Edmonton is a growing leader in health science technology with globally recognized post-secondary institutions and award winning incubators leading the charge.
The biotech industry in Alberta is growing, with approximately 75% of the sector focused on innovative health treatments and products. This includes 38% of companies in the business of creating medical devices and 23% in the business of biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
Just over 60% of firms in the biotech business call Edmonton home, making the city the biotech hub for the province. The pharmaceutical industry is specifically noteworthy as an emerging industry in the city with the entry of large pharmaceutical players such as Gilead, Naeja, McKesson Pharmaceutical and Aurinia Pharmaceuticals Inc.
Overall, the province of Alberta is recognized nationally and internationally for expertise in neurology, diabetes and islet transplantation research, cardiology, cancer research and treatment, bone and joint research and vaccines for infection diseases.
Nanotechnology involves manipulating and controlling atoms and molecules to create useful materials, devices and systems that have new and different properties from what we normally see in our everyday world.
Alberta has had significant success in the commercialization of nanotechnology with leading companies in the areas of circuits/chips, calibration systems and bio-detection as well as nano-biotechnology.
Edmonton plays a large role in the development of nanotechnology in Alberta and is home to The National Institute of Nanotechnology — a joint initiative between the University of Alberta, The National Research Council of Canada and the Government of Alberta. The institute conducts innovative research on nanotechnology solutions with some of the largest and most technologically-advanced nanotechnology facilities in western Canada.
Omics is an emerging field of study in the life sciences industry that analyzes biological molecules on a whole-cell, tissue, organ or organism level.
It includes the detection of genes (genomics), mRNA (transcriptomics), proteins (proteomics) and metabolites (metabolomics) from a patient or animal sample.
Metabolomics Technologies Inc., an Edmonton-based company focused on omics research, is a leading example for molecular diagnostics. Their innovative approach to cancer diagnosis won them the 2014 North American Frost & Sullivan Award.
Another Edmonton-based company, Delta Genomics, specializes in a new innovative process in regards to beef production: they are the first to provide full genomic testing on Canadian cattle. Genomic testing can improve profitability and productivity through an improvement in animal feeding efficiencies. This also has the potential to reduce the environmental impact and greenhouse gas emissions caused by beef production. Furthermore, genomic testing can improve disease resistance in cattle and improve the quality of the end product.
OMx Personal Health Analytics Inc., is an Edmonton startup founded with the goal of providing people with more accurate and detailed information about their health. Using metabolomics technology they have developed a direct to consumer urine test that aims to help people improve and optimize their health by measuring how their diet and lifestyle affect their body.
Other Albertan firms that operate within the omics industry include Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions & Health Solutions, the Metabolomics Innovation Centre, Genome Alberta, National Institute for Nanotechnology, Northern Alberta Clinical Trials and Research Centre and Alberta Centre for Advanced MNT Products.
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT FACILITIES AND FINANCING
TEC Edmonton is one of the leading incubators of innovative companies in the health field. The organization, which is a joint venture between the University of Alberta and the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, created a Health Accelerator initiative with the goal of assisting 50 new health-care company clients over five years, and brokering 12 major financing or partnership deals for those clients.
The Edmonton Research Park (ERP) is Edmonton’s largest centre dedicated to advanced research in medicine, biotechnology and nanotechnology. In operation since 1980, the ERP now hosts more than 1,500 people who work with over 55 companies exploring new ideas for business every day.
In addition, The Government of Alberta offers financing for research and development through the Alberta Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Tax Credit. This program provides a refundable tax credit, of 10% on up to $4 million, to companies carrying out research and development activities.