BioNova Executive Director Scott Moffitt was recently interviewed on the Discover Halifax Podcast as part of their Innovation and Life Sciences in Nova Scotia episode. During the podcast, Scott spoke about the successes and potential of the sector in the province, region, and beyond, as well as the need for further collaboration with the provincial government.
“The vision for BioNova today is really to elevate the Health and Life Sciences sector to be a pivotal pillar of the future economy of Nova Scotia. Everybody realizes that we’re moving slowly away from resource-based economies, but we truly believe that this sector, with the assets that we have here, can be one of the top three sectors in this entire province. Our goal and vision is to have that.” — Scott Moffitt.
Listen to the podcast episode here.
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BioNova has added its voice alongside a group of 18 other health sciences and business associations asking for a national life sciences strategy and increased collaboration. The online campaign, led by Life Sciences Ontario, began with an open letter addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Jason Field, president and CEO of Life Sciences Ontario, told Research Money in an interview that they are pushing for a strategy that will cut across government agencies and ministries. He noted that the sector is unique in that it affects not only researchers and private companies, but also patients, hospitals and the broader healthcare system.
The Hill Times: April 12, 2021
New life sciences campaign aims to break down silos between innovation, economic development and health policies
By: Tessie Sanci
A new public-facing campaign launched on April 12 is asking federal politicians to work on a national life sciences strategy that allows for a more cohesive approach to health, innovation and economic policies
The campaign is led by Life Sciences Ontario (LSO), whose members include various pharmaceutical companies, consulting firms and research universities. It begins with an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) published in the print editions of newspapers that include The Hill Times, The Globe and Mail and Le Devoir, and online in daily national and political newspapers including the National Post and La Presse. The letter tells Trudeau that a life sciences strategy requires “more collaboration” between the sector, health researchers, the patient community and governments, and “less uncertain and complex regulations that are blocking our ability to move at the speed of science.”
There are 19 signatories to the letter, representing the life sciences, health research, and business communities. (A full list is available at the end of the article.)
After working for at least five years to encourage the Ontario government to develop a life sciences strategy, the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting problems with vaccine supply provided an opportunity to elevate the conversation to the federal level, according to Jason Field, president and CEO at LSO.
“What we’re trying to say here is that we need … an all-government approach, where we talk about other mechanisms of investment. That includes health regulation, procurement regulation and how we commercialize our innovation out of our research communities and partnerships,” Field said in a phone interview with Hill Times Research on April 12. “We’ve got to take a more holistic comprehensive view from soup to nuts with this sector.”
The “biggest breakthrough” from this campaign would be if it encouraged governments in Canada to work outside of their siloed departments, said Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, in a phone interview with Hill Times Research on April 12. The chamber is a signatory to the open letter.
“When you talk to people in economic development, whether at the provincial level or the federal level, they get the potential of high-value jobs and return on investment of the medical sciences,” he said. “Then you go over to the ministries of health in respective federal or provincial [governments], and then it’s an adversarial relationship that is … all about how do we drive the cost down to the lowest possible.”
Champagne takes ministerial lead on biomanufacturing
The federal Liberals have been open about their desire to improve domestic biomanufacturing capacity in light of the logistical challenges that have impacted Canada’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Although there are Canadian companies working on a pharmaceutical response to the pandemic, the federal government has had to rely on foreign manufacturers in order to get large numbers of vaccines into the country quickly.
Trudeau has tasked François-Philippe Champagne (Saint-Maurice—Champlain, Que.) with the job of enhancing Canada’s life sciences industry in his new role as innovation minister. One of the first major steps was a public consultation on how to improve biomanufacturing capacity that ended on March 12.
Another more recent initiative was substantial federal funding to the tune of $415 million to help Sanofi Pasteur Limited build a new end-to-end vaccine manufacturing facility on Sanofi’s existing site in Toronto. The Ontario government is contributing $55 million, and Sanofi will invest more than $455 million.
An experienced minister who is on his fourth portfolio since first being elected in 2015, Champagne seems enthusiastic about his new role and has publicly commented on phone and text conversations he’s having with the CEOs of pharma companies. During a March 25 event organized by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (which is also a participant in LSO’s life sciences campaign), Champagne told chamber president Perrin Beatty that he is open to discussing executives’ policy concerns, but he’s appealing to these executives to help him begin to build a life sciences ecosystem.
Field has been involved in larger group discussions with Champagne, and has observed the minister’s enthusiasm first-hand, he said, but there’s only so much Champagne can do on his own.
“I think the challenge that we face is that there’s still these silos that are happening between innovation, economic and health policies. While the minister may be very engaged and very enthusiastic, I think there are limits within his mandate that he’s been given. For example, I think that’s why we saw a huge investment in Sanofi because that was part of the tools he has in his toolbox,” Field said.
