FDI brings new vitality to Canada’s life sciences sector

scientists in lab

Canada enjoys a long history of innovation in life sciences.

Canadian surgeon Dr. Frederick Banting and medical student Charles Best famously discovered insulin in a lab at the University of Toronto in 1921. Canadian veterinary pathologist Frank Schofield's work led to the development of the world's first blood thinner. Canadian labs even contributed to the development of vaccines against polio and Ebola.

Today, Canada remains at the forefront in the advancement of human health. Canadian life sciences include research, development and manufacturing of medical devices, diagnostics, natural health products, and pharmaceuticals and biopharmaceuticals such as vaccines.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) is helping to build a thriving life sciences industry that includes world-class research institutions, business incubators and healthcare institutions.

Real impacts for Canadians

Since 2017, close to $5 billion in new life sciences investments have poured into the country. These new investments have fortified a sector that provides roughly 200,000 Canadians across 12,000 companies with key, well-paying jobs.

The sector continues to grow year over year.  FDI investment announcements in 2021 alone are projected to create more than 1,500 new jobs.

These commitments include the likes of Swiss biotech giant Roche’s $500 million investment in its Global Pharma Technical Operations site in Mississauga and Italy-based Delmar Chemicals’ $45 million investment in Montreal for the creation of a centre of excellence to produce active pharmaceutical ingredients.

It also includes France-based pharmaceutical company Sanofi’s $925 million investment to build a new vaccine facility in Toronto – alongside the very same site where Canadians contributed to the eradication of polio generations ago.

Investments for the long term

These kinds of investment speak to the lasting impact FDI can have. When investing in Canada, global firms do not simply create jobs, they also introduce new technologies and inject knowledge that help build innovation ecosystems and hubs for R&D.

Fuelled by FDI, the pharmaceutical industry is supporting the creation and development of thriving research ecosystems – including the Prince Edward Island Bioscience Cluster, the Montreal Clinical Research Institute, the Mississauga Life Sciences Cluster, Innovate Calgary’s Life Sciences Innovation Hub and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.

Canadian communities across the country rely on the innovation, new ideas and advanced technologies that these hubs generate.

A rich legacy and a promising future

Canadians should be proud of the many contributions their country has made to advancing and protecting human health.  

On the global stage, attracting FDI will remain critical to maintaining Canada's position in this forward-looking industry, ensuring that the next generation of Canadian scientists, innovators and healthcare workers can step up to help solve the next global challenge.

Learn more about life sciences.