Did you know that Ontario’s life sciences sector is one of the top clusters in North America? Ontario ranks as one of the three most significant life sciences jurisdictions by number of establishments, and among the top 10 by number of workers.
Conservative estimates put annual revenues for Ontario’s life sciences sector at $40.5 billion – directly contributing $21.6 billion to our province’s GDP. The sector’s job growth since 2001 is 25.1 per cent, outpacing the provincial average of 15.9 per cent. And, these jobs are higher paid: 26.5 per cent higher than the provincial average, in fact.
If these figures aren’t widely known, it’s because our sector has traditionally had little in the way of bench-marking, and, by that token, no real way to measure its success. Last year, Life Sciences Ontario undertook an industry-first study – our 2015 Life Sciences Sector Report – which helped quantify Ontario’s achievements and verify that our province is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to innovation in biotech, pharmaceuticals, medical technologies, and the agri-food industry.
The superheroes of our sector are the companies and organizations across Ontario creating the innovations that will
secure our health and economic prosperity for generations to come – both within Canada and on a global scale. Who are they? What are their stories? Why aren’t they household names – or at least better known than they are, currently?
I believe part of the problem is this: science typically takes a back seat in popular culture. Researchers toil behind the
scenes, working in labs, rarely seen or recognized. The other part of this disconnect seems to be a healthy (or perhaps unhealthy) dose of Canadian modesty.
But consider this list: Insulin. T-Cell receptors. Stem cells. Safer heart surgeries. These are made-in-Ontario innovations with massive global reach.
Their achievements are vast, and too many to list here, but here are some key innovations happening in Ontario’s life sciences sector as we speak:
• Ottawa company eSight has developed mind-blowing digital eyewear that allows the legally blind to see
• Synaptive Medical’s “neural GPS” is helping surgeons reduce risk and better navigate the brain in 3D; this technology is now in use in hospitals as far away as Pakistan
• Profound Medical’s unique, less-invasive cancer therapy is improving outcomes for prostate cancer patients
• Guelph biotech company PlantForm is using tobacco plants to produce low-cost treatments for cancer and HIV/AIDS
• Toronto company Xagenic has developed a game changing device for diagnostics, with a handheld, lab-free tool that delivers results in only 20 minutes
And this is only a short list. Everywhere we look, Ontario companies are pushing boundaries to create world-changing technologies.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently stated that Canada is widely recognized for its resources, but we should be also known for our resourcefulness.
So, let’s get loud about our Ontario innovations.
If you’re an Ontario innovator, stand up and be counted. We will amplify your voice. Tweet us with the hashtag #OntarioInnovation, make yourself at home in the Ontario Pavilion, and join us at our international networking event.
And, if you’re an investor, there’s never been a better time to partner with Ontario’s world-class life sciences sector.
About the Author & Life Sciences Ontario
Dr. Jason Field is the President & CEO of Life Sciences Ontario, a member-driven organization that represents and promotes the province’s vibrant and diverse life sciences sector. LSO collaborates with governments, academia, industry, and other life science organizations in Ontario and across Canada to promote and encourage commercial success throughout this diverse sector.
Membership in Life Sciences Ontario includes individuals, students, emerging companies, investors, service providers, and companies with marketed products. The organization provides a wide range of networking and educational events, and operates a vibrant mentorship program that is helping to develop highly-skilled talent and build new business opportunities for the life sciences sector. LSO is an effective conduit for delivering policy options to governments, and is dedicated to promoting Ontario’s life sciences sector internationally.