Life-saving medicines, animal health products, green chemistry, renewable energy, feeding the planet: bioscience and biotechnology have established their place in addressing the big challenges of our society. Since 2003, Canada has celebrated that progress, and in recent years, Australia, Europe and the USA have joined Canada in Global Biotech Week.
Here in Prince Edward Island, the biotech sector has become an important pillar of the province’s growing economy, according to Premier Dennis King. “What excites me when I visit our bioscience companies is the number of young men and women in sophisticated and rewarding jobs, supporting families and growing our communities across PEI,” said King.
In the past decade, the sector has grown from very small beginnings to now include 58 businesses earning over $220 million in export sales and employing over 1800 people. In the past year alone, more than 200 new jobs were added.
Dr. Russ Kerr of Nautilus Croda, and Chair of the Board of the PEI BioAlliance, said that Prince Edward Island has established a national reputation as a province that has achieved very impressive growth in this science-rich business sector. He pointed to the high degree of collaboration and cooperation as a key to success, involving the business community, academic and research partners like UPEI, Holland College and NRC, as well as federal and provincial government agencies, in the innovation cluster. “We’ve seen the value of working together to implement priority initiatives and share risk and rewards,” said Kerr.
Sector growth has also created some pressures, particularly for additional skilled labour and for laboratory and manufacturing facilities to support new and growing businesses. Kerr said that he is very optimistic that initiatives currently under development by the partners will be able to address these challenges and lay the foundation for future growth.