With nearly 15 million people, Ontario is Canada’s most populated and arguably research-active province; it is by far the largest provincial economy as measured by total GDP. The government there is now funding COVID-19 research focusing on projects involving the prevention, detection, and treatment of SARS-CoV-2 in important areas ranging from vaccine development and diagnostics to drug trials. Recently announced by the Office of the Premier (Doug Ford), a $20 million fund provides needed funding for important studies. The provincial government has moved quickly to support innovative research targeting COVID-19 as forward-thinking regions connect the dots between COVID-19 targeted research and economic recovery.
On the record, Premier Ford recently declared, “Ontario is leading the nation in the battle to defeat this deadly virus. We have some of the most incredible researchers and innovators anywhere in the world right here in our province.” Ontario leads Canada in size (15m) and economy with a GDP nearly double that of the next province—Quebec. Out of Canada’s 37.6 million people, Ontario represents nearly 40% of the population. With 6 million people, Toronto metro represents about 40% of Ontario’s population. Toronto ranked 32nd in top science cities worldwide (Beijing was first followed by New York, Boston, and San Francisco) based on an index from journal Nature.
Funding 15 “High-Quality” & Promising Studies
The Office of the Premier reports that the office has committed to funding 15 studies based on a recent call for proposals for the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund—a $20 million fund created to engage the community on ways to fight COVID-19. They report that a portion of the funds will be used to cover costs associated with licensing and commercialization—e.g., patenting, etc.
Concentrated Clinical Research
Home to the Toronto metropolitan area, Ontario is full of research hospitals, universities, colleges, and research institutes leading groundbreaking COVID-19 research projects. Ontario’s premier reports that 22 clinical trials are being led by these institutions and have already secured necessary approvals by Health Canada to advance potential vaccines and therapeutics. Ontario also has the largest share of 25 clinical trials approved by Health Canada in the country.
As Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade commented, “research will not only play an important role in the fight against COVID-19, but it will also drive innovation and our economic recovery as we restart the province.” Minster Fedeli continued, “This $20 million investment in our research sector will mean more made-in-Ontario solutions as we continue to fight this virus and move into the next phase of our recovery.”
· The 15 winning proposals are the first to receive funding from the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund. Additional projects will be announced. There is more for funds demand than the province anticipated.
· The $20 million fund supports COVID-19 research by tapping into the provincial expertise of colleges and universities, research centers, and non-profit scientific partners. The funding comes out of Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.
· Over 5 million pieces of personal protective equipment have been donated via the Ontario Together portal.
· Over 54,000 users have visited the SPARK Ontario website—here they learn how to volunteer to support Ontario efforts to take on COVID-19.
· Ontario invests in CIFAR, an artificial intelligence (AI) research effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. The initial focus shall be on early intervention strategies and effective treatments as well as public health measures.
See the link for a list of all the funded studies and associated projects to date.
Call to Action: Interested in learning more? Connect with the Premier’s Office or contact TrialSite News for help.