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Canada Launches $87M Translational Push, Pledges $29M for Genomics Centers

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The Canadian government today unveiled a new C$90 million (US$87 million) effort to ramp up the translation of genomics technologies to commercialization, and it plans to provide a separate C$29 million to renew funding for its five main genome research centers, Genome Canada said today.

The government has allotted C$30 million to launch the new translational initiative, the Genomics Applications Partnership Program, while partners from industry and the public sector are expected to provide the remaining C$60 million.

“Our government recognizes that genomics science is at the core of the economic activity of life sciences research,” Minister of Science and Technology Gary Goodyear said in a statement.

"The [GAPP] program was designed based on extensive consultation both with the genomics research community and the community of users of genomics research to ensure it was meeting clearly defined needs,” added Pierre Meulien, president and CEO of Genome Canada. “We expect the GAPP to result in early-stage products, tools, and processes that will bring genomics research to application and market, thereby stimulating Canadian innovation."

The GAPP effort will be targeted toward funding downstream research and development, such as proof-of-concept and validation projects, that may have “significant commercial market value, or other measurable impact,” Genome Canada said.

In the new program, projects will be measured based on technical merit, their relevance to genomics technology users, and for their "potential for delivering major benefits to Canada," it added.

The government also is betting that this GAPP investment will not only spur the translation of specific genomics technologies, but also boost the profile of genomics in industry and prove its commercial value more broadly, which in turn could attract new funding streams from private and public sources. Another goal of the program will be to increase collaboration between the science community and those who may use genomics tools and products in the industry, government, and non-profit sectors.

The second investment the government announced today, the C$29 million for Canada's Science and Technology Innovation Centres, will enable Genome Canada to continue funding for the five omics-focused centers through 2015.

These facilities, spread across the country, include The Genomics Innovation Centre at the BC Cancer Agency Genome Sciences Centre; the McGill University and Genome Quebec Innovation Centre; The Centre for Applied Genomics at SickKids Hospital in Toronto; The Metabolomics Innovation Centre in Edmonton, Alberta and Victoria, British Columbia; and the University of Victoria-Genome BC Proteomics Centre.

Genome Canada also said it has received C$5 million to fund its contribution to two ongoing international programs, the Structural Genomics Consortium, which has a headquarters in Toronto, and the International Barcode of Life Consortium.

An additional C$4 million from Genome Canada's budget will be used to help support the GAPP initiative, the agency said.