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Innovation Place Newsletter April 1999 Edition Fermentation pilot plant officially opened The Saskatchewan Research Council's (SRC) new fermentation pilot plant at Innovation Place was officially opened on March 12, by Minister of Natural Resources Ralph Goodale, on behalf of Agriculture and Agri-Food Minister Lyle Vanclief, with Saskatchewan Premier Roy Romanow. Constructed with the assistance of a $3.4 million grant from the Canada-Saskatchewan Agri-Food Innovation Fund (AFIF), the fermentation plant wil support the growth of the biotech industry by helping firms by bringing their products to the commercialization stage more quickly. The facility also received $300,000 from the Strategic Initiatives Fund of Saskatchewan Economic and Co-operative Development for first-year start-up costs. The plant has a staff of three scientists and five technologists and wil grow with demand. The research team wil do work for the agri-food industry in Saskatchewan, and elsewhere on a cost-recovery or joint venture basis. Goodale cited the importance of biotechnology to Saskatchewan's agriculture and agri-food system. "By continually developing leading edge research and innovative solutions, we are improving the competitiveness of Saskatchewan's agri-food products. Romanow said, "The market for ag biotech products developed in Saskatchewan knows no boundaries, with the potential for sales totaling hundreds of millions of dollars." Many benefits to becoming a member of Boffins Club Membership has its advantages, especially membership in Boffins Club at Innovation Place. The club's inviting atmosphere has proven very popular with the community of Innovation Place, since the doors first opened on January 4, says manager Donna Cram. The club's decor follows the early century 'arts and crafts' movement, with oak beamed ceilings, hand hammered copper hardware and vintage-style light fixtures. Members and their guests can gather around charming antique tables and chairs, acquired primarily from across Saskatchewan as well as Alberta. The unique hardwood floor is a perfect complement to the heritage-style furnishings. "It's the original hardwood floor from the old Physical Education building on campus. It was salvaged during the demolition and installed at Boffins Club," says Cram. In addition to a spacious dining room and cozy lounge area, members can utilize two private meeting rooms at Boffins Club. The smallest room seats four to six; the largest, eight to 12. Each meeting room features its own natural gas fireplace, whiteboards and Internet access. "Response to Boffins Club has been very good," says Cram. "To introduce the club, we gave every tenant in the park a free three-month membership. Those free memberships expired March 31, so right now we're gearing up for the new campaign to sell memberships." A full individual membership to Boffins Club is priced at $210.00 per year, plus G.S.T.; corporate memberships are $100.00 per person, plus G.S.T. "Because our memberships run through January 31, our memberships for 1999 will be prorated for a ten-month period instead of the full year," says Cram. "The main difference with the full individual membership is that these members have billing privileges. We set up an account for each individual member. You don't have to bring in cash; you just sign your chit. At the end of each month, we send out a statement for the total 114 – 15 Innovation Boulevard Saskatoon, SK Canada S7N 2X8 Tel: 306.933.6295 Fax: 306.933.8215 email: amount," says Cram. A full individual membership also entitles you to reciprocal privileges at the U of S Faculty Club. "You can go over there and eat, write 'Boffins' member' on your chit and be billed at the end of the month," says Cram. She adds that Boffins Club has also proven to be a very popular destination for U of S Faculty Club members. Boffins' full individual members also enjoy reciprocity at over 100 university-based private member clubs across North America and around the world. "If you're going to Boston, your Boffins Club membership wil provide you with access to the Harvard Faculty Club. If you're going to Manitoba, you'll be welcome at the Manitoba Faculty Club. Some of these clubs offer overnight accommodation and fitness facilities. So an individual membership at Boffins Club opens a lot of doors," says Cram. Included with a full individual membership is a free spousal card at no extra charge. "However, spouses do not receive voting privileges at membership meetings." Corporate members do not have access to reciprocal privileges at the U of S Faculty Club. "The corporate membership basical y gives you access to Boffins Club. Corporate members can book our private rooms, and bring in guests to the club," says Cram. Both full individual and corporate members