New life sciences investment helps build stronger B.C.

MORE British Columbians and people around the world will benefit from the life-changing work of B.C.’s world-renowned life sciences sector thanks to a significant investment in health research, the Province said on Wednesday.

As announced in Budget 2022 and aligned with the StrongerBC Economic Plan commitment to position the province as a hub for life sciences and biomanufacturing, the Province is providing nearly $195 million in grant funding to Michael Smith Health Research BC (Health Research BC) and Genome BC.

“B.C. has so much to be proud of as we come through the last two years of the pandemic as a global leader in new health technologies, treatments and vaccines,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. “This new funding is a significant step to establishing a life sciences hub to support the sector’s growth and diversification and to anchor B.C. as a worldwide leader and developer of new talent, research capacity and life-changing innovation. Life sciences is a powerful sector that touches every part of our lives – from health to the environment to food security, natural resources and more. This is what our economic plan is all about – it’s about building a strong, sustainable province that works for everyone.”

The Province is investing $116.6 million in funding to Health Research BC and another $78 million to Genome BC. These grants will support research in health, agriculture, clean technology and climate change, while also strengthening B.C.’s pandemic and emergency preparedness. The grants will also help attract, develop and retain research talent and support job creation and health research employment and training in B.C.

“B.C.’s life sciences research and companies continue to receive international recognition for playing a key role in the development of new technologies and treatments,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “By expanding our investments here at home, we are ensuring our public health experts continue to receive world-class research to protect the health and safety of British Columbians while guaranteeing B.C. remains a global leader in research and innovation.”

Throughout the pandemic, B.C.’s life sciences research sector and businesses earned international recognition for their roles in developing new technologies, treatments and vaccines now used around the world. Virtually every COVID-19 vaccine candidate that reached late-stage development in 2020 used components developed or manufactured by a B.C. scientist or company.

“B.C. is in a stronger position to realize improved health through research thanks to a provincial budget that includes support for life sciences,” said Dr. Bev Holmes, President and CEO, Health Research BC. “We thank the provincial government for its continued support of Michael Smith Health Research BC and for recognizing that a healthy society and a healthy economy go hand in hand. This funding will help grow the knowledge economy and health research recovery as it will be used to attract, develop, support and retain people whose research improves the health of British Columbians, addresses health system priorities and creates jobs.”

As outlined as a key new action in the StrongerBC Economic Plan, B.C. will launch a Life Sciences and Biomanufacturing Strategy to position the province as a worldwide life sciences hub by nurturing new talent, developing new lab space, leveraging the research capacities of B.C.’s post-secondary sector and supporting employment across the sector.

“Thanks to the support of the provincial government, genomics will continue to support the rapid growth of B.C.’s life sciences sector,” said Dr. Pascal Spothelfer, President and CEO, Genome BC. “This investment will help impact change in healthcare, climate change, food security and beyond. With these funds, we will continue to support cutting-edge research and innovation, support future researchers, and demonstrate the relevance and value of genomics in delivering significant societal, environmental and economic benefits for the province.”


Quick Facts:

  • B.C. is home to the fastest-growing life sciences sector in Canada with more than 2,000 companies employing 18,000 British Columbians working on innovations and research to improve health-care delivery around the world.
  • Made-in-B.C. life sciences products include rapid diagnostic tests for diseases such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis C and Ebola; protein therapeutics for treating cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases; and the first FDA-approved oral medication for treating adult patients with active lupus nephritis.
  • B.C. is home to Canada’s largest biotech company, STEMCELL Technologies; Canada’s largest medical device company, Starfish Medical; and Canada’s three largest biotech companies, AbCellera Biologics, Aurinia Pharmaceuticals, and Zymeworks Inc.