When we look back on technological breakthroughs at the hands of genomics and engineering biology, we cannot help but be amazed. What would have once been considered impossible, is today, not just possible but absolutely necessary, in demand, and profitable. The theme of our 2021-22 annual report, It’s Not Magic, It’s Genomics, captures the essence of what is truly possible in this revolutionary, cutting-edge space. Although sometimes it may seem like magic, genomics offers scientifically sound and proven solutions to some of humanity’s biggest challenges: climate change, food insecurity, and acute and chronic disease.
With these challenges at the heart of what drives our organization, Ontario Genomics launched our 2021-26 Strategic Vision: Living Sustainably. Innovating Together. It builds on the progress we made over the previous five years to focus our attention on driving commercialization and implementation of genomics technologies, embracing and leading the growth of the engineering biology ecosystem provincially and nationally, and working to alleviate key barriers like access to seed capital, infrastructure and critical talent. We are diversifying our strategic partnership portfolio by working with new provincial, federal and industry partners to increase our capacity to support our community. Our goal is to ensure that Ontario maintains its world-class status on the global stage by nurturing our competitive, economy-focused research and innovation ecosystem across health, food, and the environment.
This year, our advancements in agriculture and food have been a particular source of pride for Ontario Genomics. Expanding on our 2020 white paper: Engineering Biology – A platform technology to fuel multi-sector economic recovery and modernize biomanufacturing in Canada, we examined Canada’s opportunity in food innovation and food export. In 2021 we released a first-of-its-kind Canadian report that examines the growing global demand for diversified food production while complementing traditional agricultural approaches, thereby creating an up to $12.5B per year new economic opportunity for Canada.
Shortly thereafter, a timely partnership with the Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) allowed us to launch Canada’s first cellular agriculture-focused funding competition, the AcCELLerate-ON program. With $900K in combined funding, we supported four cutting-edge cellular agriculture-focused food and beverage projects to take Ontario on its path towards global leadership in this new and sustainable way to produce food.
With cellular agriculture products already on the grocery shelves in several countries, there is strong evidence of growing consumer demand and huge industry momentum. Canada is well-positioned, with all the right ingredients, to act on this window of opportunity to step up and enhance resilient food supply chains at home and abroad.
Of course, the magic doesn’t stop at cellular agriculture. Education is key to the adoption of genomics technologies, and part of the equation to make science more understandable and less “magical”. Indeed, Ontario Genomics’ multi-sector vision of healthy people, a healthy economy, and a healthy planet through genomics innovations depends on Ontario’s greatest strength to make it all happen: our talent. This year’s annual report features a special overview of our work to prepare the greater public and our future workforce for the transdisciplinary and entrepreneurial jobs of today and tomorrow. I am particularly proud of our achievements highlighted in the report:
And we are only just getting started. With the power of genomics, we can take the seemingly magical and make it the foundation of Ontario’s economic strength and prosperity for generations to come.
The theme of our 2021-22 annual report, It’s Not Magic, It’s Genomics, captures the essence of what is truly possible in this revolutionary, cutting-edge space. Although sometimes it may seem like magic, genomics offers scientifically sound and proven solutions to some of humanity’s biggest challenges: climate change, food insecurity, and acute and chronic disease.