Why the CEO of Orlando Corp. believes we need a Canadian Stem Cell Strategy
Supporting health research comes naturally to Carlo Fidani. It’s in his blood.
“My grandfather was a benevolent man” says Mr. Fidani, Chair and CEO of the Orlando Corporation, one of the oldest and most successful construction and real estate development companies in Canada. “Even in the Depression, when we he didn’t have much, he found ways to help people.”
His father, Orey Fidani, inherited the generosity gene and “felt that investing in health care was something he could do to help the most people.” He passed the character trait along to Carlo, who has taken things to new heights. In 2011, responding to the shortage of doctors in Ontario, Mr. Fidani contributed $10 million toward the University of Toronto’s Terrence Donnelly Health Sciences Complex to train more students to become MDs. He has also made major donations to advance cancer and mental health research and treatment.
He supports the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy & Action Plan, “because the promise of stem cells is massive.” The man whose company controls more than 40 million square feet of commercial real estate in the Greater Toronto Area sees beyond potential stem cell cures and treatments. He sees the science yielding significant economic dividends.
“The medical aspect of the stem cell is only a part of it. It’s also the economics. If we can reverse the damage of a heart attack, or help someone out who has Parkinson’s or repair a spine, can you imagine what that would do to for the financial model of our health care system?”
Noting that Canada “has always been at the epicentre of stem cell science,” he sees stem cell R&D boosting our economy by creating high-quality jobs. “It’s important from the economics perspective that we continue to find drivers of employment for highly talented people. If we want to consider ourselves a knowledge-based society, this to me is a perfect landing pad for future opportunities.”
To make it all work, though, will mean bringing together the stem cell scientists, the federal and provincial governments and Canadian industry – all pooling their resources and expertise to create and implement the Canadian Stem Cell Strategy.
“It’s no different than running a business. If we have a national strategy we’re going to be far more productive. Right now the stem cell community is not getting the financial support it needs. In Canada, we can do more with a dollar than virtually any other country in the world. My sense is that’s why the Strategy is so critical. If we have the ability to do that – if we have the support – we can produce some particularly spectacular results.”