are invited to attend special member functions hosted by Boffins Club, including seasonal events like the Easter Brunch, the monthly Gourmet Dinner Series, occasional wine and beer tastings and cooking demonstrations. "Executive chef manager Peter Phillips is also organizing a guest chef series, where different chefs will be invited for a special evening at the club. The chefs will create their own menu for the evening, then prepare these fabulous dishes for our members," says Cram. Boffins Club opens weekday mornings at 8:00 a.m., serving a continental breakfast. Full breakfasts can be catered for breakfast meetings held in the club's meeting rooms. Lunch is served from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. weekdays. "The menu changes seasonally, four times a year. On top of the regular menu items, there are also daily specials, including a sandwich special, pasta special and daily special. Peter also does a spectacular dessert menu, if you have room after lunch," says Cram. Club members have been enthusiastic about the affordable prices offered at Boffins Club, says Cram. "Our prices range from $5.95 and up." Every Thursday evening, Boffins Club remains open for a special evening of gourmet dining. "The menu changes every Thursday evening; there's always something new and exciting to try." Boffins' expert culinary team is led by Peter Phillips, who is also a member of Culinary Team Canada. Phillips will soon travel to Chicago for the international competition leading up to the Culinary Olympics taking place in Berlin in 2000. Boffins Club also boasts the expertise of chef de cuisine Michael Beaulé, formerly of Wanuskewin Heritage Park. "Michael specializes in Saskatchewan-theme food with a twist," says Cram. The lounge at Boffins Club is the perfect place to unwind after a hectic day. The lounge is open until 8 p.m. from Monday to Thursday, and until 10 p.m. on Fridays. Complimentary "nibbles" are served every Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. In addition to the beverage and food specials served in the lounge, Cram says that "we plan to bring in some informal entertainment, such as jazz performers." Work is progressing on Boffins Patio, which will feature a patio of inlaid stone surrounded by beautiful landscaping. "We'll be opening the patio for dining with a special menu of grilled items. We'll also be planning some special barbecue events, including a family barbecue for our members," says Cram. On evenings and weekends, Boffins Club caters to private functions. "We do anything from 114 – 15 Innovation Boulevard Saskatoon, SK Canada S7N 2X8 Tel: 306.933.6295 Fax: 306.933.8215 email: wine and cheese receptions to wedding banquets and anniversaries. The events have to be member-sponsored. I think we bring something really unique to a special event. You won't find any other facility like this in the city," says Cram. To confirm your membership renewal or to obtain further information, call Donna at 966-7771 or Pat at 249-5344. Log on to, and discover an animated websitedesigned to capture your attention and engage you in interaction! "The website includes a profile of Innovation Place, an overview of the park's facilities and services, up-to-date information about the tenants, statistical information about the park and an area for posting employment opportunities and resumés," says Austin Beggs, Innovation Place marketing manager. The new website was designed by D. Black & Associates in conjunction with programming features designed by QCC Communications. Website visitors can explore the park through virtual reality tours. At present, the virtual tours are limited to the park's meeting rooms. "In the next few months, we'll be adding a tour of the entire park in virtual reality format, along with additional information about each individual building within the park." Tenants can use the website to book any of the park's meeting rooms and squash courts. "Tenants can also request maintenance services on-line from replacing burnt-out light bulbs to building repairs. A pull-down menu lists the most common maintenance services that tenants may require. "All tenants have to do is pull down the menu, and click on the required service. That's done through "Fixit" at," says Beggs. "We encourage people to use this on-line service, as it's very effective easy to use." The new website will keep tenants informed about upcoming events and activities taking place at the research park. The current edition of the Innovation Place Newsletter is posted on the website, along with newsletter archives dating back to 1994. "The newsletter is also now available in Acrobat pdf format, so website readers can view the newsletter as it appears right off the press. "We are going to continue to improve the website, to keep it fresh and dynamic. Feedback on the new