Catalyzing capital for Canada's life sciences industry
Canada's biotech sector ranks within the top five globally, but its life sciences venture capital (VC) industry is among the worlds weakest. This makes for an interesting case study in understanding the disconnect between low levels of VC and a healthy innovation ecosystem in terms of R&D spending, skilled workforce and enterprise support. Three key provinces (Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia) that have taken significantly different approaches to attracting VC are large enough to attract as much government investment as whole emerging markets. The aim of this article is to present evidence from a Canadian natural economic experiment in order to evaluate the effectiveness of varying government policies in attracting VC investment, to illustrate how these policies need tailoring to individual sub-sectors of the life sciences sector, and to highlight potential policy mechanisms that may be applicable beyond Canada's borders. We employ VC returns on investment (ROI) and exit data as a proxy for our evaluation. Our results suggest that government biotechnology investment needs to be structured end-to-end from early to late stage in order to be successful, that prevalence of private and international VC flows is critical for generating market efficiency, and that there is an A€˜optimalA€™ efficient amount of capital before ROI result in diminishing returns.
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