Province gives $4m to Mac for Biotech project

Hamilton Spectator; By Steven Buist

The Ontario government has announced it will inject $4 million into a high-tech biomedical engineering research centre being proposed for Hamilton.

The new venture will be a partnership between McMaster University and Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology.

The new centre would be located in McMaster Innovation Park and have a goal of developing and producing specialized therapies to treat cancers and immune-based diseases.

The province’s cash contribution was announced on Monday afternoon at McMaster by Dr. Eric Hoskins, Ontario’s Minister of Economic Development, Trade and Employment.

“It’s no secret that McMaster is known for its cutting-edge life sciences research, and I know that firsthand,” said Hoskins, who obtained both his science and medical degrees from the university.

“When McMaster reaches out globally like this, they’re making economic connections that benefit us all.”   Read the full story at the spec.

 

14th Art in the Workplace Round Up!

Art in the Workplace Round up!

Thank you to the entire Hamilton Community for coming out to the 14th Art in the Workplace (AWP) exhibit just one week ago today. The Atrium was filled with over 500 people, the largest turn out for any AWP exhibit.

 

The exhibit featured over 130 great pieces from nearly 100 local artists, which were all on sale (unless noted otherwise). Artist April Mansilla was even able to sell her art during the opening!

Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the art, and hear about the motivation for the pieces directly from the artists. This exhibit also featured 62 pieces of art in the Mohawk College Art Collection, curated by Dr. Alison McQueen, assisted by her Art Collection Seminar Students. This exhibit collaborated even further with the Hamilton Community with feature art prepared by the Westdale Secondary School Photography Class and Cardinal Newman Art Classes. Lastly, in honour of World Water Day 10 pieces of Art will be displayed showcasing talent from the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health international World Water Day photo competition.

Entertainment for the evening included local musical talent Sam Keddy (Female singer/songwriter of folk/adult contemporary music) playing the keyboard, accompanied by Matt Sousa on acoustic guitar. Anywhere you went in the Atrium, attendees couldn’t get over how great Sam sounded! She even covered favourites like Royals, by Lorde.

Buttons, which were on sale at the exhibit, were inspired by pieces from the Feature Artist, Sylvia Simpson.  These button images are based on the rock patterns that Sylvia saw while painting in the La Cloche Mountains – an area north of Manitoulin Island and south of Espanola.  These mountains are some of the oldest mountains in the world.  The feature button is a depiction of the rock pattern on an island near White Fish Falls, ON. All proceeds from sales of the buttons were returned to AWP.  For more information on Sylvia and her work, visit her Facebook page “Sylvia Simpson’s Creative-Works”.

From the food to the art, to the music, and the people, the night was one not to be missed! Thanks to 28 Lister for the wonderful spread.

   

All pieces will be on display until late June and can be enjoyed throughout the Spring. See you at the next exhibit!

Featured Video from Ignite News at Mohawk College:

Creative technology firms betting on Hamilton

By Meredith MacLeod from The Hamilton Spectator

Dale Mugford is placing a big bet on Hamilton and he says there is no other city worth the risk.

Mugford and his B.C.-based partner Duane Storey have left their home offices to move their company, Brave New Code, into its first office.

The company is one of the great success stories of the city’s digital media sector, a cluster growing in profile and size in the city.

“It’s an online world, but we’re hoping to plant a flag in the sand here in Hamilton,” said Mugford, who moved here from Mississauga in 2006. He was immediately captivated by the dusty raw space in the newly remodeled Empire Times building on King William Street.

The 2,100-square-foot space was originally slated to be three units.

“I said, ‘What if we took the whole thing?’ I had this vision of a space that doesn’t exist right now in Hamilton. You see them in Toronto or New York or Vancouver, but it’s not yet in Hamilton.”

Mugford and Storey have sunk about $20,000 in leasehold improvements into their new office, including the construction of a glassed-in boardroom.

The space is more than the five people working at Brave New Code need at the moment, but there are a couple of shared work space tenants lined up and Mugford is looking for two more.

