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Capitalizing on the Ontario Life Sciences and Medical Device Opportunity

Ontario Life Sciences Industry

Employing over 51,000 Ontarians, the Life Sciences industry comprises over 1,600 companies. Though pharmaceutical companies often get much of the life sciences spotlight, there are many other industry categories where Ontario companies are excelling including:

  • Diagnostic imaging services
  • Sports medicine
  • Optometry
  • Oncology
  • Immunology
  • Genetics
  • Genealogy
  • Zoology
  • Marine biology

Many companies choose to locate their operations in Ontario due to the availability of tax credits and programs like the Industrial Research Assistance and Scientific Research and Experimental Development offerings from the National Research Council. These programs can be helpful to life sciences research and development, however Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) can often make the difference between a successful product launch and missing key milestones. Toronto is the second largest destination for FDI in North America after New York.

Some of the largest life sciences companies that have elected to locate their Canadian operations and/or headquarters in Ontario include:

  • Glaxo-Smith Kline
  • GE Healthcare
  • Roche Canada
  • Novartis Pharmaceuticals
  • Teva Canada
  • Novocol Pharmaceuticals
  • 3M

The Québec/Ontario life sciences “corridor” is ranked amongst the top five life sciences territories (nothing at this link) in North America at the BIO 2014 Interconnexion event in San Diego in June, 2014. This is attributed to the regions high standards of research, education and technological capabilities.

Ontario’s life sciences industry is credited with generating over $39 billion in revenue, around $6 billion of which is from exports.

Medical Device Technology Opportunities with FDI

Medical devices manufactured in Ontario include:

  • Diagnostics equipment such as imaging scanners
  • Preventative or protective tools and materials such as incontinence pads, sutures and bandages that promote healing
  • Assistive devices such as hearing aids
  • Prosthetic limbs and artificial tissue
  • Drug delivery devices such as IV drip machines or inhalers

The medical devices industry is worth approximately $1.4 billion annually in Canada. Ontario accounts for approximately 44% of this expenditure, or $620 million. About 80% of the manufacturing and distribution companies have their head offices located in Ontario. Many medical device companies are located in Ottawa, which is evolving into the medical device hub of Canada.

Many Ontario colleges and universities are partnering with medical device and life sciences industry, including:

  • University of Waterloo
  • University of Ottawa
  • Carleton University
  • University of Western Ontario
  • Algonquin College
  • Centennial College
  • Durham College
  • Clair College

The Canadian federal government recently invested $15 million into a Medical Devices Commercialization Centre in Ottawa. Some success stories of Canadian firms which have received foreign direct investment include:

  • AGFA Healthcare
  • Genadyne Canada
  • Medtronic Cryocath