GlaxoSmithKline has registered a vote of confidence in Canada as a breeding ground for new medicines by launching a $50 million investment fund to support early-stage breakthrough research in the country.

Managed by GlaxoSmithKline in Canada and GSK’s global corporate venture capital arm, SR One, the GSK Canada Life Sciences Innovation Fund will look for strategic investment opportunities in the Canadian life sciences sector, including academic and health institutions, translational research centres and start-up companies.

Paul Lucas, president and chief executive officer of GlaxoSmithKline Inc, described the initiative as “an important step in addressing Canada’s innovation gap”.

The Innovation Fund is a fillip for the Canadian government, which in its recent Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research identified reduced capacity to translate basic biomedical research discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside as one of two ‘Death Valleys’ in the national healthcare landscape.

This was despite strong foundations including Canada’s biomedical research community, a multidisciplinary clinical workforce, a “highly qualified, internationally respected” clinical and health services research workforce, “world-leading” expertise in systematic reviews, and extensive experience in multi- and cross-disciplinary clinical research networks, the strategy document noted.  

Source of development

Announcing the GSK Canada Life Sciences Innovation Fund, Moncef Slaoui, global chairman of research and development at GlaxoSmithKline, said the fund “demonstrates GSK’s confidence in Canada to continue to be an important source of development for medicines of value for patients”.

According to the company, it is a top 15 investor in Canadian R&D, contributing more than $141 million in 2010 alone.


Last August, shortly before the government unveiled its Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research, Roche said it was setting up a “major global pharmaceutical development site” in Ontario, Canada, with an investment fund of $190 million and an additional $7.79 million from the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.