Its plug-in, WPTouch, which provides an easy way to convert websites into content for tablets and phones has been downloaded a staggering six million times since 2008.

The number is impressive, but perhaps more so is the fact that the first iPhone was released only a year before and the iPad arrived in 2010.

“We were ahead of the curve for the mobile explosion. We just knew the iPhone was the future and we were excited by the technology.”

It’s hard to fully quantify how big the digital media sector – populated by web and mobile developers, gaming companies, animators, graphic designers, and a range of video, photo and sound artists using technology – has grown in the city.

See here for the full story.

Art in the Workplace returns – Connecting art and innovation

The 14th Art in the Workplace Opening Exhibit – Connecting Art and Innovation

On Tuesday, April 1st, 2014, McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) will be hosting the opening reception for the Art in the Workplace’s Spring 2014 collection, the 14th exhibit in the series.  The reception will take place from 7pm to 9pm inside the Atrium at MIP with cocktails and light snacks being served to attendees. The 14th exhibit promises more art and new surprises for both new and returning visitors.

The exhibit will feature over 130 great pieces from nearly 100 local artists, which will all be on sale unless noted otherwise. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about the art, and hear about the motivation for the pieces directly from the artist. This exhibit will also feature 62 pieces of art in the Mohawk College Art Collection, curated by Dr. Alison McQueen, assisted by her Art Collection Seminar Students. This exhibit collaborated even further with the Hamilton Community with feature art prepared by the Westdale Secondary School Photography Class and Cardinal Newman Art Classes. Lastly, in honour of World Water Day 10 pieces of Art will be displayed showcasing talent from the United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health international World Water Day photo competition. All pieces will be on display until late June and can be enjoyed throughout the Spring.

Entertainment for the evening will include local musical talent Sam Keddy (Female singer/songwriter of folk/adult contemporary music) playing the keyboard, accompanied by Matt Sousa on acoustic guitar.

McMaster Innovation Park would like to thank all artists and volunteers who have made this event possible as well as a special thank you to our sponsors: PACART, teckelworks, Greening Marketing, Framing + Art , The Estate of Dr. Mary E. Keyes, Klotz Antique and Restoration,  Gallery 4 HPL, WAHC, P&A Plastics Inc., and Tea&More.

Art in the Workplace was launched during the official grand opening of the Atrium building in October 2009 gathering local artists to display their creative talents in the corridors of the new facility. Since then AWP has continued as a grass roots initiative serving the purpose of highlighting the artistic talent of the Hamilton community and to inspire creativity in the entrepreneurs and innovators who come into MIP every day. The reception promises to bring together the artists, educators and business leaders who are contributing to the City of Hamilton’s rebirth as a hotbed for creativity and innovation. The reception event is free and all are welcome.

For all media inquiries please contact Basmah Ahmed: marketing@mcmasterinnovationpark.ca, 905-667-5699

Here’s what you missed on twitter:

More than $3M in Early Researcher Awards, research infrastructure fundings

From McMaster Daily News

Eleven recently-appointed faculty will get up to $100,000 to help build their research programs thanks to the Early Researcher Awards announced Friday.

The ERA program recognizes promising researchers and their potential to become world-class innovators.

The work of McMaster’s ERAs will impact public health, the environment and the economy.

“We are proud to invest in ground-breaking, world-class research right here in Hamilton,” said Ted McMeekin, Ontario’s Minister of Community and Social Services and who made the announcement Friday. “Our researchers are pivotal to building a dynamic and innovative business climate in Ontario, one that will draw investment and opportunity and build Ontario’s economic strength and competitive edge.”

Dozens of undergraduates, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants, associates and technicians will have the opportunity to join the research teams of the eleven Early Researcher Award winners.

The ERA awardees represent five of McMaster’s six Faculties and will each be funded to a maximum of $140,000 by the provincial government, with matching funding of $50,000 from the University over the next five years.

