Minister Fitzgibbon recently made headlines after speaking out on the need to facilitate the industry’s access to Quebecers’ health data. Reactions have been strong and it is understandable that for anyone who is not familiar with this issue, it is a controversial topic and can be a source of great concern. However, I think this release had the merit of launching the discussion in the public sphere and it was important for the sector to be part of this debate, which is why, among other things, we decided to publish an opinion letter in La Presse. The Minister had in fact addressed this topic as being very important during his meeting with the members of the board of Montréal InVivo on August 17 and we can only agree with him. He took the opportunity of this meeting to reaffirm his support for our sector and announced the beginning of the work to update the Québec Life Sciences Strategy. The industry players will be able to rally again and get involved in this process to adapt the Strategy to an environment that has changed a lot in a few months.
One of the issues to be resolved is the need to adapt our healthcare network to give it the means to become what is called a “Venture Customer” of developed technologies here in Quebec. The health crisis demonstrated that it was possible to swiftly acquire and deploy new technologies to address urgent needs. How can we recreate this sense of urgency in a post-COVID-19 context in order to better support our companies and equip them for the large-scale commercialization of their technologies? Another finding related to the pandemic is the importance of accelerating the use of Internet of Things technology to prevent the most vulnerable patients from having to travel to healthcare facilities. It is in this perspective that Montréal InVivo piloted the submission of an initial application for funding to the Fonds d’accélération des collaborations en santé (FACS). Close to 30 partners (healthcare institutions, research groups, SMEs, large companies, entrepreneurship support organizations, foundations, etc.) have expressed their support for this project. This funding program is highly competitive and we have a few weeks ahead of us before we find out if our initiative is selected (we certainly hope so!) but the collaboration around us encourages us to continue to develop an impactful proposal in this sense, regardless of what happens with the FACS.
Finally, you may have noticed that the event “EFFERVESCENCE: The Future of Life Sciences” was awarded Best Conference in Canada at the Canadian Special Events Award 2020. A prestigious recognition that could raise the profile of our sector both nationally and internationally. EFFERVESCENCE will be back from March 15 to 17, 2021. In the meantime, several satellite events will be organized this fall with numerous partners. Not to be missed!