Gateway Gazette

Partnerships to Turn Alberta Research into Business

New partnerships with the University Hospital Foundation and leading pharmaceutical companies, Servier and Merck, will help dozens of Alberta health innovators market their discoveries to the world.

Chirifi Guindo, President of Merck Canada, Christy Holtby, VP University Hospital Foundation and Deron Bilous, Alberta Minister of Economic Development and Trade at BIO 2017.

Twelve Alberta biotechnology and health sciences organizations joined Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous at the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s (BIO) annual conference in San Diego this week. During the conference the minister secured more than $5.4 million in funding partnerships to give Alberta health researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs the opportunity to work alongside world-leading health industry experts to turn Alberta discoveries into businesses with products for the global market.

“Alberta’s health innovators are making our province proud – attracting international attention and investment. World-renowned life-sciences experts want to help our researchers and entrepreneurs create new products and businesses based on Alberta discoveries. That means healthier lives for people around the world – and new jobs and a more diversified economy here at home.”

Deron Bilous, Minister of Economic Development and Trade

The Alberta government has joined forces with Servier, an international pharmaceutical company, Merck, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, and the University Hospital Foundation to create two multi-partner funds. Combined, the two funds will provide $5.4 million of support, with $1.6 million from the Alberta government and the remainder from the other three partners.

The first fund is the $1.7-million Servier Alberta Innovation in Health Fund (SAIHF). Servier has a long history of helping turn health research into products sold around the world. Its network of thousands of internationally renowned experts will help Alberta researchers in cardiac sciences, diabetes, neurology and oncology create and market their new products and discoveries to international investors.

“Servier Canada is pleased to partner with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and the University Hospital Foundation to establish the Servier Alberta Innovation in Health Fund. The province of Alberta is recognized for having both nationally and internationally respected leaders in health research and innovation. The SAIHF fund will support their expertise to further advance initiatives and innovative health solutions that will lead to economic and societal benefits within the province.”

Frederic Fasano, Chief Executive Officer of Servier Canada

The second is a $3.74-million partnership with Merck and the University Hospital Foundation to create the Alberta Merck Innovation in Health Fund (AMI in Health Fund). One of the planned projects for the fund is a new health-technology business incubator that will help Alberta-based companies grow, while improving health-care practices and reducing health-care costs in Alberta. The fund will also support other innovation and industry-driven applied research projects in Alberta’s life-sciences sector, with the ultimate goal of advancing long-term health outcomes, quality of life, and economic prosperity for Albertans.

“Merck is excited to continue its work with Alberta’s most promising researchers and entrepreneurs as it works towards establishing the AMI in Health Fund in an effort to advance long-term health outcomes, quality of life and economic prosperity for Albertans. This potential collaboration between industry, philanthropists and the public sector would elevate the province’s life-sciences industry to new heights and allow us to more effectively respond to promising new discoveries.”

Chirfi Guindo, president and managing director, Merck Canada Inc.

“It is a great step forward for health care in Alberta – especially for the patients who will benefit. This partnership builds capacity for innovation that will change and save lives.”

Bob Bessette, chairman of the board of trustees for the University Hospital Foundation

While at the BIO 2017 conference, Minister Bilous also signed an MOU with Innovative Medicines Canada and BioAlberta to identify new ways to attract investment, expand research and improve patient access to medicines while supporting the economic diversification of the province.

Over the past 11 years, Alberta delegations at BIO have attracted more than $40 million in health-research investments. BIO is the largest biotech conference of its kind in the world, attracting 16,000 participants from 76 countries.

Minister Bilous will travel to San Francisco June 21-23 for investment attraction meetings with companies specializing in health tech, artificial intelligence and virtual reality.


About Servier Canada

Servier is an international pharmaceutical company governed by a non-profit foundation with its headquarters in Suresnes (France). With a strong international presence in 148 countries, Servier employs 21,000 people worldwide. Corporate growth is driven by Servier’s constant search for innovation in five areas of excellence: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, immune-inflammatory diseases and neurodegenerative diseases. Being completely independent, the Group reinvests 25 per cent of turnover in research and development and uses all its profits for growth.

Servier Canada was established in 1978 in Laval, Que., and employs over 320 people across Canada. Servier Canada is currently marketing medicines in cardiology, hematology and diabetes, and will soon market oncology products indicated as treatment options in hematological malignancies.

A past partnership with the University Hospital Foundation and the Government of Alberta’s Ministry of Economic Development and Trade brought the most advanced 3D imaging to the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute at the University of Alberta Hospital.

For additional information please visit our website at

About Merck Canada

Today’s Merck is working to help the world be well. Merck is a global health-care leader with a diversified portfolio of prescription medicines, vaccines and animal health products. In Canada, Merck markets more than 250 pharmaceutical and animal health products. Merck is a leader in a broad range of areas, such as cardiology, infectious diseases, respiratory, vaccines and women’s health, and is focused on expanding offerings in other areas, including virology, oncology and diabetes.

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About University Hospital Foundation

The University Hospital Foundation raises and manages funds to advance patient care, research and health-care education at the University of Alberta Hospital, the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute and the Kaye Edmonton Clinic.

Learn more at:

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