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Suzanne Gill: Unlocking economic growth through partnership

Genomics is at the forefront of modern advancements in medicine and life sciences
Partnerships will help unlock the full potential of groundbreaking technologies generated by genomics, writes Genome BC's Suzanne Gill | Yuichiro Chino/Moment/Getty Images

This column was originally published in Life Sciences Magazine. Read the full digital edition here.

In today’s era of transformative innovations that are reshaping industries and societies, genomics stands at the forefront of modern advancements.

Backed by strategic investments, talent and partnerships, genomic research is tackling some of our most significant challenges – from human health to climate change. In this dynamic ecosystem, B.C. has emerged as a world leader in genomics where innovative life sciences companies are providing solutions, societal benefits, well-paying jobs and sustainable economic growth.

This type of innovation and development does not happen in a vacuum. Research and innovation are key to commercialization, and investment in world-class research has endowed B.C. with a competitive advantage. This allows B.C. to attract top talent, enables businesses to produce better products, improves human health and helps us adapt and mitigate the impacts of climate change.

The power of collaborative partnerships

Achieving the ambitious goals laid out in B.C.’s Life Sciences and Biomanufacturing Strategy requires a united effort across multiple sectors. B.C. has a proven record of globally recognized genomics research and now is the time to focus on translating research into practice and accelerating the adoption of innovative solutions.

This will require diverse expertise, resources and investment with partners.

Partnerships have been a critical element of Genome BC’s strategy for research excellence for over two decades. We remain focused on driving collaboration and fostering an environment where researchers, entrepreneurs and policymakers can unite around a common purpose. Genomic investments are crucial for pandemic readiness, better cancer outcomes, improved environmental sustainability and securing a safe food supply.

The impact on B.C.’s economy

B.C. boasts Canada’s fastest-growing life sciences sector, with over 2,000 active companies employing 20,000 British Columbians and generating $5.4 billion in annual revenue. World-class research and innovation conducted at our post-secondary institutions have been foundational to enabling the growth of this sector and to B.C.’s competitiveness in life sciences.

For instance, a report conducted by MNP LLP reveals the tangible economic benefits generated by Genome BC’s activities: By 2026, we will have leveraged over 1,200 partnerships to contribute $4.9 billion to the province’s GDP and created over 51,000 jobs, fostering economic growth at various levels.

The role of early investments

One of the key drivers of economic growth in the life sciences sector is investments in local companies that are harnessing genomics to develop innovative solutions. Alongside research and innovation funding, early-stage company investment helped accelerate the growth of some of B.C.’s largest success stories, such as Aspect Biosystems, Precision NanoSystems and AbCellera.

Genome BC’s Industry Innovation Program (I²) exemplifies this approach. By providing risk capital, I² provides sustainable support for the commercialization of innovative technologies. To date, over $16.3 million has been invested in 14 companies, which combined have added nearly 100 new jobs since receiving Genome BC funding.

These types of investments have a profound impact on B.C.’s economy. They accelerate the growth of companies, create jobs, and attract top talent and new capital. The multiplier effect of these investments ripples through the province, influencing a wide range of economic sectors and yielding significant returns.

The virtuous cycle of success

Partnerships between researchers, industry and the public sector, guided by forward-thinking public policy like the province’s new life sciences strategy, create a virtuous cycle. World-class research leads to innovation, which enables B.C. companies to develop and export cutting-edge products globally and allows them to grow – attracting capital which in turn draws talent to enable world-class research.

This positions B.C. as a global life sciences hub, creates jobs, delivers cutting-edge technologies and services that improve the health and well-being of British Columbians and provides increased tax revenues for all levels of government.

A bright future through collaboration

In a world characterized by interconnectivity and rapid innovation, partnerships are the linchpin to unlock the full potential of groundbreaking technologies generated by genomics.

As the success stories of local companies continue to unfold, and the economic impact of genomic investments continues to grow, the essential nature of partnerships to the success of B.C.’s life sciences strategy becomes increasingly clear. With the support of our dynamic life sciences ecosystem, the province is poised to contribute to a global genomics transformation that will address pressing challenges, drive economic growth and secure a prosperous future for all British Columbians.

Suzanne Gill is president and CEO of Genome British Columbia.

This column was originally published in Life Sciences Magazine. Read the full digital edition here.