The perception of Canada on the international stage is often tied to its proximity to the US, its rich natural resources, and less than desirable climate. Although this may be true – at least in part - the global recession has forced many countries to re-examine their competitive positions and in this regard, Canada has chosen to pursue a path which will strengthen its knowledge-based economy and enhances its capacity in the areas of therapeutic development, energy, agriculture and the environment.The objective of this blog entry and my three subsequent entries is to provide some insight into the knowledge-based economy of this country with a particular focus on life sciences.
Related Resource: LSBC 2010 Magazine |
Private sector biotechnology within Canada is comprised of about 670 companies generating a direct economic impact of about $1.1 billion CAD annually. The segments encompassed within the sector include (in order of size): industry/environment, therapeutics, agriculture, and genomics. The historical epicentre of life sciences within Canada has been in Quebec albeit one-third of all Canadian biotechnology companies now reside in British Columbia (BC).
A recent economic impact study undertaken by LifeSciences BC suggests the provincial sector accounts for $500 million in direct expenditures and employs approximately 7,500 people. It should be stressed that these national and provincial figures represent a fraction of the total market which would take in to consideration direct, indirect, and induced impacts.
What makes BC so attractive to life sciences companies?
The BC Progress Board recently released its Tenth Annual Benchmark Report, noting several of these factors which include but by no means are limited to:
- Health outcomes in BC are better than anywhere else in Canada, pointing to the expertise resident within its medical system. The Province has one of the most diverse ethnic populations, the highest life expectancy, and the lowest cancer mortality rates.
- Access to healthcare and a centralized database in areas such as oncology and pharmaceutical prescriptions make Canada’s most westerly Province an ideal ‘living laboratory’ in which to conduct research, particularly for specialized populations or even post-marketing and surveillance studies.
- Environmental quality in BC is second to none. Protected areas, government policies, and a strong social sensitivity lends itself to a comprehensive approach to ecosystem management, which amongst other initiatives, is strongly supportive of alternative energy sources such as biofuels.
- A vast expanse rich in resources means biofuel and bioproduct organizations can be in close proximity to relatively secure sources of feedstock originating from forestry, agriculture and even municipal waste.
- Insofar as human capital, the percentage of BC’s population possessing a university degree is only second to that of Ontario.
Having provided some context insofar as Canadian and BC life sciences, the next three blog entries in this series will delve further in to a number of critical success factors for the sector; namely capital, collaboration and convergence. It is my hope that such information will serve as a catalyst for you to attend BioPartnering North America 2011 and explore the numerous opportunities that exist for you and your organization.
- Don Enns
President, Life Sciences British Columbia
About Life Sciences British Columbia
LifeSciences British Columbia supports and represents the biopharmaceutical, medical device, bioproducts & bioenergy, and greater life sciences community of British Columbia through leadership, advocacy and promotion of our world-class science and industry.. For more information, please visit http://www.lifesciencesbc.ca