Life Sciences

With more than 1,100 companies, British Columbia, Canada, has a diverse life sciences sector offering investment opportunities in life sciences products and services.

British Columbia's vibrant and growing industry is at the forefront of developments in drug development and clinical research, medical devices and diagnostics, simulation technologies and regenerative medicine.
British Columbia is home to one of the most vibrant life sciences industries in the world, contributing an estimated $14.4 billion to B.C.’s GDP. 

Key Facts

Number of Establishments 1,154
Direct Employment 11,172
Average Annual Wage $65,376


Key Advantages

Our strategic location, outstanding talent, and generous incentives and tax credits for research and development create an attractive environment for life sciences companies.
  • World-class research hospitals and universities partner with research centres, creating a dynamic, collaborative network for researchers.
  • Cultural and recreational opportunities contribute to a high quality of life outside the lab – and a significantly lower cost of living than in key markets including San Diego, , New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
  • British Columbia’s diverse talent pool includes more than 11,100 employees working in the life sciences industry. Post-secondary institutions are training young people for future success in the sector.
  • A steady stream of innovation flows into British Columbia’s industries, thanks to our excellent educational institutions. The University of British Columbia alone has commercialized over 80 life sciences technologies through partnerships and licensing with corporate partners, and fostered 94 spinoff companies, including QLT
  • Research teams benefit from being in the same time zone as the scientific community in Washington State and California. Our strategic location means they can also connect with both Asia and Europe in the same business day.
  • B.C.’s large, flexible and educated workforce of 100,000+ across the broader tech ecosystem is well represented by young, diverse and energetic talent.
  • B.C.’s general corporate income tax rate is only 11%. When combined with the federal rate, businesses pay a combined rate of 26%.
  • B.C. has the lowest provincial personal income taxes in Canada for individuals earning up to $125,000.


Learn about British Columbia’s range of attractive business incentives.

Other Incentives
Incentive Qualifying Entities Incentive Details
Small Business Venture Capital Tax Credit Investors of venture capital funds  30% tax credit
International Business Activity Program Executives recruited to work in B.C.

Qualifying life sciences companies 
Refund of provincial income tax

Tax refunds on patent-related revenue 
Canadian Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR & ED) tax credit Canadian-controlled private corporations

Other corporations 
Tax credit of up to 35% of qualified expenses for work carried out in Canada
Tax credit of up to 15% of qualified expenses for work carried out in Canada 
British Columbia Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR & ED) tax credit Corporations conducting SR and ED in B.C.  Tax credit of up to 10% of qualified SR and ED expenses 
National Research Council Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) Small- and medium-size companies focused on the development and commercialization of innovative, technology-driven products, services, or processes in Canada Financial assistance provided on a case by case basis



Life Sciences Sector Support

British Columbia’s life sciences sector offers opportunities for strong public-private partnerships facilitated by the close links that have been established between academia, industry and the government. Companies looking to find their next strategic partner in British Columbia find support from LifeSciences British Columbia, which represents the life sciences community and provides links between government, academia and industry.

The life sciences sector in British Columbia also benefits from access to our world-class centres of excellence.

  • Advanced Applied Physics Solutions: This applied research facility develops and commercializes technologies emerging from worldwide subatomic research. It is an offshoot of TRIUMF, Canada’s national laboratory for particle and nuclear physics at the University of British Columbia.
  • Biomedical Research Centre: An interdisciplinary research centre.
  • UBC Centre for Brain Health: A partnership between Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia to advance knowledge of the brain and explore new discoveries and technologies that have the potential to reduce the suffering and cost associated with disease and injuries of the brain.
  • Canadian HIV Trials Network: A partnership of clinical investigators, physicians, nurses, people living with HIV/AIDS, pharmaceutical manufacturers and others that facilitate HIV clinical trials of the highest scientific and ethical standards.
  • Centre for Drug Research and Development: A national not-for-profit drug development and commercialization centre that provides expertise and infrastructure to enable researchers from leading health research institutions to advance promising early-stage drug candidates.
  • Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics: Researchers at the centre explore the genetic basis of disease and translate this knowledge into new prevention, diagnosis and treatment strategies.
  • Centre for the Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF): Established in 2008, PROOF aims to discover, develop and commercialize biological markers (biomarkers) to diagnose, prevent and treat heart, lung and kidney failure.
  • Child & Family Research Institute: An institute that researches children’s and women’s health issues.
  • Discovery Parks: Developer of specialized research facilities, especially for start-up and post-secondary spin-off companies.
  • Genome British Columbia: The institution’s projects have attracted over 300 major international co-funders and partner organizations, including multinational corporations, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
  • International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD): The largest spinal cord research centre in the world, ICORD helps drive neuroscience discoveries, along with British Columbia’s Blusson Spinal Cord Centre, Brain Research Centre and companies such as Allon Therapeutics, Neuromed and others.
  • The Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research: A support agency with a mandate to strengthen health research in British Columbia.
  • Prostate Centre’s Translational Research Initiative for Accelerated Discovery and Development: Established in 2008, the centre conducts research to develop new services and products that reduce suffering and improve survival rates for patients with cancer.


Success Stories

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BC Biotech Company Combating Diseases with Nanotechnology
A B.C.-based life sciencescompany that has created a platform to develop nanotechnology... continue
B.C.-based SignalChem expands into India
SignalChem Lifesciences Corp, a life sciences company located in Richmond, British Colu... continue