By: Karimah Es Sabar, President and CEO, CDRD
The Centre for Drug Research and Development (CDRD) and our commercialization vehicle, CDRD Ventures Inc. (CVI) were conceived approximately eight years ago as a shared vision between government, industry and academia to build a world-leading drug development and commercialization centre to address one of the biggest challenges facing the global life sciences sector today: how to translate and ultimately develop promising academic discoveries into new therapies for patients. Together, the group of leading entrepreneurial academic scientists leading the charge successfully established the CDRD/CVI enterprise and developed a firm mandate to de-risk discoveries stemming from publicly-funded health research and transforming them into viable investment opportunities for the private sector – thus successfully bridging the commercialization gap that existed between academia and industry.
Started as a provincially-focused endeavour, CDRD was then recognized by the Government of Canada as a Centre of Excellence in Commercialization and Research (CECR), and leveraged this and other public and private sector funding to create a state-of-the-art drug development and commercialization platform, and become national in scope with global reach. It is now one of only a handful of fully‐integrated translational research organizations in the world with the infrastructure and expertise to undertake all aspects of pre-clinical drug development and commercialization.
The CDRD/CVI enterprise aims to be a leader in its field, serve the needs of research institutions across the globe, and thus bring a new level of health sciences commercialization to Canada. Recognizing the global nature of the life sciences industry, CDRD/CVI is strongly committed to establishing and collaborating with a network of international partners representing the world’s top research institutions and global companies such as Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Johnson & Johnson.
As the world changes and resources become increasingly limited, a greater effort must be made on collaboration rather than competition, sharing resources, leveraging investment, and mitigating risk. To help realize this, CDRD led the founding of the “Global Alliance of Leading Drug Discovery and Development Centres”, an association of the top peer translational research organizations, to share infrastructure and best practices, and work collaboratively to support the conversion of early-stage technology into commercial investment opportunities. The Alliance is a powerful vehicle in bringing such organizations together, leveraging one another’s strengths, and ultimately making for a much more effective global translational research environment.
CDRD has also entered into selected international affiliations with Oxford University, UK; Griffith University (Eskitis Institute for Cell and Molecular Therapies), Australia; Todai TLO (representing Tokyo University), Japan; Karolinska Institutet, Sweden; and Lead Discovery Centre (representing the Max Planck Institutes), Germany. As CDRD continues to expand its network of world-leading affiliated institutions around the globe, organizations recognize the many common benefits of international alliances – including the sharing of knowledge and accelerating the development of much-needed medical therapeutics. By leveraging the international platform that it has established, and coupling it with the power of partnerships, building and nurturing relationships amongst colleagues around the world, CDRD/CVI has a very dynamic future to look forward to.
The rapidly-growing knowledge economy requires a forward looking and evolving institutional framework to support it. This is why CDRD’s vision is to change the culture of scientific innovation and commercialization impacting human health. It is only by doing things differently, being flexible, adaptable and at the forefront of translational research efforts, that we will be able to collectively and effectively capitalize on the opportunity in front of us. Canada’s federal and provincial governments understand this paradigm, and have taken decisive action to ensure that we play our rightful part on the global innovation stage. Governments are thereby working alongside industry and academic and research institutions to maximize innovation in Canada, and CDRD is critical to ensuring Canada is successful in building a globally-competitive life sciences industry.
CDRD/CVI is therefore proud to be joining the Canadian contingent at the upcoming BIO International Convention in San Diego, alongside biotechnology organizations from around the world. We hope to see you there, and look forward to working together to bring new therapies to the world.