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Innovation thrives in Canada’s life sciences ecosystem

Canada has a long history of leadership in the life sciences, from creating the world’s first pacemaker to discovering stem cells. Canada is the tenth largest market for pharmaceutical sales and home to North America’s second largest life sciences corridor.

city with trees

“Canada’s life science brand is highly respected internationally. It has long been known, and sought after, for its expertise in R&D,” explains Zoe Hawa, Deputy Director, Life Sciences sector at Global Affairs Canada. “Innovation thrives here thanks in part to our academic institutions, cross‑industry collaboration and federal initiatives such as the Digital Technology Supercluster, the Pan‑Canadian strategy on artificial intelligence and the Strategic Innovation Fund.”

Canada’s life sciences ecosystem includes strengths in key industry subsectors such as:

Personalized health

Canada is a pioneer in precision health, with ground‑breaking discoveries like insulin and the gene for cystic fibrosis. Now Canadian companies are at the forefront of research and development driven by the increasing global burden of chronic disease and fuelled by advancements in technology and molecular medicine. Among these companies are:

Digital health

Canada’s digital health investments hit a record $8.6 billion in 2018. Canada’s innovation and adoption of technologies, from electronic health records to wearable health devices, are transforming the way we deliver healthcare.

Natural health products (NHP)

Canada’s pristine natural landscapes, agricultural expertise and strict safety standards have made us a leading supplier of raw materials and manufactured products to the global NHP market.

Animal health

Canada is a leader in animal health, with particular expertise in reducing food‑borne illness risks and finding sustainable alternatives to antibiotics.

Collaboration fuels Montreal’s life sciences cluster

Canada is home to several clusters where large concentrations of companies and institutions in the life sciences ecosystem collaborate and innovate. Montréal InVivo is a non‑profit organization that works with all stakeholders in the city’s life sciences cluster, including more than 620 organizations, 11 post-secondary institutions and 41,000 skilled workers. It aims to create an environment that fosters innovation, growth and competition.

“We are industry‑led, university‑fuelled and government funded,” explains Frank Béraud, CEO of Montréal InVivo. “We work for the benefit of the whole ecosystem, ensuring all areas of the industry are represented at our strategic meetings. Our members explore common pain points with the goal of bringing to market innovation from companies throughout Quebec.”

Twelve years ago, the cluster’s first project — the Biopharmaceutical Research Consortium (CQDM) — saw three pharmaceutical companies and the Government of Quebec collaborate on technology projects to accelerate drug discovery. A decade later, CQDM has grown to 12 members and is partnering with other provinces and Europe.

Montréal InVivo was also instrumental in the creation of the Quebec Network for Personalized Health Care, the BIOSUCCÈS Mentoring Network, the Personalized Medicine Partnership for Cancer and the signature life sciences conference, EFFERVESCENCE.

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