Overview of a strong and innovative industry
Life sciences and health technologies play an important economic role, in addition to producing numerous innovations and contributing to improving people’s quality of life. In Quebec, this sector is currently thriving. It includes stakeholders from various backgrounds who work together to make fascinating discoveries, generate new, cutting-edge applications, and develop innovative therapies. The members of Quebec’s ecosystem operate in synergy – namely through networks and agreements – to create a robust and internationally-recognized industry.
☛ Discover Quebec’s Assets
Quebec’s LSHT ecosystem is very active. It includes the following sectors:
- Generic, drug development, and contract manufacturing pharmaceutical companies
- Biotechnology firms
- Contract research organizations (CROs)
- Medical Technology
- Medical supply companies
- Natural health products
The development of health innovations is a major activity in Quebec. Four types of companies work in synergy to take a product from idea to market:
- Biotechs develop new and innovative products, platforms or processes related to human or animal health
- Contract research organizations provide specialized research services, such as conducting preclinical and clinical studies necessary to investigate the efficacy and safety of new therapies so they can reach the approval stage
- Contract manufacturing companies (CMOs) offer contract manufacturing services for pharmaceutical and natural health products on a commercial scale
- Pharmaceutical companies develop, manufacture, and market new drugs
Comprised of more than 456 companies, Quebec’s life sciences industry employs 56,000 workers and contributes $5.8 billion to Quebec’s GDP.
LSHT industry financing is different than that of other sectors. It may take several years between the time a potential target is identified and it is ready for market. Research is expensive, and revenues are low (or even non-existent) during this period. As a result, companies require significant investments to continue their activities. This is why venture capital plays an essential role in supporting and growing the industry.
☛ View the Executive Summary on the Study on public policy requirements and financing needs for the life sciences and biotechnology applied to human and animal health industry (in French only)
2017-2027 Quebec Life Sciences Strategy
The government recognizes the importance of the LSHT industry in Quebec, which is why it created the 2017-2027 Quebec Life Sciences Strategy. This strategy represents a $205 billion investment for the first five years, plus an additional $151 million to support research and fund businesses.
This ambitious plan aims to attract $4 billion in private investment to Quebec by 2022 and to make the province one of the sector’s five largest North American hubs by 2027. To accomplish this, several programs have been created, such as the BioMed Propulsion Program (in French only), which provides financial assistance in the form of an equity loan to serve as a leveraging effect for investments, and the Innovation Program (in French only), which finances innovation and innovation commercialization projects (including technology showcases).
Several venture capitalists invest in the different phases of drug development. The average size of Canadian funds is $116 million.
The CQDM is a biopharmaceutical research consortium that brings together world-class pharmaceutical corporations, several Canadian biotech companies, the best scientists from both the public and private sectors, as well as the Canadian and Quebec governments. Its mission is to fund the development of innovative tools and technologies to accelerate the discovery and development of safer and more effective drugs. Since 2008, the CQDM has raised over $90 million in contributions from various financing partners.
Incubators and industrial clusters
Incubators are one of the Quebec ecosystem’s greatest strengths. These technopoles are home to many LSHT companies and have the ideal infrastructure to help them develop.
Here are a few examples of incubators which promote the growth of local businesses:
This vibrant drug discovery hub hosts contract research organizations (CROs), biotech companies, and specialized commercialization support services and infrastructure.
The Biotech City is a metropolitan Montréal biotechnology and life sciences hub. The City includes large biopharmaceutical firms as well as research institutes.
In collaboration with the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) de Montréal, Centech offers accelerator (business model validation) and propulsion (reducing development and commercialization time) services to technology companies.
In addition to offering business mentoring services, this Quebec biotechnology innovation centre provides laboratories, offices, and a pool of research equipment to life sciences companies.
CTS is an accelerator which offers mentoring and development services to medical technology industry companies.
Espace LABz is a 20,000 sq.ft. centre with private labs, furnished offices, and conferences rooms serving life sciences companies.
This institute offers its academic and industrial partners an unparalleled, vibrant, flexible, transversal, and translational research and innovation ecosystem.
Organizations which represent and support the industry
Quebec can count on several organizations to represent LSHT companies and organize structuring activities for the sector. They pay particular attention to companies’ needs and provide them with a strong network through which they can develop and foster collaborations.
Entirely financed by its members, this provincial association represents the interests of the Quebec biotechnology and life sciences industry.
CATALIS, which is financed by the Quebec government and by its industrial partners, promotes the excellence of Quebec’s clinical research and facilitates collaborations between various life sciences stakeholders to accelerate the development of new treatments.
Investissement Québec International offers a full range of services to life sciences companies to support their expansion plans. In addition to guiding and assisting them in establishing their business in Quebec, the organization can offer them customized financial solutions.
Montréal International is the Greater Montréal economic promotion agency. The life sciences and health technologies sectors are among the core industries it features to attract investment to the region.
Montréal InVivo works with stakeholders in the Greater Montréal area to foster the growth and competitiveness of the life sciences and health technologies sector. Its primary financing source is public funds, but it also obtains financing from private sources.
Québec VITAE (Québec International)
Financed by the Quebec government, Québec Vitae is a cluster dedicated to developing the life sciences and health technologies industry in the Québec City area.
Sherbrooke Innopole is the economic development organization for the city of Sherbrooke’s industrial and tertiary services industries. It contains several large life sciences and health technologies companies.