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Ontario injects $4 million into McMaster biomedical facility

 By Kevin Werner, News Staff

 If Hamilton is to survive economically in the fierce global marketplace it has to shed its heavy manufacturing shell and develop a more diverse financial environment with world-renowned partners.

McMasterUniversityis attempting to make it easier for the city to become a global player, by partnering with a German firm that could revolutionize the medical industry, while rejuvenating the city’s economic heart.

Ontario ministers Ted McMeekin, and Dr. Eric Hoskins announced April 14 at the Michael DeGroote Centre for Learning and Discovery $4 million to help construct a $20 million biomedical facility that will eventually be located at the McMaster Innovation Park.

Patrick Deane, president of McMaster University said the funding will help to “capitalize on our talent and resources to accelerate the commercialization of our research for the global market.”

Flamborough councillor Robert Pasuta, representing Mayor Bob Bratina at the event, said it’s timeHamiltonlooked to other technologies to benefit the community rather than just the steel industry. He said the biomedical facility will go a long way towards creating needed jobs for highly skilled people.

The research the McMaster University facility is proposing to do will automate the production of cell therapies, which will lower the cost of treating diseases.

Hoskins, a McMaster University graduate, who is minister of economic development, trade and employment, and a physician, said the facility will “change the future course of medicine.”

“It will establish Hamilton as a hub forOntario’s life sciences sector,” he said.

McMaster officials are seeking $4 million from the municipality, and another $8 million from the federal government to ultimately build the 50,000-square-foot facility, called the McMaster-Fraunhofer Project Centre for Biomedical Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing at the Innovation Park on Longwood Road. It is expected to create about 100 jobs involving scientists and industry researchers.

McMaster University has already signed a memorandum of agreement with the Fraunhofer-IZI Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology. It is located inLeipzig, about 150 kms south of Berlin. Founded in 2005, the institute’s research involves antibodies, and stem cell technology.

There are three German biotech companies interested in relocating toHamiltonto be close by the new facility, McMaster officials have said.

The growing cell therapies industry is estimated it will generate annual revenues of about $10 billion by 2021.

In a letter sent to councillors in February, Mo Elbestawi, vice-president of research at McMaster, stated the opportunity to partner with the German firm is “unique and ideal” for “Hamilton to capture the true economic value of the research that is conducted in McMaster facilities.”

McMaster officials would like to begin construction on the facility in September, but the goal is contingent on all three levels of government committing to their funding proposals by May or June.

The German firm is proposing to spend $13 million in operating costs for the facility over four years.

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