BIOTECanada's Andrew Casey on the Future of Canadian Biotech

- December 13th, 2016

In an interview with Life Science Investing News, BIOTECanada’s Andrew Casey offers his take on the sector going into 2017.

Stars, stripes and biotech: these things just seem to go together. But America isn’t the only hub of biotechnology. The true North strong and free is fast becoming a region to watch in this space—just ask Andrew Casey, president and chief exec of BIOTECanada. We did.
BIOTECanada is an industry association with some 200 member companies—both public and private. The roster includes big names, like Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG) and Merck (NYSE:MRK).
BIOTECanada’s goal? To forward the Canadian biotech industry by attracting investment capital and advocating for favorable regulatory policies.
As such, Casey has his finger on the pulse of the Canadian biotech industry. Who better to ask about the state of this sector going forward?

Is the biotech market the perfect mesh between the technology and pharmaceutical market?

 
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Life Science Investing News: In 2016, what was the most challenging aspect of the biotech market?
Casey: Access to investment capital is always the greatest challenge for early stage biotech companies. Investors are global tourists looking for properties that provide the best return on the dollar invested.
Nations with biotech sectors are increasingly aware of the importance of the sector to their overall economic competitiveness. Accordingly, many are developing biotech sector specific blueprints and strategies to attract investors and drive the growth of their domestic biotech industries.
Life Science Investing News: What was the most challenging aspect of the Canadian biotech market specifically?
Casey: Remaining competitive with these other jurisdictions is an increasingly important challenge for this country. If Canada is not competitive, then the global investment tourist will go to those jurisdictions where it is welcomed. Ultimately, if the investment dollars do not come to Canada then the innovations must move to where the investment dollars are.
When this happens, Canada misses out on the economic benefits associated with commercialization.
Life Science Investing News: What do you expect in 2017 for the Canadian biotech market?
Casey: Several Canadian companies took great leaps forward in 2016—Aquinox (NASDAQ:AQXP), Zymeworks, Cynapsus (NASDAQ:CYNA), Innovative Targeting Solutions. It will be very interesting to watch these companies develop further and see other early stage Canadian biotechs also start to grow.
It will also be very interesting to watch the impact this success and the emergence of new investors will have on the Canadian biotech ecosystem going forward.
The federal government’s Innovation Agenda should take shape in 2017 and this will hopefully identify some opportunities for government policy and initiatives to support the sector’s global competitiveness.
Life Science Investing News: What do you tell investors who are concerned about the state of the biotech market?
Casey: Due to the very specific nature of the investments focused on science-based innovation with long-term horizons, biotech investors are extremely sophisticated and experienced in the space. BIOTECanada works to support members and facilitate connections, but the investors are very aware of market conditions and the associated risks and opportunities in the sector.
That several health sciences funds are being established in Canada is a good indication the investors see Canada as a rich and not entirely over-subscribed mine of biotech innovation.

It may not surpass the San Francisco Bay area any time soon, but Canada’s biotech sector is showing signs of growth—even after a tumultuous 2016. From a distance, biotechnology may look star-spangled, but other regions are catching up, developing innovative products that could one day give American biotechs a run for their money.
Don’t forget to follow us @INN_LifeScience for real-time news updates.
Securities Disclosure: I, Chelsea Pratt, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: Interviews conducted by the Investing News Network are edited for clarity. The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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