Minister McMeekin also announced the recipients of the Ontario Research Fund – Research Infrastructure (ORF-RI) program, which provides research institutions with funding to help support infrastructure needs such as modern facilities and equipment. McMaster received $1,653,501 in funding for eight research projects.

“These talented researchers are blazing new trails in their fields. Whether its health, environmental or rehabilitation sciences, green technologies, or more efficient delivery of our health care services, they are creating new ways of thinking and new innovations in their areas of research,” says Mo Elbestawi, vice-president, research & international affairs. “This funding will give them the opportunity to expand their research teams, upgrade and augment their labs, and provide an enriched research-training environment for the next wave of young researchers.”

McMaster’s latest round of Early Researcher Awards and their research proposals are:

  • Thomas Adams, assistant professor, chemical engineering, whose work on sustainable energy conversion may be pivotal to positioning Ontario as a lead global exporter of nuclear energy products.
  • Dawn Bowdish, assistant professor, pathology & molecular medicine, whose research investigates the causes of bacterial pneumonia in the elderly
  • Dr. Benicio Frey, associate professor, psychiatry & behavioural neurosciences, whose work is focused on developing more accurate treatment for the 10 – 15 per cent of Canadians who suffer from depression
  • Kristin Hope, assistant professor, biochemistry and biomedical sciences, who is leading ground breaking research on improvements in blood stem cell transplants
  • Victor Kuperman, assistant professor, linguistics and languages, who is exploring the cognitive causes of inadequate reading comprehension and ways to incorporate this research into adult literacy programs
  • Nathan Magarvey, assistant professor, biochemistry & biomedical sciences, and Canada Research Chair in Natural Product Drug Discovery, who is leading the delivery of safer, more effective and targeted natural drug discoveries
  • Gillian Mulvale, assistant professor, health policy and management, whose work will help families and service providers deliver coordinated services for adolescents with mental illness.
  • Daria O’Reilly, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics, who is exploring ways to spend resources more efficiently in the treatment of diabetes
  • Guillaume Paré, assistant professor, pathology and molecular medicine, and Canada Research Chair in Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology, whose work will help physicians identify diabetics who are at high risk of developing heart or kidney complications
  • Graham Scott, assistant professor, biology who is studying the respiratory systems of animals who are able to thrive in conditions of oxygen deprivation, and the environmental and clinical implications
  • Ada Tang, assistant professor, rehabilitation sciences, who is exploring ways in which to improve cardiovascular care and reduce healthcare costs in the province

The eight ORF-RI recipients, their research award and projects are:

• Biochemist Eric Brown, who has been awarded $290,000 in infrastructure to support his Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Microbial Chemical Biology. Multidrug resistant bacteria continue to be a health care burden in both hospital and community settings. Recognizing the need for new therapies, Brown’s proposed research program will uncover weaknesses in the survival strategies of bacteria for the design of truly novel antibacterial drugs.

• Biologist Marie Elliot, Canada Research Chair in Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Genomics,who has received $60,000 for the Control of Chromosome Dynamics and Genome Integrity. Cancer and infectious disease are two leading causes of premature death in Ontario. Elliot’s research team will explore how antibiotic production is influenced by regulatory factors, and examine how protein interactions and modifications stabilize our genetic material. The findings will allow them to identify new cancer therapeutic targets and develop new antibiotics.

• Elkafi Hassini, associate professor of operations management and co-investigator Sourav Ray, associate professor, marketing, who have been awarded $173,561 for Infrastructure for Advanced Business Analytics: Creating and Analysing Big Data for Canadian Distribution Channel. A framework for using pan-supply chain big data analyses will be created to reduce distribution channel conflict among small and medium enterprises, thereby enhancing competitiveness through innovation in marketing and operations processes.

• Engineering physicist Rafael Kleiman, who has received $399,940 for his research program Time and Frequency Domain Hyperspectral Imaging for Photovoltaic Applications. Solar cell technology, deployed on a large scale, has the potential to substantially contribute to Ontario’s energy mix. This project will develop new techniques to directly image the defects and imperfections in solar cells that limit their efficiency, providing new tools to improve solar cell manufacturing processes.

