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Life Sciences Innovation in BC

British Columbia is fostering a culture of scientific research and education, especially in the field of life sciences. It’s an environment which supports innovation and provides a depth of knowledge that leads to success.

Investors know the value of good research. Prior to making an investment, it is important to gather intelligence about companies, products, market demand and more to estimate the potential return on the investment. British Columbia’s life sciences sector benefits from state-of-the-art research institutions and numerous research centres which produce a strong labour pool, robust innovations and leading researchers in areas such as genomics, oncology, precision medicine, and medical engineering to name a few.

The British Columbia Institute of Technology in Burnaby, British Columbia, recently broke ground for a new health sciences centre that simulates real healthcare environments. The new building will prepare the next generation of healthcare providers for their careers, training approximately 7,000 health-sciences students annually in the fields of cardiology, sonography, nursing, pediatric and nuclear medicine.

Researchers at the University of British Columbia are working on a project to develop 3D printed tissues for medical use. They have partnered with Aspect Biosystems, a Vancouver-based company specializing in 3D bioprinting, to create living, human tissues for medical research, therapeutic discovery and regenerative medicine. The project is expected to be market ready within three years and would result in 3D printed tissues, which would reduce patient wait times, reactions to medications and complications during transplants. The tissues would also reduce the need for animal testing and allow transplant organs to be created rather than harvested.

The project received funding from the Ignite Program of Innovate BC, a Crown agency that connects innovators with B.C. government funding, tools, resources and support. Ignite selects projects for their commercial viability and potential to address significant environmental, social and healthcare benefits and factors that also appeal to investors and consumers.

Another major life sciences development with significant potential is based out of Saanich on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island. Aurinia Pharmaceuticals recently announced the successful Phase 3 trial of its drug Voclosporin. The drug is used to treat kidney inflammation in patients with the autoimmune disease lupus nephritis. Nearly one million people worldwide live with lupus, which can lead to kidney failure and death. The nature of autoimmune diseases makes them difficult to treat. Participants using Voclosporin in the trial experienced a response rate nearly double that of the control group. The drug is being reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the company hopes that it will pass the process as effectively as the trial suggests so it can be on the market by early 2021.

As these examples demonstrate, investors can be confident that businesses in British Columbia have access to leading research facilities to support projects that continue to build B.C.’s reputation in the life sciences sector.

Want to learn more? Stay tuned for a blog on the relationships between research and development accelerators and university start-ups. Contact us for information about opportunities in B.C. or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.