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Government of Canada invests in research commercialization

$29 million investment in two commercialization centres will accelerate Canadians’ access to innovative cancer immunotherapies and natural products

From left to right: Shelley King, Bettina Hamelin, Dr. Lambert Busque, Hon. H. Wade MacLauchlan, Hon. Navdeep Bains, Hon. Lawrence MacAulay, Sean Casey, Rory Francis

February 12, 2016 – Charlottetown, PEI — Networks of Centres of Excellence

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, joined by the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, and the Honourable Wade MacLauchlan, Premier of Prince Edward Island, announced two significant investments in research commercialization centres.

In Charlottetown, the Natural Products Canada (NPC) will receive $14 million over five years, in support of its work to establish Canada as a global leader in the development and marketing of natural products.

In Montréal, the Centre for Commercialization of Cancer Immunotherapy (C3i) will receive funding of $15 million over five years to develop, translate and commercialize cancer immunotherapy.

These two recipients are the two successful applicants from the most recent competition in the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR) program. The CECRs match clusters of research expertise with the business community, facilitating the development of products and technologies at a stage in the commercialization process where it is otherwise difficult to attract private-sector investment.


“Today’s CECR recipients reflect the impressive depth and quality of research conducted here in Canada in two vital areas: innovative cancer therapies and ground-breaking natural alternatives to products already on the market. The Government of Canada is proud to support this important stage on the research spectrum: getting products out of the lab and into the market, so that they can begin to improve the lives of Canadians.”
The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development

“The CECR program helps to fill that important gap between conducting research, and being able to develop a commercially viable product. Today’s announcement is yet another example of the great scientific research that is being done across the country, and the tremendous efforts that these researchers are making to dream beyond their research, and to how they can improve our quality of life. Congratulations to both successful organizations.”
The Honourable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Science

“Our research ecosystem needs to be balanced in a way that supports the constant interchange between discovery and innovation. Commercialization centres satisfy a very specific need, by providing a solid connection between the ideas generated by foundational research and the expertise that can take the most promising ideas towards commercialization.”
B. Mario Pinto, President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, and Chair, Networks of Centres of Excellence Steering Committee

“By harnessing the power of the immune system, we have the potential to revolutionize cancer treatment. These are game-changing therapies, and with this support C3i can work to ensure a brighter future for cancer patients. At the same time, Canada has the expertise in this area to become a world leader and take advantage of the tremendous business opportunity presented by immunotherapy. C3i will act as a catalyst to support this development.”
–  Lambert Busque, Chief Medical Officer, C3i

“This funding will enable us to link Canada’s natural products assets, strengthen the sector’s position within the global market and realize positive outcomes for Canadians. Together with our founding partners, we can connect existing research, infrastructure and expertise from regions across Canada, and we are pleased to lead the first national CECR hosted in the Maritimes."
–  Shelley R. King, Chief Executive Officer of Natural Products Canada

Quick facts

  • The NPC, headquartered in Charlottetown, will capitalize on ongoing research that has demonstrated a wealth of applications for natural products in promoting good human and animal health. They will also work to develop green alternatives to agricultural products and industrial chemicals. The centre will evaluate, scientifically validate and invest in products and technologies.
  • C3i, which is based in Montréal, will accelerate access to innovative cancer immunotherapies for patients. Operating out of the Hôpital Maisonneuve-Rosemont’s Research Centre, C3i will be a one-stop shop for the development, translation and commercialization of ground-breaking cancer treatments.
  • The CECR program currently funds 23 centres, working in areas that include information and communications technologies, health, natural resources and energy. Created in 2007, the program invests $30 million per year in Canadian innovation.

Associated links

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Media Relations
Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

Martin Leroux
Media and Public Affairs Officer
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council

The Networks of Centres of Excellence, which manages the CECR program, operates a suite of national funding programs on behalf of the three federal granting agencies—the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). NCE programs support large scale, multi-disciplinary collaborations between universities, industry, government and not-for-profit organizations, which focus Canada’s research capacity on economic and social challenges, help commercialize and apply research breakthroughs, increase private-sector R&D, and train highly qualified people.