What is a Cluster?
A cluster is a geographic concentration of companies, suppliers, and service providers of a related industry all within a ‘commutable distance’. Clusters allow companies to maximize their efficiency by providing for greater sharing of local infrastructure, better matching of skills between employees and employers, and the diffusion of knowledge among workers. Communities with an established cluster reap the rewards of robust economic growth and job creation.
Given Ontario’s leading role in neuroscience discovery, the Ontario Brain Institute (OBI) is working to stimulate the development and commercialization of neurotechnologies to detect and treat brain conditions as well as neuropharmacological agents to prevent and alleviate its symptoms. Ontario has already built a broad foundation in neuroscience research and is well positioned as an emerging neurotechnology and therapeutics cluster.
Identifying the Issues
A study was commissioned to evaluate Ontario's potential as a neurotech cluster. The study identified key characteristics where Ontario can compete globally:
- demanding customers
- constructive competition
- supporting service industry
- collaborative institutions
The study also identified two weak areas that Ontario must strengthen to move us closer toward developing a neuroscience cluster:
- a lack of access to capital
- insufficient managerial talent
Specific initiatives have been created to address the needs of the neurotech cluster, as outlined in the commissioned report. In response to challenges in accessing capital and the lack of management talent, OBI completed a $13 million “NeuroTech Ontario” cluster development initiative in partnership with FedDev Ontario and also created the Entrepreneurship and Management Training program.