Possible policy avenues for a life sciences strategy include incentivizing private investment in the sector through tax policy, leveraging pension fund investments, and finding ways to improve efficiency in regulatory processes, according to Field.
COVID-19 saw Health Canada disrupt its traditional regulatory processes in order to provide access to vaccines and therapeutics more quickly. For example, vaccine candidates are being submitted for department approval using a rolling submission process, allowing the regulator to begin to review the candidate’s early data while the manufacturer continues to collect more advanced data. The traditional process would have required manufacturers to complete all steps within a clinical trial process before submitting their product for review.
Jobs, revenue and “cheap insurance”
Rossi is calling on governments to move away from looking at life sciences as a cost and instead look to it as a generator of revenue and jobs. A 2019 Deloitte report commissioned by LSO found that Ontario’s life sciences sector generated an estimated $56.8 billion in revenue in 2016, and an estimated 91,000 jobs in 2017. The sector also produces wages that are 24 per cent higher than the provincial average, the report states.
He also called a more positive relationship between governments and the sector “cheap insurance.”
“Clearly, the countries in the world that developed relationships and not transactions have done better in the [COVID-19 vaccine] rollout,” he said, pointing to the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel as examples of countries who are ahead in their rollout and also have a domestic pharmaceutical presence.
But drug costs have been a significant focus, especially for the current Liberal government. Since first coming into power under Trudeau’s leadership in 2015, the government has focused on bringing down drug costs through a national pharmacare program and changing how drug prices are regulated by the Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB).
Like many pharmaceutical companies and organizations representing those companies, LSO has come out against the PMPRB rule changes that are scheduled to be in effect this July. However, Field said this particular campaign is “not a thinly veiled message around PMPRB.”
“I want to be very clear that this [public letter] is not a letter about PMPRB,” he said. “PMPRB is a symptom of what I would call a bigger problem. And that bigger problem is this lack of alignment across innovation, economic and health policy. That’s the underlying challenge that we want to tackle.”
In addition to getting the attention of the prime minister, Fields is hoping to attract other voices that want to be a part of this initiative, saying he’d like to see this become a “little bit of a movement to encourage the federal government to really come to the table with us.”
Rossi’s perspective is that the pandemic has shown that there are different ways of looking at cost, saying that Canada’s lagging vaccine rollout has produced unprecedented levels of costs to the country.
“What that [lag] is costing in terms of lives and livelihoods, in terms of government expenditure, it makes the debates over the drug costs seem like penny-ante. We’re talking about the largest deficits and debts created in our history – bigger than the Second World War,” he said.
Canada’s deficit was pegged at $381.6 billion when the federal Liberals’ economic statement was unveiled last September, which does not account for any spending that has occurred in the last six months. An updated accounting is expected in the 2021 budget, which will be published on April 19.
Signatories to the life sciences campaign:
- Bioscience Association Manitoba
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce
- Canadian Health Research Forum
- Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal
- Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec
- Innovative Medicines Canada
- LifeSciences BC
- Life Sciences Ontario
- Medtech Canada
- Mississauga Board of Trade
- Montréal InVivo
- Ontario Chamber of Commerce
- Prince Edward Island BioAlliance
- Québec International
- Canadian Forum for Rare Disease Innovators (RAREi)
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December 16, 2020 – Halifax, Canada – Sona Nanotech Inc. (CSE: SONA), (OTCQB: SNANF) (the “Company”, “Sona”) a developer of rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests, is pleased to announce that it has closed its non-brokered private placement that was announced on December 3, 2020 with the issuance of 2,259,200 units at $1.00 per unit.
The final amount of the offering represents an increase from the Company’s previously announced intention to raise up to $2,000,000 through a non-brokered private placement (the “Financing”) of up to 2,000,000 units of Sona (each, a “Unit”) at $1.00 per Unit due to investor interest. Each Unit consists of one common share of Sona (a “Common Share”) and one-half of a Common Share purchase warrant (each whole Common Share purchase warrant, a “Warrant”). Each Warrant is exercisable to purchase one additional Common Share of Sona at a price of $1.25 per Common Share for a period of 24 months from the closing date of the Financing (the “Closing Date”).
As previously disclosed, the Company intends to use the net proceeds of the Financing to produce further clinical trial data for its rapid COVID-19 antigen nasal pharyngeal test, pursue a European regulatory self-certification CE Mark declaration, and pursue further development and clinical trial validation work for its saliva-based prototype version of the test, as well as for general working capital purposes.
The Company is currently working with several potential partners to secure a clinical trial. Any trial would require a sponsoring institution, a principal investigator, a study protocol, relevant medical ethics review board approval and Health Canada Investigational Testing Division approval. Separately, the Company also advises that its CE Marking process in Europe commenced with the appointment of Obelis. The Company will update the market as material developments occur.
Investor Relations Contact:
604 684 6730 | 1 866 684 6730
About Sona Nanotech Inc.