website has been very positive," says Beggs. What is Canada's largest pharmaceutical company doing at Innovation Place? M erck Frosst Canada is the country's largest pharmaceutical company, employing over 1,400 people from coast to coast. Approximately 1,000 work at Merck Frosst's Canadian headquarters in Kirkland, Quebec, near Montreal. The Kirkland headquarters are home to Merck Frosst's corporate offices and mammoth production plant, where more than 100 different pharmaceutical products are manufactured for the Canadian market. The Kirkland facility is also home to the renowned Centre for Therapeutic Research. Here a team of 300 researchers, scientists, technicians and support staff conducts leading edge clinical and medical research. The Merck Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research is one of eight R & D centres operated by Merck & Co., Inc. around the globe. Each centre has its own research mandate. At the 114 – 15 Innovation Boulevard Saskatoon, SK Canada S7N 2X8 Tel: 306.933.6295 Fax: 306.933.8215 email: Kirkland centre, scientists are researching and developing new treatments for respiratory and inflammatory diseases. The team is also spearheading research on apoptosis, or "programmed cell death." Regulation of this key process in the body may have important therapeutic applications for disease including cancer, neurodegenerative and cardiovascular disease. Research is crucial to maintaining the company's position as a leading innovator in the pharmaceutical industry. In 1997, Merck Frosst spent more than $80 million on research alone. The July 1998 edition of Report on Business Magazine ranked Merck Frosst third among all Canadian companies, regardless of sector, in terms of total R & D investment. With such a strong focus on research and development, it's not surprising that when Merck Frosst decided to establish a presence in Saskatchewan, the decision was made to locate first in Saskatoon, and then at Innovation Place. Although Business Group Manager Kirk Dinan is quick to stress that the office at 224 - 111 Research Drive is purely an administrative office, and not home to any research activity, he says the company wanted to be in close proximity to the University of Saskatchewan. "Merck Frosst has involvement in every academic centre across the country. It was important for us to be close to the University of Saskatchewan's College of Medicine. If you're going to be in Saskatoon, Innovation Place is the place to be." Merck Frosst has 14 staff members in Saskatchewan, says Dinan, all primarily involved in sales and marketing. "Our division focuses oncardiovascular medicine, osteoporosis, HIV/AIDS management and the asthma market. Our job is to bring information about treatment options for patients with these conditions to general practitioners, specialists and pharmacists. We explain how our medicines will benefit their patients, in terms of efficacy and tolerability supported by clinical evidence." Merck Frosst staff members provide this information through one-on-one consultations with medical experts, as well as by sponsoring medical symposiums, speaker programs and seminars for physicians and pharmacists. The company also works closely with local health organizations, including the Hypertension Society, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Saskatchewan and the Saskatchewan Lung Association to inform the public about the symptoms to watch for and available treatment options. "Tremendous advances have been made in virtually every decade since the 1950s in managing many health conditions, from hypertension to asthma," says Dinan. Among those advances is the company's new release for the management of asthma, a drug with the brand name of Singulair®, which was researched and developed at the Merck Frosst Centre for Therapeutic Research. "There have been very few medications discovered and developed in Canada, not only by Merck Frosst, but by any other pharmaceutical company." New medications give doctors more choices in treating patients. "For certain patients, these new drugs are either more effective in terms of control, or they reduce the potential of adverse effects." "Merck Frosst has always been a company concerned with patient outcomes. Our business, the direction of our research and the way we market our drugs, is supported by evidence-based medicine. "Although we're a large pharmaceutical company, Merck Frosst was founded on the belief that people come first. 