LifeSciences British Columbia 2019
British Columbia has a vibrant life sciences sector that continues to innovate and develop leading technology to help improve peoples’ lives. The province has a variety of startups, companies, post-secondary institutions and re-search centres doing cutting-edge work in precision medicine, biotech, oncology, digital health and genomics, to name just a few.
Regardless of the discipline, this sector continues to grow in our province, and LifeSciences BC is an important part of this success, providing leadership and promoting world-class science and business development throughout the industry.
The life sciences sector offers significant opportunities to work together to create good jobs, solve health challenges and improve lives for people around the world. Last April, together with the federal government, we invested $45 million in Vancouver-based STEMCELL Technologies. The investment will allow STEMCELL to create more innovative products that help people who need cell-based therapies and regenerative medicine to repair damaged tissue or organs. The company will build an advanced manufacturing facility in Burnaby and hire about 2,200 additional B.C. workers in the years to come.
We have also invested in British Columbia’s medical isotope industry to help advance treatments for people living with cancer, heart disease and other medical conditions. At TRIUMF, Canada’s national particle accelerator centre, we are helping build the Institute for Advanced Medical Isotopes, which will be a premier research centre for medical isotope production and radiopharmaceuticals for cancer therapy, drug development and clinical imaging. The Province provided more than $12 million, partnering with the federal government, university of British Columbia, BC Cancer Foundation and TRIUMF. The new institute will mean better treatment for thousands of Canadians suffering from a variety of illnesses.
Researchers across B.C. are working to improve peoples’ lives through precision medicine for asthma and chronic heart conditions, wearable biomedical technologies for rehabilitation, personalized cancer treatments and other developments. To support this type of research, we invested more than $40 million in state-of-the-art equipment for life sciences projects at post-secondary institutions through the BC Knowledge Development Fund.
Another big development for innovation in our province came with the launch of the B.C.-based Digital Technology Supercluster late last year. We anticipate that many exciting projects will come from the super-cluster initiative. LifeSciences BC played an important role establishing precision health as one of the top priorities for the first phase of operations. Projects in development have the potential to help improve people’s prescriptions based on their genetic makeup and medical history, improve skin cancer diagnoses using artificial intelligence and cloud-based medical imaging, and more.
In addition, progress has been made through the Cascadia Innovation Corridor to expand our economic connections in the region across diverse areas, including in the life sciences sector. B.C.’s Innovation Commissioner Dr. Alan Winter has been actively promoting B.C.’s life sciences to business, academic and government leaders through the region, and to international audiences and investors beyond our borders. For my part, in June 2018 I travelled to the BIO Conference in Boston, where I took the opportunity to highlight many local companies and share some of the exciting things that are happening in the sector. This year, I look forward to continuing that advocacy work both within British Columbia and around the world.
All of this adds up to a life sciences industry in B.C. that is thriving. People with skill and determination are creating life-saving products right here at home, and our government is committed to supporting this success into the future.
- Hon. Bruce Ralston, Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology