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Regional Spotlight: Prince Edward Island

: Aerial view of Charlottetown, PEI, Canada.
News Type
Insights
By
Invest in Canada
Date

Prince Edward Island (PEI), a beautiful maritime province, is known for its picturesque landscapes and rich cultural heritage. It boasts a strategic location, welcoming business environment, and offers unique opportunities for investments in sectors such as agribusiness, clean technology, and aerospace. PEI is also home to a well-established bioscience cluster and serves as a hub for the research, development, and commercialization of human, animal, and fish health products, with a particular focus in bio-fermentation and natural product chemistry. As PEI continues to evolve and grow, it remains well positioned to make a significant contribution to Canada's future economic landscape.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) Attraction 

Using its size to its advantage, PEI is able to quickly advance projects, presenting big opportunities for FDI offering a range of advantages that attract global investors:

  • A strategic geographic location providing easy access to key markets in North America and beyond making it an appealing investment destination for international businesses;
  • A supportive business climate with a focus on innovation, including incentive programs and access to research and development resources and experts in emerging industries;
  • A skilled workforce with expertise across various sectors, including agribusiness, technology, and life sciences, providing businesses with the talent they need for success;
  • A 53% growth in bioscience employment, and the #1 highest per capita concentration of biologists, chemists, veterinarians, and biological and chemical technicians–leading the country
  • An expanding technology sector particularly in areas such as clean tech, bioscience and information technology providing investors with access to cutting-edge opportunities and future-oriented industries;
  • All levels of government are committed to business success, demonstrated by investments in key pieces of infrastructure for industry growth.

One such commitment took place in 2023. Representing a $50 million dollar investment made by the federal and provincial governments, the PEI BIoAccelerator is a new 75,000 sq. ft. biomanufacturing facility to be located in Charlottetown. Once completed in 2025, it will include wet lab suites, pilot plant space, manufacturing suites, and National Research Council expertise in atypical fermentation.

 

“Prince Edward Island is a perfect match for global companies looking to innovate and expand their operations. The province has demonstrated leadership in agribusiness, technology, and life sciences, to go with its strategic location and fantastic quality of life. Our team at Invest in Canada is proud to showcase PEI’s diverse strengths and we look forward to continue facilitating business expansion in the province.”

Laurel Broten, CEO of Invest in Canada.

 

FDI in action: Sekisui and Elanco

Researcher conducting laboratory work.

Researcher conducting laboratory work.

 

Headquartered in Japan, Sekisui is a global leader in manufacturing and developing in-vitro diagnostics products. The company focuses on providing general and specialty clinical chemistry reagents to diagnostic manufacturers and clinical laboratories worldwide. Leveraging PEI’s rich talent pool and technical expertise, Sekisui made the strategic decision to acquire an existing bioscience company in Charlottetown, which produces 1.5 billion clinical chemistry tests annually. These tests are then shipped globally. Since acquiring the site in 2011, the company has completed six expansions and added 50 new jobs, and has maintained a loyal workforce, with one employee having worked there for over 43 years.

 

“Sekisui chose Prince Edward Island for this investment for the cost competitiveness of our workforce, our strategical placement to be able to ship by land or air into our North American market, and to be able to ship by air or sea into our European market.”​

Eugene Howatt, Plant Manager, Sekisui Diagnostics

 

Turning to animal health, Indiana-based, Elanco, a pharmaceutical giant, sold its PEI operation, a key part of the province’s life science cluster, to Merck & Co in February 2024 for $1.3 billion USD, marking the largest acquisition in PEI’s history and third largest foreign acquisition in Atlantic Canada’s history. Merck acquired a suite of vaccines for warm water fish as well as DNA vaccine technology that can serve as a platform for creating new fish vaccines. Elanco’s aquaculture pharmaceutical business unit, which began as one of the first life sciences startups of the province in the 1980s, employs over 140 people on the island and generated $175 million in revenue last year.

These investments underscores PEI’s unique appeal as a hub for cutting-edge research and development in the bioscience sector.

 

“Prince Edward Island’s Bioscience Cluster is a unique business-focused ecosystem that specializes in accelerating early-stage companies to commercial success. As a national centre of expertise in biomanufacturing and natural product chemistry, the Cluster is a magnet for companies developing human, animal, and fish health products from biologics including mRNA vaccines, to diagnostics, personal care products and drug development technologies.”

Rory Francis, Executive Director, Prince Edward Island BioAlliance.

 

About Prince Edward Island

View of the Confederation Bridge from PEI.

Confederation Bridge linking New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island.

 

Prince Edward Island, one of Canada’s four Atlantic provinces, is known for its coastal beauty, close-knit community, and integral role in Canada’s political, cultural, and economic landscape. It has a steadily growing population of approximately 176,160, and its capital, Charlottetown, serves as a vibrant cultural and economic hub. Despite its modest size, the province boasted the highest population growth in Canada in 2021.

Situated in the Atlantic time zone, PEI enjoys an overlapping workday with the US and Europe providing strategic opportunities for international businesses.

The Prince Edward Island bioscience cluster is a prime location for companies involved in research development and commercialization of human, animal and fish health products, with a particular emphasis on bio-fermentation and natural product chemistry. PEI leads Canada in life sciences employment as a share of total employment, with 2,300 people working in the province. PEI also boasts a strong talent pool in biology, chemistry, and veterinary medicine making it a hub for pharmaceutical and agricultural research.

 

“Prince Edward Island’s strategic location on the East Coast of Canada and our supportive and connected business community allows businesses of all sizes, across all sectors, to expand their reach and access global markets. Prince Edward Island is a beautiful place to live, offering a balanced, high-value lifestyle and many opportunities for business success.”

Brad Colwill, CEO, Innovation PEI.

 

Partner Spotlight 

Innovation PEI is Prince Edward Island’s leading economic development agency. Their goal is to build a vibrant, diverse and growing Prince Edward Island economy by providing funding and expertise to enable strategic sectors, accelerate entrepreneurship, and foster innovation. Innovation PEI upholds the mandate of expanding Prince Edward Island’s exports, creating jobs, and promoting overall economic growth and prosperity by encouraging business investment, development and sales in key economic sectors.

The PEI BioAlliance is a private sector-led not-for-profit organization dedicated to building the bioscience industry on Prince Edward Island. By working collaboratively with their partners, they have created a unique environment that promotes excellence in research and provides strong leadership and business support to companies at all stages. They enthusiastically and actively work to develop relationships with industry players from around the world who want to work within a collaborative bioscience business ecosystem.

Logos for Innovation PEI and PEI BioAlliance.