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Resilience in BC Life Sciences Sector

With more than 300 life sciences companies operating throughout the province, British Columbia has a vibrant health sector offering investment opportunities in diverse products and services. The industry in British Columbia is at the forefront of developments in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, medical devices and medical technology. With the government and community support that is integral to the industry culture of British Columbia, the life sciences sector is making strides in the fight against COVID-19.

The COVID-19 crisis has created enhanced medical needs, which have spurred innovation in life sciences in British Columbia Billions of dollars in capital have been extended during the pandemic to support research for life sciences and the investments are paying off in steps towards treatments, cures and preventions.

Vancouver-based company Abcellera is thinking creatively to address COVID-19 and has attracted federal funding to support its research. Ottawa has invested $175 million to further Abcellera’s research into antibody treatments for the coronavirus. Abcellera has also attracted private venture capital funding for this project.

In partnership with and funded by the Digital Technology SuperclusterVariational AI is using artificial intelligence to shorten the timelines and decrease the costs of treatment development. The company is working with adMare BioInnovations to apply generative artificial intelligence to identify approved medications that can be repurposed to rapidly create treatment options for COVID-19 patients. adMare BioInnovations is Canada’s national drug development venture and has helped create life sciences companies like Xenon-Pharma and Zymeworks.

Further examples of this type of creative technology being used alongside medical research are emerging daily.

British Columbia has demonstrated its commitment to scientific research with significant investments towards the development of facilities to support medical discoveries. In January of 2020, the University of British Columbia opened expanded Undergraduate Life Sciences Teaching Laboratories, specifically designed to help the next generation of researchers find ways to combat disease.

The university is also home to four Faculty of Medicine researchers who are now the principal investigators of teams collectively receiving more than $2.4 million in grants from the federal government to study COVID-19. The funding is focused on accelerating the development, testing, and implementation of measures to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Close links between academia, industry and government create a culture of collaboration and support for British Columbia’s life sciences sector that make it easy to pursue creative solutions to challenging problems. It also makes it easier for new offices and startups to get established and integrated into the research and development community.

British Columbia’s climate, natural beauty and recreational opportunities contribute to the quality of life outside the lab.

The province is home to one of the most vibrant life sciences industries in the world, contributing an estimated $805 million growth in revenues. To learn more about locating to British Columbia and joining this culture of innovation, contact us.

Find updates on COVID-19 response activities and resources in British Columbia and internationally from the Clinical Trials BC website. Read our other blogs on COVID-19 resources and the resilience of British Columbia’s business community, or follow us on LinkedIn or Twitter for regular updates.