U.S. contract research organizations (CROs) are often eager to expand operations into Europe, Asia and Africa, but neighboring Canada is often omitted from CROs’ plans for global expansion. Saratoga, N.Y.-based Criterium, however, is bucking that trend with the recent opening of its Toronto office.
“Canada is one [country] that, I think, a lot of companies tend not to focus on because it sits right next to America. They run operations out of America if they can. We felt that, looking at the market, Canada has a huge amount of value that they can add to the research industry,” said Lawrence Reiter, Ph.D., director of Global Affairs for Criterium.
Criterium’s new office, which opened in October, will conduct phase I through phase IV studies and offer the same services as Criterium’s other locations.
No trials are in progress yet, but two Criterium clients are looking at potential studies in Canada, and the CRO is waiting to learn whether they’ll be awarded those studies.
“It’s not as much that by being in Canada we can add any type of specific services, it’s that by being in Canada we’re investing in the Canadian market and the Canadian economy,” Reiter said.
Reiter is the only full-time employee based in Canada, overseeing operations there, and is supported by staff in the company’s New York office.
Criterium’s Toronto office is small for the time being, Reiter said, but the company is linked into a number of Canadian networks to provide a range of services.
“As we grow, we will hire local staff in Canada and create more of a presence here. It’s a model that we used in South Africa as well, and it’s a very successful model because it ensures that we’re not top heavy,” Reiter said.
Founded in 1991, Criterium began conducting clinical trials globally in 1997. In 2003, the company opened an office in Johannesburg, South Africa; in 2005, it opened offices in Pune, India, and Berghem, The Netherlands; and in 2007, the CRO opened offices in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Gedera, Israel. The company also has offices in Florida and California.
“We like to have a local presence in the countries where we aim to do our work. That’s why we looked at opening an office in Canada. So we could say to our clients not that we can do work in Canada but we do it out of the U.S., but we can say to them we actually have an investment in Canada, to the Canadian economy, and to bringing research into Canada itself,” Reiter said.