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Biotechnology and Health Research

Manitoba’s biotechnology and health research sector employs an estimated 4,200 people – concentrated in Winnipeg.

While Manitoba has only 4% of Canada’s population, it is home to 8% of the national biotech activity. A strong entrepreneurial spirit characterizes the industry, with recent start-ups representing more than one-third of existing companies.

The primary focus of the sector is two fold:

  • Pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical R&D and production, including: specialty hyper-immune plasma products and recombinant therapeutic products, sustained release pharmaceuticals, monoclonal antibodies, fermentation, downstream processing and purification
  • Agricultural biotechnology, including: development of crop varieties with improved past resistance and enhanced qualities, cereal and oilseed quality and pathology, cereal genomics, identification and extraction of high value materials from crops

Recent successes and investments in the sector include:

  • Ernst & Young’s Resurgence: Global Biotechnology Report 2004 ranked Manitoba as the fastest growing biotechnology sector in Canada
  • Winnipeg is home to the Public Health Agency of Canada
  • Winnipeg’s Cangene Corporation, a world leader in specialty hyper-immune plasma and biotechnology products, was awarded two contracts by the US Center for Disease Control (CDC) to develop drugs to respond to potential biological attacks
  • National Research Council Institute for Biodiagnostics(IBD)is the most advanced facility in Canada for studying and developing NMR and MRI technologies
  • The Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health is the first and only global centre with level 4 bio-containment capability for the study of human and animal disease
  • The University of Manitoba houses an incubation center for life sciences technology
  • The Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals at Smart park.
  • Construction of a $3 million breast cancer research facility by CancerCare Manitoba
  • I.H. Asper Clinical Research Institute conducts early phase clinical research on diabetes, cardiovascular disease and neurological disorders.
  • Business incubation center to be located at the National Research Centre’s Institute for Biodiagnostics
  • A $45 million expansion of Biovail Corporation’s Steinbach facility, to accommodate the company’s new biopharmaceutical products
  • The Manitoba Centre for Proteomics, which partners with the University of Manitoba’s is an internationally recognized time-of-flight mass spectrometry research group

Winnipeg and Manitoba enjoy a global leadership position in the development of cereal and oilseed crop varieties. The University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences is recognized for the leading role it played in developing canola. The Cereal Research Centre, located at the University, is Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s lead centre for cereal genomics.

Areas of expertise include:

  • cardiovascular and respiratory diseases
  • neurosciences
  • metabolism and nutrition
  • cell biology and gene technology
  • infectious diseases
  • diagnostics
  • contract research

Major Biotechnology and Health Research companies located in Winnipeg:

  • Apotex Fermentation Inc. – www.apoferm.mb.ca
  • Cangene – www.cangene.com
  • Viventia Biotech – www.viventia.com
  • Controlled Environments Ltd. – www.conviron.com
  • Advanta Seeds – www.advantacan.com
  • Monsanto Canada Inc. – www.monsanto.ca

Winnipeg’s competitive strengths:

  • A strong research infrastructure, comprised of a world-class university and government laboratories, and research institutes, complements and supports the sector. Of particular significance are the synergies that the industry is able to achieve between biotechnological research in agricultural and life sciences.
  • The industry benefits from low cost, high-quality agricultural commodities, low occupancy, and operating costs, a generous R&D tax credit program, and a well-educated workforce. An affordable and high quality of life helps attract research talent.
  • Manitoba annually accounts for 15% of Canada’s primary agricultural production. Manitoba’s soils and climatic conditions make it ideally suited for the production of a wide range of crops including cereals, oilseeds, pulses, and horticultural crops.