Sona Nanotech is a nanotechnology life sciences firm that has developed multiple proprietary methods for the manufacture of various types of gold nanoparticles. The principal business carried out and intended to be continued by Sona is the development and application of its proprietary technologies for use in multiplex diagnostic testing platforms that will improve performance over existing tests in the market. Sona Nanotech’s gold nanorod particles are CTAB (cetyltrimethylammonium) free, eliminating the toxicity risks associated with the use of other gold nanorod technologies in medical applications. It is expected that Sona Nanotech’s gold nanotechnologies may be adapted for use in applications, as a safe and effective delivery system for multiple medical treatments, subject to the approval of various regulatory boards, including Health Canada and the FDA.
NEITHER THE CANADIAN SECURITIES EXCHANGE NOR ITS REGULATION SERVICES PROVIDER (AS THAT TERM IS DEFINED IN THE POLICIES OF THE CANADIAN SECURITIES EXCHANGE) ACCEPTS RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE ADEQUACY OR ACCURACY OF THIS RELEASE.
CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION: This press release includes certain “forward-looking statements” under applicable Canadian securities legislation, including statements regarding Sona’s planned applications and trials for its technology. Forward-looking statements are necessarily based upon a number of estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors which may cause the actual results and future events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements, including the risk that Sona may not be successful in obtaining additional data necessary for regulatory approvals, or in obtaining required approvals once additional data is available, that potential customers may not adopt its products, that Sona’s saliva test technology may not prove to deliver the same level of testing accuracy and sensitivity as its nasal pharyngeal swab-based test, that Sona may not be successful in identifying or reaching agreements with additional manufacturing partners, that Sona’s manufacturing partners are not able to scale up manufacturing of Sona’s products to the anticipated level, that raw materials may not be available in the amounts or on the schedules required to achieve Sona’s manufacturing targets, that Sona may not be able to obtain further clinical data, that Sona may not re-submit to the FDA and Health Canada, and that regulatory requirements may change. There can be no assurance that such statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements. Sona disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.
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Simple and reliable validation of Pneumatic Tube Systems for blood sample integrity monitoring
Halifax, Canada, December 2020 – Motryx, provider of blood transport validation and verification services, today announced a partnership with Aerocom, a global leader in Pneumatic Tube Systems, for the joint provision of VitalQC – a quality assurance tool to validate pneumatic tube installations for safe and effective transport of blood samples with minimal impacts on integrity and diagnostics.
The efficiency of pneumatic systems has made them standard in most large hospitals worldwide; however, they must be confirmed as safe for the transport of blood samples from patient to lab. Under this new agreement, Aerocom will use Motryx’s VitalQC to monitor and continue to innovate on their >2000 hospital installations and will be the European provider of VitalQC to 10 European countries: Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Norway, Spain, Italy, France, UK and Ireland.
“Aerocom pneumatic tube systems have been designed to reduce the impact on blood sample transport. Quality assurance for blood transportation in pneumatic tube systems is quickly becoming a requirement for our customers to satisfy regulatory requirements. With the Motryx agreement, Aerocom raises the bar in providing quality assurance. This agreement enables Aerocom to offer an even better and more complete solution to laboratories and hospitals around the world,” said Roland Pfitzer, CEO at Aerocom.
“Since Motryx’s inception, we have focused on developing a new standard for quality control for Pneumatic Tube Systems – one that is simple, repeatable, and robust. VitalQC provides a framework to check existing installations, or to facilitate the transition to occupancy for new builds. Our agreement with Aerocom provides assurance to their customers in markets with a strong focus on quality control, such as Germany and Scandinavia. With VitalQC, all hospital stakeholders can trust that their PTS will deliver blood products and clinical samples safely to their destination and will fulfill accreditation requirements. With over 2000 installations in hospitals worldwide, Aerocom is an ideal partner to bring VitalQC to market,” said Dr Franziska Broell, CEO at Motryx.
The agreement is effective immediately and allows for pneumatic systems to be validated and verified with little to no blood, streamlining and simplifying the process for all hospital stakeholders, including the lab.
Established in 2018, Motryx has developed an end-to-end solution for quality control and assurance for blood sample transport. VitalQC was specifically designed as a system process diagnostic tool for blood sample transport systems such as pneumatic tube systems. Motryx is headquartered in Halifax, Canada. VitalQC has been used by hospitals, laboratories and leading research institutes worldwide to confirm safe transport before installing new transport systems, to alert of changes in system performance, and to optimize transport processes, all to increase efficiency, effectiveness, and the quality of patient results.
Aerocom is a global market leader in high-tech pneumatic transport systems and was founded in 1956.
Aerocom has focused exclusively on pneumatic tube systems in healthcare worldwide for almost 70 years. Their products are represented in more than 80 countries around the globe and are supported by their own branches and local partners. Aerocom offers the highest quality and best service.
For more information
Dr Franziska Broell
CEO, Motryx Inc