launching a new expert panel on Canada's role in international science and technology. To be chaired by former Univ of Montreal rector Ren Simard, it is expected to be operational by early fall. Selection of panel members is pending. It replaces the expert panel on the commercialization of university research, which completed its work earlier this year (R$, April 28/99)....


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  CANARIE launches new $8-million shared cost competition CANARIE Inc has launched an $8 million, shared-cost R&D program to stimulate advanced networking applications, services and technologies. The three-year program will accept applications for pilot projects for transmission technologies to facilitate SchoolNet caching; advanced, end-to-end applications for new production, distribution and use of audio and full-motion video materials; and, advanced network technology to support transport and middleware services required for future Internet use. The SchoolNet caching competition is underway and the other two commence September 15, with funds to be allocated on an ongoing basis until fully committed. FMI: (613) 943-5377; email: lyne.morin-lalonde@canarie.ca....


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  Orenda Aerospace to develop bio-fuel turbine power system Orenda Aerospace Corp has received $1.2 million in federal government funding to develop and demonstrate a turbine power generation system that operates on liquid bio-fuel derived from wood, grasses, waste paper and agricultural residues. The system is expected to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions. The project also calls for the subsidiary of Mississagua ON-based Magellan Aerospace Corp to develop specifications for a full, commercial-level power generation system. The funds are being jointly provided by Technology Partnerships Canada and the technology early action measures program of the Climate Change Action Fund....


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  Sofinov invests $4.5M to boost AIMCO's Montreal presence Sofinov has invested $4.5 million in AIMCO World Enterprises Inc, a French firm specializing in polymer-grafting processes used for plastic, metal, paper and paint surfaces. The equity financing will enable the company to complete restructuring, making Montreal the hub for future expansion and business development. Commercial applications for the polymer-grafting process include the treatment of pavement to prevent ice formation, food preservation and wine bottle labels that show whether wine is at the right temperature....


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  Lumenon opens Canada's first photonic chip-making plant Lumenon Innovative Lightwave Technology Inc, a start-up developer of integrated optics components and plastic optical fibre has opened a photonic chip manufacturing plant in Dorval PQ. The hybrid chips, made from glass integrated circuits on silicon, are designed to be integrated with fiber optic networks and equipment, boosting telecommunications and data communications transmission capacity. Lumenon was founded last year by Dr Iraj Najafi (president and CEO), an associate physics professor at Ecole Polytechnique and Dr Mark Andrews (VP and chief technology officer), an associate chemistry professor at McGill Univ....


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  Thomson-CSF purchases electro-optics facility in Montreal Thomson-CSF Optrosys, the world's third largest optronics firm, has acquired the Montreal-based electro-optics business unit of AlliedSignal Aerospatiale Inc, a subsidiary of US-based AlliedSignal. Renamed Thomson-CSF Optronique Canada Inc, it will be a subsidiary of Thomson-CSF Systems Canada Inc (TCSC), Nepean ON and will continue serving its primary client, the Government of Canada. TCSC president Norman Smyth will also serve as president of Thomson-CSF Optronique Canada....


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  AMC teams with PE Biosystems to develop biotech components The Alberta Microelectronics Corp, Edmonton, has entered into an agreement with the PE Biosystems Group, Foster City CA to develop microfabricated components in glass and quartz for genetic analysis and high-throughput screening. The collaboration, based on five years of prior co-development programs, will see AMC's microfabrication expertise used to develop and manufacture new products to reduce costs and accelerate analysis rates for customers of the PE Corp subsidiary. Privately-held AMC operates a major microfluidic fabrication facility to develop and manufacture microfluidic and micro-machined subsystems....


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PERSONALITIES


Dr Andrew Woodsworth has been appointed DG of the National Research Council's Institute for Information Technology. Woodsworth obtains a masters and PhD in physics from Queen's Univ and joined the NRC in 1975 developing real-time control and data acquisition systems for radio telescopes. He was responsible for bringing the first national Internet to Canada (CA*net) and headed the Canadian Astronomy Data Centre, one of three global sites holding data from the Hubble Space Telescope. More recently, Woodsworth was Canadian project director for the Gemini Telescopes project. The appointment is effective July 19....

Dr Jack Miller has been appointed associate VP research and dean of graduate studies at Brock Univ. Miller has enjoyed a long career at Brock as a teacher, administrator and researcher with the department of chemistry. He received a PhD in organic chemistry from both McGill Univ and the Univ of Cambridge where he was an overseas postdoctoral fellow for the National Research Council. At Brock, Miller is charged with developing new graduate and professional programs....

John Caldwell has announced his resignation as president and CEO of CAE Inc, effective August 31. The 10-year veteran of the diversified Toronto-based high tech firm is leaving to pursue other opportunities and his replacement will be announced next month. CAE stock prices have languished in recent months, despite strong sales and profitability....

Dr Robert Kerrich has been awarded the Royal Society of Canada's Willet G Miller Medal for his contributions to Canadian geoscience. Kerrich provided the first clear evidence that the earth's oceanic and continental crust avalanched 3,000 km to the earth's core and returned as volcanoes to the surface. He has just completed a $1 million research project to detect trace elements of mineral resources in rocks for a consortium of 14 Canadian mining companies. The award is made every two years....

Gerald McDole has been appointed president and CEO of AstraZeneca's Canadian pharmaceutical operations. Formerly president and CEO of Astra Pharma Inc, McDole holds positions in several health-related organizations, including board membership with Canada's Research-based Pharmaceutical Companies (PMAC). He obtained a MSc from the Univ of Manitoba, a certificate of business management from Simon Fraser Univ, and a business administration diploma from the Univ of Toronto. Astra AB and Zeneca PLC merged last month in the latest in a wave of consolidations moving through the global pharmaceutical industry....

Jeffrey Bacha has been promoted to VP corporate development at Inflazyme Pharmaceuticals Ltd, a Richmond BC-based developer of drugs to treat a variety of inflammatory diseases. Bacha joined the firm less than one year ago as director of strategic affairs and international relations. He holds a BSc in biophysics from the Univ of California in San Diego and an MBA from Emory Univ....

Richard Daly has been appointed president and CEO of Visible Genetics Inc (VGI), succeeding founder Dr John Stevens who remains board chairman. The change in leadership reflects VGI's transition from an R&D-driven organization to one in which sales and marketing are taking precedence. Daly holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and has more than 20 years of health care management experience. Previous companies which he has served include Clinical Partners (president and CEO) and Baxter Canada (president)....

Dr Kathryn Hannah has been appointed chair of the board of directors for HEALNet, a Network of Centres of Excellence focused on the improved use of research evidence in health decision-making. Hannah is VP Sierra Systems Consultants Inc and specializes in information integration in health care environments. She also holds an adjunct professor's position in the Univ of Calgary's faculty of medicine....


RE$EARCH MONEY -- July 21, 1999
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