From its downtown Charlottetown location, PEI BioAlliance is helping high-potential bioscience companies on the Island beat a path to global markets.
“Many Atlantic Canadians have yet to understand the true potential of bioscience-based businesses,” says Executive Director Rory Francis. “We’re helping to change that. The only limit for the bio sector in this region is our imagination.”
Since 2005, PEI BioAlliance’s cluster of companies has tripled in size from 20 to 60. Today, these firms generate more than $240 million in private sector revenue, employ more than 1,800 people and account for more than $21 million per year in investment attraction. Since January 2018, the cluster has created 300 new bio-based jobs in Prince Edward Island.
PEI BioAlliance—a partnership of businesses and academic, research and government agencies—is home to the Emergence Bioscience Business Incubator, a national program supporting startup and scale-up companies from across Canada. A virtual incubator, the program serves high-potential bioscience companies, and provides a “soft landing” for innovative international ventures seeking to launch in, or expand into, North America.
Other key infrastructure includes Natural Products Canada, a Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research; and a suite of fermentation and downstream processing equipment for the biotechnology industry, located at BioFoodTech on UPEI’s campus.
In fact, the diversity of opportunity for Island firms is enormous and growing, ranging from health-related products for human, animal and fish health and nutrition to pharmaceutical manufacturing, diagnostics and cannabis-derived health products.
Francis credits government and post-secondary partners—such as ACOA, Innovation PEI, National Research Council, UPEI, and Holland College—for supporting the ecosystem that helps high-tech, high-value biotech companies in the region reach their true potential. In this, he adds, global markets must always be top of mind.
“Both large and small companies within the PEI bioscience sector are expanding primarily through international exports,” he says. “Guiding people in this direction is a big part of what we do at PEI BioAlliance.” •