Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending BIO International Convention 2019. I was excited for the opportunity to meet with many bright-minded individuals from across the biotechnology industry to share ideas.

Hosted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this year, BIO is facilitated by the Biotechnology Innovation Organization, a group representing over 1,000 organizations across 30 countries.

This year, one of my main goals for the conference was to gain a better understanding of healthcare priorities from provincial and federal governments, as well as developments in the policy space. I was pleased by the dialogue with government leaders and stakeholders, and learned there is a real willingness to further explore areas of common interest—addressing the rising prevalence of diabetes is a common priority. There is a lot of motivation for Canada to maintain a strong life sciences sector: it produces jobs, investments and patient focused innovations. That’s good news for all.

In addition to learning from other attendees at the conference, I was also thrilled to share news about an important Novo Nordisk partnership initiative.

In 2018, The University Hospital Foundation (UHF), Government of Alberta and Novo Nordisk Canada Inc. announced the establishment of the Novo Nordisk Alberta Diabetes Fund (NOVAD). This year at BIO, we announced the winners of the 2019 NOVAD Fund Competition.

The three winners, Dr. Diana Mager, Dr. Denise Campbell-Scherer, Dr. Padma Kaul, are leading groundbreaking investigations to determine gaps in diabetes and obesity care and develop future innovations to benefit patients. In 2020, the three funded projects will report on the outcomes of their research, and one project will be selected by the NOVAD steering committee to be further developed based on those outcomes.

The announcement was well received on the convention floor. We’re pleased by the success of this partnership in Alberta, and are hopeful that similar partnerships in other provinces may be possible in future.

What makes the NOVAD project particularly rewarding is that it enables me to be a part of a bigger team that goes beyond Novo Nordisk. Programs like NOVAD allow us to collaborate with like-minded stakeholders and improve health outcomes for the millions of Canadians living with diabetes and obesity. By working more collaboratively with the public sector, initiatives like NOVAD allow us to have a broader impact on healthcare delivery—keeping the patient at the heart of our work. This is not only good news for patients, but also serves to live up to the Triple Bottom Line philosophy that is so central to Novo Nordisk.

From start to finish, the conference proved, once again, to be a vital opportunity to gain and share knowledge.

Back in our Mississauga, Ontario head office, we continue to make learning an ongoing priority as evidence of the Novo Nordisk Way. For me, this means following my interests in broader public policy, building my knowledge beyond the pharmaceutical industry. Between formal training and personal research, I let my curiosity drive ongoing learning, year in and year out.