• Civil engineering assistant professor Dimitrios Konstantinidis, who will generate critically needed knowledge on the earthquake behaviour of nonstructural components. This knowledge will facilitate the development of innovative technologies to protect nonstructural components from earthquake damage. Konstaninidis’ research program garnered $100,000 in funding for a Multi-Axis Dynamic Simulator for Testing Operational and Functional Components and Advanced Seismic Isolation Devices.

• Biologist Grant McClelland will be investigating the effects of multiple environmental and pollution-based stressors, such as temperature, salinity, pH, and chemical contaminants, upon aquatic animal development, behaviour and physiology. McClelland’s $270,000 award will provide infrastructure for A Facility for Multi-stressor Biology on Aquatic Organisms.

• Gregory Steinberg, Canada Research Chair in Metabolism, Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes and associate professor, endocrinology has been awarded $60,000 for Infrastructure to Support Obesity and Metabolism Research. His project will test the effects of exercise, nutrition and genetics on adiposity in mice. Steinberg will also investigate the mechanisms mediating these effects by examining modifications that occur on proteins.

• Ray Truant will be using his $300,000 funding for a High Content Analysis Nanoscope to Study Neurodegeneration and Discover New Compounds for Neurodegenerative Disease. Truant – an associate professor in the department of biochemistry – leads a research program whose goal is to discover new chemical family leads as potential new therapies for Huntington’s disease. By working at the single cell level at nanometer resolution, Truant can focus his efforts on determining the molecular trigger of this devastating disease.

- See more at: http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/more-than-3m-for-early-researcher-awards-research-infrastructure-funding/#sthash.gCMcpvUC.dpuf

Canada Research Chair program names three McMaster Recipients

Three McMaster researchers, Jonathan Bramson, Eric Brown and Megumi Harada, were named Canada Research Chairs during a Friday announcement.

Bramson and Brown were both selected as Tier 1 Canada Research Chairs, and will receive $1.4 million over seven years to help further their research efforts. Harada, a Tier 2 recipient, will receive $500,000 over five years.

Mo Elbestawi, vice-president, Research & International Affairs, says the Canada Research Chair program allows McMaster to retain researchers of the highest calibre who contribute significantly to the University’s research enterprise.

“Professors Bramson, Brown and Harada are among the best in their fields, and we’re fortunate that they’re pursuing their pioneering research programs here, in areas that are of critical and strategic importance to the University,” said Elbestawi.

Bramson, a professor in the Department of Pathology & Molecular Medicine, was named a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Translational Cancer Immunology. His ongoing research efforts with the Bramson Group focus largely on developing methods to direct cancer patients’ immune systems to attack their tumours.

“Our research seeks to augment the immunity of cancer patients by enabling their white blood cells to attack their cancer. Due to repeated courses of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, the patients’ white blood cells lose the ability to kill the cancer cells,” explained Bramson.

“The Bramson lab has created methods to rehabilitate white blood cells in a petri dish and train the cells to destroy tumours. Our goal is to infuse the rehabilitated immune cells into cancer patients where, if successful, the white blood cells will kill their cancer cells. Unlike traditional therapies, the rehabilitated white blood cells will also seek out and destroy small deposits of cancer, preventing recurrence.”

Brown, a professor in the Department Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences, was named a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in Microbial Chemical Biology. Recognizing the need for new therapies to treat the emergence of so-called “superbugs,” the Brown Lab at McMaster is striving to develop the next generation of cutting-edge antibacterial drugs.

“Multidrug resistant bacteria continue to be a health-care burden in both hospital and community settings. Remarkably, in the past fifty years, only a few new chemical classes of antibiotics have reached the clinic,” said Brown.

“Existing antibiotics are directed at a small number of targets, principally cell wall, DNA and protein biosynthesis. Indeed, multidrug resistance among bacterial pathogens is thought to be due in large part to a limited repertoire of antibacterial chemical matter.”