'If you look after the people, the profits will follow.' That's always been Merck's philosophy, and continues to hold true today. "By investing in people and supporting research and education programs, Merck Frosst will continue to enhance the healthcare of all Canadians," says Dinan. ®Trademark Merck & Co.Inc.,Merck Frosst Canada & Corp. licensed user. 114 – 15 Innovation Boulevard Saskatoon, SK Canada S7N 2X8 Tel: 306.933.6295 Fax: 306.933.8215 email: Four Saskatchewan organizations received $590,000 in funding from Ag-West Biotech Inc. to further projects in human health, environmental remediation and cereal genetics, in a March 3 announcement by Ag-West president Peter McCann. Prairie Plant Systems of Innovation Place received a $150,000 equity investment to develop specialized plants for mine site revegetation and to expand the program at its bioesecure growing facility located deep in a mine at Flin Flon which examines therapeutic plant proteins for potential in treating cancer. Ag-West also provided $50,000 in strategic bridge funding to support a cereal genetics joint project between the NRC Plant Biotechnology Institute and the National Science and Technology Board of Singapore. The project is aimed at putting transposon gene constructs into wheat and barley and analysing the resulting transgenic plants. In animal health, Saskatoon Colostrum Company received $240,000 to support the entry of Headstart, its colostrum-based product for the cattle and dairy industry into the U.S. market. On the human health front, Termidor Corporation received $150,000 to further test its plant extract Termidol V, which holds promise in treating the Herpes Simplex A and B viruses. McCann says the recipients reflect the scope of endeavor in the ag biotech industry. "These organizations are pursuing opportunities that are redefining and expanding what we think of as agriculture." Innovation Place has once again moved into the fast lane, with the completion of upgrades to the park's communications network. Leasing manager Larry Paskaruk says both the Internet access and the data network have been upgraded "and both score high marks on performance." Following the installation of new equipment, materials and configurations, the cutover to the new six-megabyte link was completed over the noon hour, on March 4. "The new link now provides four times the original capacity to the Internet," says Paskaruk. On March 8, installation of the park's new data network was complete, and work began to connect each of the park's 100 tenant companies to the system. Today, most of the companies are operating on the new network; any companies not yet connected soon will be. "Both the Internet access and the park network are now fully operational, and are performing very well." The improved performance of the data network can be measured three ways, says Paskaruk. "One measure is the capacity of the link itself. The average utilization during regular business hours is between 600 kilobytes per second to about 1000 kilobytes per second. With the six-megabyte link, we now have spare capacity. "The other way of measuring performance is the download rate. In the past, we experienced download rates as slow as five kilobytes per second. Now, we're at 500 kilobytes or greater, depending on the file size. "The third performance standard is the link latency, or the amount of time that a packet of information takes to return once it's sent out. This has been significantly reduced by a multiple of five, and is settling right around the 20 mili-second time frame. "By all measures, the performance of the communications infrastructure is doing quite well," says Paskaruk. The next step is to establish a service level agreement, to ensure that a baseline of performance standards wil continue to be met. "The service level agreement will provide assurance that the network will be maintained properly. It will also establish clear ground rules 114 – 15 Innovation Boulevard Saskatoon, SK Canada S7N 2X8 Tel: 306.933.6295 Fax: 306.933.8215 email: for acceptable uses of the network by tenants." Paskaruk says that the park's Information Technology steering committee, which is comprised of IT sector tenant companies, will meet with park administrators on an ongoing basis to determine the elements required for the best service level agreement possible. "Park tenants are pleased with the initiative taken by SaskTel to upgrade and instal the new Internet link and park routers. The data network is now able to serve the present needs of the tenants of Innovation Place," says Paskaruk. "However, we believe that the needs of tenants wil continue to grow geometrically. The extra capacity that we have right now could easily be used up in a short period of time. We now have to be proactive in our management of the network, so we can anticipate future demand and provide for it. "This is where monitoring and utilization will be important, so we can get into trend analysis, and create a model to help us anticipate future usage of the data network." 114 – 15 Innovation Boulevard Saskatoon, SK Canada S7N 2X8 Tel: 306.933.6295 Fax: 306.933.8215 email:


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