National Engineering Biology Steering Committee Releases White Paper

Posted on February 15, 2021

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Engineering Biology– A platform technology to fuel multi-sector economic recovery and modernize bio-manufacturing in Canada

At the 2020 Canadian Science Policy ConferenceOntario Genomics' President and CEO, Dr. Bettina Hamelin, announced the launch of an important and comprehensive White Paper: Engineering Biology– A platform technology to fuel multi-sector economic recovery and modernize bio-manufacturing in Canada.

Led by Ontario Genomics and written collaboratively by the National Engineering Biology Steering Committee, this paper discusses how engineering biology is a national opportunity to advance Canada's knowledge-based economy and create high-quality jobs and training opportunities. It will also ensure that Canadian biotechnology companies and manufacturers are competitive in the growing global market.

Engineering biology tools and technologies are disrupting global markets and creating incredible opportunities for the most innovative organizations. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, the "bio-revolution" promises to generate US$2-$4 trillion in global value between 2030-2040. Leading G20 jurisdictions, including the US, UK, Australia and China, as well as Singapore, are investing greatly in the development of engineering biology and are reaping benefits both economically and in the fight against COVID-19.

"Now is the time for Canada to leverage its tremendous advantage and capacity to collaborate across sectors, bringing together genomics and molecular biosciences with engineering, automation, and artificial intelligence," said Bettina Hamelin, President and CEO, Ontario Genomics. "Canada must act now to build upon our existing strengths to grow a state-of-the-art and robust engineering biology ecosystem. This way we can make sure that we export products to the world and decrease our reliance on imports."

Canada already has the fundamental elements necessary to create a world-leading engineering biology ecosystem – with renowned academics and innovative companies and development of biofoundry infrastructure for research, testing and scale-up. However, the organization of a coherent network is lacking, and the fragmented approach taken so far has hindered the realization of Canada's potential in this field. We need to build a cohesive network that encompasses the entire Canadian engineering biology community to facilitate company growth, innovation and the discovery-to-commercialization pipeline across sectors.

Photo: IGPC Ethanol Site, Aylmer, Ontario, Canada. (CNW Group/Ontario Genomics)