Megumi Harada, an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics & Statistics, was named a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Equivariant Symplectic and Algebraic Geometry. Her primary research interest involves symplectic geometry, also known as the mathematical framework for classical physics.

At McMaster, Harada explores the complex relationships of equivariant symplectic geometry with other areas of mathematics, including equivariant algebraic geometry, hyperkahler geometry and geometric representation theory.

She is currently on sabbatical leave in Japan.

Each year, the federal CRC program invests roughly $265 million to attract and retain some of the world’s most promising academic minds.

- See more at: http://dailynews.mcmaster.ca/article/canada-research-chair-program-names-three-mcmaster-recipients/#sthash.w3UfNjC7.dpuf

Hamilton featured on the MaRS Discovery Blog: Canada’s Human Capital

Check out this blog post created by MaRS, written by Jerry Koh! MIP is so excited to have Hamilton and its innovation community continue to get noticed. See what a proposed Hamilton CityLab might bring to our very own #HamONT.

When you think of Hamilton, Ontario, what comes to mind? The Hammer? Steel Town? Smokestacks?

When we visited Hamilton in February, we saw a beautiful city nestled between the soaring Niagara Escarpment to the south and Lake Ontario to the north, surging life science and health academia and businesses, and a downtown core poised for growth and change. The most striking thing of all was the conviction and passion of our hosts about Hamilton and the potential of its people.

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce believes it might be time to unleash this potential by adding a citizen-led social innovation lab to the city’s arsenal. Let that sink in for a moment. At MaRS Solutions Laband Social Innovation Generation, we regularly receive requests from governments and community organizations for advice on setting up social innovation labs, but this is the first time we’ve had such a request from business owners.

Business turns to labs

In 2012-2013, Geraldine Cahill and her colleagues undertook field research about Hamilton’s social and economic challenges as part of the Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation. When the results of the study were presented, the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce was sufficiently convinced of the value of a social innovation lab that it wanted to explore the idea further with a broader group of Hamiltonians. Thanks to Keanin Loomis, president and CEO of the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, and Doug Ward and Paul Lakin, members of the chamber’s Science, Technology and Innovation Sub-Committee, we found ourselves introducing social innovation labs to a room full of business owners, academics, community leaders, political leaders and civil servants at McMaster Innovation Park.

Continue Reading… 

 

Emerging Stronger 2014: Hamilton leading the way

Hamilton, ON, FEB 11th 2014: The Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula region leads the province in business confidence, according to a new survey from the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and Leger Marketing. The annual Ontario Business Confidence Index shows that 59 percent of surveyed businesses are confident in Ontario’s economy–up a significant 15 percentage points from last year.

The index also shows that 82 percent of businesses in the region are confident in their own organization’s outlook, a 12 percentage point increase over the previous year. Over 71 percent of businesses in the region plan to expand within the next five years.

“The results of the index reaffirm the incredible momentum and energy in the Hamilton community over the last few years”, says Keanin Loomis, CEO Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “We hope to continue working with all levels of government over the next year to ensure we utilize effective policy and legislative tools necessary for the business community to realize their goals”.

“The Hamilton-Niagara region is home to some of Ontario’s most forward-thinking and able businesses,” said Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “It only makes sense that they would lead Ontario in confidence.”

The survey of businesses is featured in Emerging Stronger 2014, a business-driven economic agenda released by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and authored by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, the Mowat Centre and Leger Marketing. The report identifies the immediate steps that government and the private sector must take to enhance Ontario’s economic competitiveness and spur job creation in the province.

“There are actions that government and business can do to boost our economy and business confidence,” adds O’Dette. “While confidence is up big time in the Hamilton-Niagara region, we’re still concerned about uncertainty in the overall business climate, including pending changes to the pension environment and energy costs.”

