Transforming Discovery into Opportunity

New Fund Established to Support the Advancement of Saskatchewan’s Most Commercially-Promising Health Technologies

Vancouver, British Columbia and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan – February 2, 2015: A consortium of Saskatchewan’s leading innovation organizations have come together with The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD), Canada’s national drug development and commercialization centre, to establish a new $2 million CDRD-Saskatchewan Innovation Fund. The fund will support and accelerate the commercialization of cutting-edge early-stage health technologies stemming from the province’s top research institutions.

The University of Saskatchewan’s College of Pharmacy and Nutrition, Innovation Saskatchewan, the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre, and Ag-West Bio Inc. have collectively committed $1 million to be further leveraged with an additional $1 million through CDRD. These resources will be dedicated to de-risking and developing innovative Saskatchewan-based research to help attract the additional investment required for commercialization. This partnership thereby creates a clear and well-supported pathway to translate these discoveries into new therapeutic products for patients while also maximizing the return on government’s investment in basic health research from both an economic and societal perspective.

President and CEO of CDRD, Karimah Es Sabar commented, “Basic research is the lifeblood of Canada’s health sciences sector, but we need unique new models to advance that research to a commercial stage – models where stakeholders come together to share risk and reward. Strong partnerships between the investigators conducting the breakthrough research, translational centres such as CDRD, industry, foundations and government will enable provinces such as Saskatchewan, as well as Canada as a whole, to be not only the generators of world-class health research that they are today, but leaders in translating that research into world-class innovation.”

“This a wonderful opportunity for the province of Saskatchewan to leverage its diverse research activities with support from CDRD to help bring its promising health technologies closer to the clinic,” states Professor Kishor Wasan, Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Nutrition who spearheaded and now leads the Saskatchewan partnership group.

Ag-West Bio President and CEO Wilf Keller added, “Ag-West Bio, Saskatchewan’s bioscience industry association, works with innovators and investors to help bring research to market, for the benefit of Saskatchewan, Canada, and beyond. Translating this innovative research to market, and eventually to societal beneficiaries requires equally innovative partnerships, from research through to commercialization. Therefore we are delighted to be a participant in this new partnership.”

“Saskatchewan is home to a world-class cluster of institutions, organizations and researchers who are helping to grow our knowledge-based economy,” Minister Responsible for Innovation Jeremy Harrison said. “The Government of Saskatchewan, through Innovation Saskatchewan, is very pleased to lend its support to this new fund. Our homegrown health technologies are groundbreaking and have far-reaching benefits for the people of this province and around the world, and we need to commercialize this expertise to make it marketable.”

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About The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD)
CDRD is Canada’s fully-integrated national drug development and commercialization centre, providing expertise and infrastructure to enable researchers from leading health research institutions to advance promising early-stage drug candidates. Its mandate is to de-risk discoveries stemming from publicly-funded health research and transform them into viable investment opportunities for the private sector — thus successfully bridging the commercialization gap between academia and industry, and translating research discoveries into new therapies for patients. Canada’s Networks of Centres of Excellence Program has recognized CDRD as a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR).

About the University of Saskatchewan, College of Pharmacy and Nutrition
The College of Pharmacy and Nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan has a proud tradition, and is the home of research and practice innovation for over 100 years. The college is dedicated to fostering knowledge creation through excellence in teaching and research that will improve the health of individuals and communities within Saskatchewan and beyond.

About Innovation Saskatchewan (IS)
Innovation Saskatchewan (IS) is the Government of Saskatchewan’s central agency supporting the innovation agenda in the province. Working with industry and stakeholder groups, IS encourages commercialization of technology and increased productivity for the province’s economic benefit. IS also coordinates with government ministries and Crown corporations so that policy and priorities are aligned with the Government of Saskatchewan’s innovation agenda. 

About Ag-West Bio
Ag-West Bio is a membership-based organization located at Innovation Place in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The company works as a catalyst for developing partnerships and industry growth in the bio-economy through investments, aiding strategic alliances, and providing business planning support, regulatory advice and communications. Funding for Ag-West Bio is provided by Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture and Growing Forward, and Western Economic Diversification Canada.

About VIDO-InterVac (Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization – International Vaccine Centre)
Created in 1975, VIDO‐InterVac is a research organization of the University of Saskatchewan with financial support from the Government of Canada, Government of Saskatchewan, various foundations, corporations and producer groups. With some of the world’s most advanced containment Level two and three facilities, as well as a 160‐acre research station, VIDO‐InterVac develops new approaches to infectious disease threats. VIDO-InterVac has developed eight commercial vaccines employs over 150 scientists/technicians and works with public and private sector partners in more than 20 countries.


Barry Gee
Director, Communications
The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD)
Direct: (604) 827-1223
Mobile: (604) 619-4805

Kieran Kobitz
Communications & Alumni Relations Specialist
College of Pharmacy & Nutrition, University of Saskatchewan
Direct: (306) 966-2502

Deb Young
Media Relations Manager
Ministry of the Economy
Direct: (306) 787-6315

Brad Bly
Director of Commercialization
Ag-West Bio Inc.
Direct: (306) 668-2665

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