Canada is the second biggest player in the global biotechnology game, second only to the United States. You would be right to guess that Canada would then be the home to a lot of biotechnology companies. Unsurprisingly, as the most populous province in the country, Ontario is home to the vast number of these, mostly in Ottawa and Toronto. But British Columbia also has its own glut of biotech companies, centred mostly around Vancouver. There are also a great number of multinational pharmaceutical giants who have a sizeable presence in Canada, including Pfizer, Novo Nordisk, Novartis, and Eli Lilly.
Canada’s biotechnology companies cover the full spectrum of the biotechnology world, from research to manufacturing. They encompass pharmaceuticals, agriculture, stem cell research, medicine such as cancer treatment, and food technology, to name but a few.
In the field of medicine, Fedora Pharmaceuticals works in the field of research on infectious diseases, while Quest PharmaTech works on many projects, including cancer treatment. Another company, Verisante Technology, is developing systems for the early detection of various forms of cancer. Medical sciences and pharmaceuticals are in fact two enormous areas of tremendous growth in biotechnology, and many companies pursue these fields due to the amount of research funding that is available.
There is perhaps not a single industry that can’t benefit from biotechnology in some way. Although the United States dominates agricultural biotechnology, with companies like Monsanto and Syngenta at the forefront, Canada has had its own success story with oilseeds. The most ubiquitous example is canola oil, which was developed from specially cultivated rapeseed varieties at the University of Manitoba in the 1970s. In 1998 Monsanto introduced a genetically modified version. Currently a Saskatoon company, Linnaeus Plant Sciences Inc., is developing non-food oilseed crops based on castor for the purpose of making oils used in industrial manufacturing.