“There are a number of recommendations within the Emerging Stronger report that stuck out to me as incredibly relevant for the Hamilton regional economy” says Keanin Loomis, CEO Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. “Through a series of improvements to the regulatory environment, talent development and developing strategic cluster strategies as highlighted in report, the Ontario government can play a significant role in the future of Hamilton”.

Among the survey’s findings are:

●    The Hamilton-Niagara Peninsula region is the most confident region in the province.
●    81 percent of businesses are confident in their own economic outlook, 7 percentage points above the provincial average.
●    72 percent of businesses in the region plan to expand in the next five years, a significant increase of 13 percentage points compared to the previous year.
●    47 percent of businesses in the region believe that Ontario’s economy is headed in the right direction, a slight drop from the previous year.
●    59 percent of the region’s businesses are confident in Ontario’s economy, 11 percentage points above the provincial average.

Read Emerging Stronger 2014:https://www.dropbox.com/s/ko8w93f5ba2r1z6/Emergingstronger14_Hamilton.pdf.

For more information:
Huzaifa Saeed
Policy & Research Analyst
905-220-3030
h.saeed@hamiltonchamber.ca

Government of Canada funds research at McMaster University to strengthen healthcare

February 19, 2014 

 Parliamentary Secretary Eve Adams on behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, announced $6.5 million in funding to McMaster University for a project to study the use of team-based care as a way to achieve better health outcomes for patients and make the system more cost effective.

The project: “Teams Advancing Patient Experience: Strengthening Quality,” (TAPESTRY), will examine how changing the way a primary healthcare team operates and interacts with its patients can improve the quality and efficiency of primary healthcare services.  By integrating resources such as community volunteers, eHealth technologies and system navigation, the project will support patient-centred care and stronger connections to community services.

The TAPESTRY project is expected to provide valuable information regarding ways to increase access to primary healthcare services.  The initiative aims to generate evidence and develop tools to assist provincial and territorial governments in addressing ongoing primary healthcare challenges.

Quick Facts

  • The Government of Canada is one of the largest investors in healthcare research with more than $1 billion invested annually.
  • The Government of Canada has increased health transfers to the provinces and territories to unprecedented levels. This funding will continue to grow, reaching $40 billion by the end of the decade.
  • The need for innovation, both in terms of medical technologies and healthcare delivery systems, is a significant public policy challenge that the Government of Canada is committed to addressing.

Quotes

“Innovation is critical to improving the efficiency of the healthcare system but also to helping Canadians maintain good health. This project is looking at innovative ways that health professionals can work together to provide care to Canadians.”
Eve Adams 
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

“We’re finding ways to combine the personal touch of community volunteerism and the latest technologies to improve primary health care. The TAPESTRY project will connect citizens with their health care team to encourage early identification of potential health problems. This is important for Canadians and for the efficiency of our health care system.”
Dr. David Price
Professor and Chair, Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University

“The TAPESTRY project promises us great insight on new and effective ways to provide proactive health care for Canadians in their own homes. This is an important advance towards improving health, starting with older adults.”
John Kelton
Dean and Vice President, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University

“The TAPESTRY project is an ideal platform for advancing patient health through collaboration.  Combined with access to evidence-based information, such as through the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal, Canadian citizens, clinicians, public health professionals and policymakers will be able to make informed decisions and support older adults to remain healthy and engaged as long as possible.”
Dr. Susan Denburg
Director of the Labarge Optimal Aging Initiative and Associate Vice-President, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University

“As a community volunteer for TAPESTRY, I enjoy making connections with older adults in our community that enable them to become more engaged in their own health and encourage discussion with their health care team about services they may require from the community.  I think the inclusion of university students in the volunteer program is a very positive and enjoyable experience for the older adults.”
Linda Gill
Community volunteer for the TAPESTRY project.

Contacts:
Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health
(613) 957-0200

Susan Emigh
McMaster University Faculty of Health Sciences,
Public Relations
905-525-9140 ext. 22555

Health Canada
Media Relations
(613) 957-2983

Public Inquiries:
(613) 957-2991
1-866 225-0709

Life Science Cluster is a chance of a lifetime for Hamilton

From the Hamilton Spectator 

Hamilton has everything it needs to be a Canadian life sciences leader, except leadership.

