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How Atlantic Canada is Impacting the Biotech Sector

For anyone in the biotechnology industry, exploring the trade show floor at the annual BIO International Convention is like being a kid in a candy store. Imagine a room as long as two football fields lined with endless rows of booths made of billboards and screens, each representing a pharmaceutical company or a region of the world in which to do business or create partnerships.

biotechnologyThe conventions boasts over 15,000 attendees, dozens of educational tracks, thousands of exhibitors spread out across three halls, the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies on hand, and thousands of C-suite executives in attendance. If you are a researcher or company working in life sciences, this is the premier event for you.

So, what were 10 New Brunswick representatives (commercial and non-profit) hoping to achieve in San Francisco this year? A lot.

New Brunswick: Making an Impact

A strength of BioNB is its focus on increasing the research, development and commercialization capacity of New Brunswick — continued growth in our bioscience sector offers great potential for economic development. The sector—which includes life science, medical technology, and health ICT—has demonstrated noteworthy growth over the last five years with new companies, more jobs, and innovative ways to use our many natural resources to their full potential.

New Brunswick was part of a coordinated Atlantic Canada presence at BIO 2016, which has long been a priority of government and industry associations like BioNB. Through the International Business Development Agreement (IBDA)—which receives funding from the four Atlantic provinces and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)—Atlantic Canada organizations looking to attend are supported with a place on the trade show floor, concierge service, networking events, and a host of promotional materials.

New Brunswick companies can often access export development assistance to cover some of their travel expenses through organizations such as Opportunities NB (ONB).

This year’s strong BIO contingent consisted of groups like:

  • Mycodev Group Inc. – A young startup focused on bringing to market a versatile pharmaceutical ingredient called chitosan;
  • Soricimed Biopharma Inc. – A drug and diagnostic company that recently completed testing of a cancer drug that uses the saliva of shrews; and,
  • The Atlantic Cancer Research Institute (ACRI) – Headed by Dr. Rodney Ouellette, the ACRI is a non-profit that has become an innovative hub for cancer research in Canada.

Representatives of Vitalité Health Network, the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation (NBHRF) and the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training (NB-IRDT) at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) were also in attendance.

BIO 2016 provided New Brunswick with a stage upon which to highlight its many clinical trials activities, promote itself as the region for health research, and showcase its growing cluster of life science companies. New Brunswick’s Health and Life Science industry is vibrant and growing. Over the years the industry has developed key strengths in areas such as health ICT, nursing, population health, biomedical engineering and cancer genetics/genomics.

There are currently more than 50 firms active in the Health/Life Science sector in New Brunswick. Many of these companies are benefiting from New Brunswick’s strengths in ICT. Advances in big data analytics for example now set the stage for a real bioscience/ICT opportunity where health and resource sectors can employ ICT platforms in order to innovate.

The messaging at BIO touched on the exciting place the biotech industry holds in addressing global challenges in health, agriculture and environment. With both established and up-and-coming companies in New Brunswick making great strides towards addressing some of these challenges we’re excited to see where it all leads.

David Brown - Mycodev GroupNew Brunswick is a good location for biotech in Canada. Most of our initial clients are in the New England area; Massachusetts is a notable biotech hub. There are a number of medical and pharma companies there so being in New Brunswick works well for us simply from a logistics perspective.” — David Brown, Co-Founder and CTO, Mycodev Group Inc.

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Pavilion image via BioNB