Canada has a long history of being at the forefront of innovations, whether it be in food and agriculture, communication, transportation, sports and entertainment, defence, or science and medicine.

In fact, Canadian accomplishments in science and academic research have been a particular source of national pride for many years. We would even venture that the great gains we’ve made in improving the lives of patients in Canada and around the world would not have been possible without the innovations made possible by our life sciences sector.

As Andrew Casey, President and CEO of BIOTECanada explains, “The potential of biotechnology to deliver game-changing and life-changing innovation to the challenges faced by society is significant. Importantly, Canada is home to a healthy and vibrant, pan-Canadian biotechnology ecosystem with clusters located in every province. In this context, the Canadian biotech ecosystem is an economic strength that positions Canada well to successfully deliver innovation to a world looking for solutions.”

Innovation that leads to advances in life sciences requires a collaborative ecosystem of partners — hospitals, research centres, universities, technology incubators, startups, scientists, and multinational companies like ours.

As an organization, Roche is known for our unwavering commitment to scientific excellence and for redefining the standard of care for diseases like cancer. For us, productivity isn’t measured on a balance sheet.  It’s measured by the lives we touch in our pursuit of science that helps us deliver new medicines and diagnostics to patients who need them most. That’s why we look to partner with like-minded individuals and companies who work with us to fully realize the potential of great science and the meaningful impact it can have on the lives of people in Canada, as well as around the world.  

Take for example our work in antimicrobial resistance (AMR). AMR is a serious and significant public health concern,which is spreading rapidly across the world and is projected to result in more than 10 million deaths annually by the year 2050. This global challenge is driven by the widespread overuse of medicines like antibiotics, which has enabled infectious organisms to adapt to antimicrobial agents, or even classes of drugs. Our partnership with Edmonton, Alberta-based Fedora Pharmaceuticals and Meiji Seika Pharma Co., Ltd. in Japan, looks to address this challenge by developing and commercializing a new antibiotic to combat antimicrobial resistance.

Biotech companies like Fedora need a partner with a proven track record of developing investigational medicines, manufacturing them, and making them available to the people who need it. We have a strong legacy in antibiotics and this collaboration demonstrates our continued commitment to providing a much-needed option for patients suffering from difficult-to-treat infections.

The story behind many of Roche’s most successful medicines began with a successful partnership. More than 35% of our pharmaceutical sales come from partnered therapeutics and nearly half of the new medicines in our pipeline stem from external collaborations.

While some of our agreements focus on late-stage development, we know that partnering with other research-driven institutions at every stage is critical to advancing science today and well into the future.

This belief has been the driving force behind our collaboration with some of the world’s leading scientific and clinical experts as part of the cancer immunotherapy Centers of Research Excellence (imCORE) network. imCORE unites experts from across the globe committed to advancing cancer immunotherapy research for better patient outcomes. Leveraging Canada’s excellence in cancer research, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre (PMCC) based in Toronto, Ontario, is one of 21 institutions that comprise the imCORE network.

As a collective, these institutions aim to rapidly initiate pre-clinical and clinical research based on the latest scientific discoveries and to aggregate, as well as share data to accelerate the search for cures for people with cancer. The collaboration, one of the largest of its kind, is focusing on identifying approaches to expand the number of people who benefit from cancer immunotherapy by exploring new ways to activate a person’s immune system to fight cancer.

Partnering is not just about developing medicines and diagnostics — it’s about being a partner in the healthcare system more broadly and maximizing the impact innovations in medical science can have on patients. Because of the power it has to transform patient care, the conversation around Big Data has taken centre stage over the last several years. Data is our single most powerful weapon to fight diseases like cancer. Yet we’re not capitalizing on the data we currently have available through clinical trials, electronic medical records, genomic research, and many other sources because we don’t have the infrastructure in place to integrate and analyze this information and make predictions to improve patient outcomes.

This is the vision behind a new public-private partnership we’re spearheading with the University of Waterloo, University Health Network, Canadian Genomics Enterprise (CGEn) and Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG). Through this initiative we hope to standardize and integrate existing, as well as new real-world data sets that can be used by physicians to assess the best treatment options for patients in their clinic, support the development of new treatment innovations, and enable payers to adopt a “pay-for-performance” reimbursement model to improve healthcare sustainability. We’re also establishing funding partnerships with Canadian startup tech companies with a unified vision of leveraging innovations in digital health to drive economic growth.

While we know it is an ambitious goal, we believe we can achieve this transformation by combining the expertise of Canadian institutions and companies of all sizes with the expertise and best practices from Roche’s global network of companies including Foundation Medicine and Flatiron Health.

At Roche, partnerships are a core part of who we are. We know we have a role to play in the broader healthcare system and that we have an opportunity to create value for partners across the Canadian life science ecosystem, whether they are governments, academic and/or research-based institutions, or local pharma/biotechnology companies. We strive to work with the top scientists and partners in Canada and around the world, in a broad set of therapeutic areas, with the best tools and technologies, all with a singular goal: to help patients.

June 3, 2018

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