A new study by the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce seeks to plug that gap by forming a new group to ignite development in the sector. The full report can be found by following the link here.

The study shows the city once known for steel and heavy manufacturing now is vying for the title of Canada’s health care capital.

To get that title, the study calls for a new leader to focus on the sector. Entitled Building a Life Science Cluster, the report says Hamilton has a “once-in-a-generation” chance to develop a new source of economic and social wealth if it can get all the players already in that field working together.

Chamber president Keanin Loomis said developing such a cluster has been talked about for years in Hamilton, but now there’s a clear road map to get there.

“This report isn’t just fluff, platitudes and generalities,” he said. “It’s the culmination of almost three years of work. It took a long time but it was done right.”

Loomis added the mere fact of doing the study helped focus the attention of players on the need to work together, and that should pay dividends in the future.

The chamber report said Hamilton already has the tools needed to build that cluster — what it needs is a catalyst to get all the other elements working together.

“Hamilton needs to increase the amount of dedicated infrastructure designed to nurture the formation of this industry cluster, such as life sciences incubation space. We have insufficient venture capital flowing to the region, and there are too few programs working to promote and exploit Hamilton’s life sciences assets, or to create a culture of commercialization within the life sciences sector itself,” the report notes. “Arguably, we also lack significant business expertise required to commercialize and support business ventures. Most importantly, there is no driving force or chief advocate leading the charge for the establishment of a life sciences industry cluster in Hamilton.”

To overcome that lack the chamber calls for the formation of a cluster working group consisting of leaders from the public and private sectors to ignite the next phase of development.

The report grew out of recommendations from the 2012 Hamilton Economic Summit. It notes there are 300 Hamilton companies involved in some type of life sciences work supporting 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. Players include firms such as Titan Medical Inc. which has a research facility in Ancaster working on new robotic surgical technology; Face the World Cosmetics, specializing in camouflage therapy for people with severe skin conditions and Hamilton Medical Research Group which works on developing new drugs and getting them to market.

The latest Labour Force Survey numbers from Statistics Canada show 53,300 people employed in manufacturing in December, up 9.8 per cent from the previous January. The professional/scientific and health service categories provided 81,500 jobs, up 10.4 per cent from January 2013.

The chamber report concludes building a successful life sciences cluster requires five elements: a critical mass of knowledge and talent; an industrial base; infrastructure and funding; the support of players in the sector; and a driving force.

Hamilton is ranked excellent or good on the knowledge and support of players scales, fair on the state of its life sciences industrial base and fair-to-poor on infrastructure and the lack of a driving force for development.

Developing a life sciences cluster has been part of Hamilton’s economic development strategy since 2010. Norm Schleehahn, the department business development manager, said in an email exchange Hamilton’s base of knowledge and institutions make the goal an achievable one for the city.

“We have a strong knowledge infrastructure with internationally ranked life science research institutions … and significant investments in developing technologists to address the service side of health care delivery,” he wrote.

Mayor Bob Bratina called the report “a good overview” of an important issue for the city and said he hopes to be able to bring a recommendation to council soon to “address some of the issues in the report.”

Key players in such a cluster will be institutions such as Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS), McMaster University and the McMaster Innovation Park (MIP).

Rob MacIsaac, new chief executive of HHS, praised the chamber for showing leadership on the issue and said the hospital network “will be at the table” when the strategy is set.

“I think it’s a no-brainer to anyone in Hamilton that we can achieve more by working together than we can alone,” he said. “This is a good first step in what we have to do.”

Zach Douglas, president of MIP, said his institution is already involved in the effort by creating a large incubator space. What’s more exciting, he added, is the sense all the players in the cluster accept the idea they have to work together.

“There’s clear evidence that some things are happening around here but more of it can be done,” he said. “Now we have to get everyone together to digest this report and see if there’s a way to move forward.”