Providing a home for biomedical innovation
March 05, 2010— Winnipeg, Manitoba
New high tech firms are driven by a combination of innovation and market, the prospect of bringing goods or services to customers ready to receive these products. But while these two elements are necessary for a successful venture, they may not be sufficient to guarantee its success. The deciding factor is often the quality of management, how well the leadership applies available resources to the problems faced by any fledgling firm.
In Winnipeg, entrepreneurs have direct access to an organization that can enhance those management skill as well as the available resources. Biomedical Commercialization Canada Inc. (BCC) offers just this kind of advantage, with the ultimate aim of ensuring that a higher proportion of these start-up firms become mature members of the local economy.
"You can spend years establishing connections in fields ranging from capital investment to regulatory requirements or you can take advantage of our expertise and network," says BCC Executive Director Marshall Ring. "We know the hurdles of technology commercialization; from working model to break-even analysis. We're familiar with the twists and turns the road to the market can take."
Located in the Partnership Facility of the National Research Council's Institute for Biodiagnostics, BCC was created in 2004 as a private not-for-profit operation. And though the term "biomedical" is featured in the name, the clientele includes enterprises dedicated to a diverse array of science and technology-based business opportunities.
BCC adds value to clients in three key areas: facilities and infrastructure; mentoring, coaching and participation; and finance and investment. This can mean providing firms with such basic items as Internet access or printing services, or populating out the management team with seasoned and successful experts to help build and implement business plans, budgets, and market access strategies.
At the same time, BCC receives its own support from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP), which provides advisory services as well as financial support to small and medium-sized firms that are accessing, developing and exploiting new technologies and knowledge in order to grow. NRC-IRAP staff has worked with BCC since its inception, helping to frame the organization's programming, as well as supplying some of the core funding.
Ring points out that while BCC and NRC-IRAP share an interest in seeing ambitious enterprises flourish, they do so in distinctly different ways.
"Both organizations add good value, but from a different perspective," he says. "At BCC, we become part of your firm and are involved with day-to-day issues of implementation and execution. NRC-IRAP adds value at a strategic level ensuring the company is pointed towards success. Their role as advisors really helps our clients stay focused on key issues. NRC-IRAP's network of experts is also invaluable as our clients are only one phone call away from a solution provider."
He adds that BCC tries to ensure that its clients have access to an NRC-IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor, part of a synergy that has yielded productive projects and relationships over the years.
BCC is also building such synergy elsewhere, including developing key relationships with members of Minnesota's LifeScience Alley, a non-profit trade association serving that state and its surrounding region. Such geographic links promise to enhance the fertile R&D ground that Ring sees in Manitoba, which is home to a great deal of first-class science that has yet to attract a comparable volume of investment capital.
"We're filling a gap in the commercialization landscape," he concludes.
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