B.C. Innovation in Life Sciences

B.C. Innovation in Life Sciences

February 2, 2018 Posted by Abby Pollen

Life sciences is one of the fastest growing tech sub-sectors in North America, and biomedical engineers are in growing demand. British Columbia is investing in education for the sector with funding that will create 624 undergraduate spaces for domestic students at the University of British Columbia (UBC) for biomedical engineering, computer science and manufacturing engineering programs. UBC will help address industry needs for qualified professionals in life sciences, biotechnology and digital health technology.

B.C.’s tech sector already employs more than 100,000 people and generates $26 billion annually, making it the fastest-growing tech workforce and fastest-growing tech sector in Canada. The recent rapid growth in British Columbia’s life sciences sector is attracting significant investment interest, and the Province is taking action by funding programs like the one at UBC as well as streamlining regulations for new businesses to ensure continued success for the industry.

Among the developments being pursued by British Columbia’s life sciences experts is a solution to childhood asthma, which could be tied to diapers and hygiene. Clean diapers prevent infants from exposure to infections and microbes in early life, which means reduced immune system development. Research funded by Genome Canada and the federal Large-Scale Applied Research Project (LSARP) is underway to determine causes and solutions. Using genetic sequencing, they will examine samples collected as part of the long-term Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) study. The study will follow babies from birth to age 5, with the goals of developing earlier testing as well as a means of safely introducing the beneficial microbes to prevent asthma.

STEMCELL Technologies Inc. has released two product lines for organoids, or 'mini-organs', for studying human disease in the lab. Organoids are complex, 3D, in vitro culture models. STEMCELL Technologies has released cerebral and intestinal organoid models that provide insight into development and disease mechanisms, and offer opportunities for individually tailored treatments.

Clarius Mobile Health, a medical-supply company based out of Burnaby, has grown from a 15-person startup in 2016 to a business employing more than 75 staff members since receiving clearance to develop and distribute their unique ultrasound device. The app-based, wireless, hand-held ultrasound systems are compatible with mobile devices like smartphones and tablets and are designed to conduct quick scans and bedside procedures for clinicians with limited access to equipment.

Organizations that generate support, investment capital and opportunities for life sciences innovators include Discovery Parks, which continues to support the health-tech community with resources like a 5,000-square-foot incubator space for high-tech startups called the Generator.  

Contact Trade and Invest BC for help finding the best location for your business, including arranging site tours and meetings with community leaders, as well as information on taxation, labour markets, business costs, permits and regulations. Our representatives can facilitate introductions with experts in all areas of business establishment and help you take advantage of various incentive and support programs. For regular insight into sectors across British Columbia, follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter


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