LifeSciences 2018

LifeSciences British Columbia 2018

As your Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology, I am proud to support B.C.’s life sciences sector as it attracts highly skilled talent from around the globe and generates good jobs for a strong, sustainable economy.

British Columbia has a remarkable story to tell when it comes to innovation in the life sciences sector. We’re home to world-leading companies and post-secondary institutions that are doing cutting-edge research and creating innovative products that will improve the lives of British Columbians and people around the globe. It’s a story that has its best chapters still to come. We know that the knowledge economy is our path to a prosperous future, which is why we are placing our innovation agenda at the centre of B.C.’s economic strategy. Already, B.C.’s tech sector is a top performer, with more than 10,200 companies employing more than 106,000 people and counting. Tech salaries are around 85 per cent higher than B.C.’s average wage – and life sciences, with its highly skilled workforce, is certainly no exception.

Tech and life science entrepreneurs tell me that they need access to capital to scale up and succeed in the global marketplace. To get a fair share of federal funding and attract private-sector investment, we have recently appointed Dr. Alan Winter as B.C.’s first Innovation Commissioner. As the past president and CEO of Genome BC, his tremendous experience in life sciences makes him the ideal ambassador for B.C. tech and innovation in Ottawa, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor and overseas. Dr. Winter will work to strengthen B.C.’s national and cross-border relationships, secure federal funding and help to further establish the province as a preferred location for new and emerging technologies.

British Columbia’s innovation sector is growing. In February, it received a huge boost when a B.C.-based digital supercluster consortium was named one of five superclusters to get a share of $950 million in federal funding designed to stimulate innovation. The supercluster will help fund collaborative projects in the precision health sector, among others, over the next 10 years. Its health and genomic platform project will enable advanced cancer treatment through personalized onco-genomics, which will use a patient’s genetic makeup to inform treatment planning. This work will not only improve lives, but also generate good jobs for British Columbians.

We recognize that research and innovation are central to sustainable, long-term growth and a competitive economy. Growth in these areas requires investment and collaboration from both the private and public sectors. Over the last 10 years, the province has committed nearly $1.3 billion for research and innovation through programs and targeted investments, including Genome

BC and the B.C. Knowledge Development Fund. We expect to see further investment and partnerships to support the continued growth of our tech and innovation sector through the Innovation Commissioner’s efforts. Last year, my ministry’s Crown agency responsible for tech and innovation in the province, the BC Innovation Council, launched the province’s first health technology accelerator, Innovation Boulevard, to help tech developers commercialize medical devices, software and processes more quickly. The accelerator brings together industry, innovation, health workers and investors to solve major health industry challenges.

These opportunities are not just for big business. We know that a majority of life sciences companies are small businesses. To help these companies succeed, the province is launching the Small Business Task Force to understand the needs of entrepreneurs in every part of the province and build on actions already taken, including a reduction to the small-business corporate income tax by 20 per cent – from 2.5 to 2 per cent.

We also recognize that life sciences companies need access to skilled workers in order to grow. To help meet demand for new talent, we are expanding tech-related post-secondary programs by adding 2,900 seats by 2023 in post-secondary schools throughout the province. This investment will mean hundreds more graduates in computer science, biomedical engineering and related fields entering the workforce. Increasing the number of tech graduates is a key part of the #BCTECH Strategy and we will release an updated plan this spring. I hope you’ll join me in Vancouver May 14-16 at the #BCTECH Summit to discover B.C.’s most cutting-edge innovations first-hand.

There are many exciting developments happening in B.C.’s life sciences sector. Thanks to world-class companies, highly skilled talent and enhanced government and private-sector support for research and innovation, I am confident that B.C.’s innovators will continue to develop new technologies that will revolutionize the life sciences industry here and around the world.

- Hon. Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology