Toronto is home to North America's largest combined life sciences sector and is ranked as one of the top 10 bio-medical sectors in the world. The sector employs more than 160,000 people in over 800 companies (Canadian Trade Commissioner Service, 2014).
The growth of the life sciences sector has been dramatic in recent years, and all indicators suggest that the rapid pace will continue as an additional $750 million has been invested toward the development of new infrastructure.
Toronto's life sciences cluster is comprised of institutions and businesses from the pharmaceutical, medical research, biotechnology, medical devices, medical surgical supply and medical assistive technologies industries.
There are more biotech companies per capita in Canada than any other country in the world; 50% of Canada's life sciences companies are located in Toronto.
Firms choosing to do research and development (R&D) in the Toronto region benefit from an average cost advantage over the US of 12.9%. Federal and provincial government grants and public sector incentive programs can reduce R&D costs by up to 60%.
Toronto's growing reputation for excellence in life sciences research has attracted major private and public R&D investment, including $1 billion from pharmaceutical companies for advanced drug development and $347 million over five years from the Government of Ontario for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR). Projects like the OICR are made possible by the continued support from the provincial government, private enterprises and talented researchers.
Toronto's Discovery District
Toronto's Discovery District is Canada's largest concentration of research institutes, business incubators and business support services. The Discovery District is the most densely occupied geographic centre for research in the world. The network of 22,000 medical-related professionals, including 9,000 principal researchers and technicians, is housed within 37 research institutes and nine teaching hospitals. These researchers have a global reputation for medical and technological breakthroughs in areas such as breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's and cystic fibrosis research.
Recent Major Infrastructure Investments
- The Hospital for Sick Children opened a 21-storey research tower in the Discovery District in 2013. The $400 million building houses their research institute's 2,000 scientists and staff.
- MaRS II is a $500 million capital expansion to MaRS, doubling the size of the existing facilities in 2013.
- Sunnybrook Health Research Centre is expanding its medical research institute at a cost of $200 million.
- Toronto Western Hospital opened the $165 million Krembil Discovery Centre in 2013, a nine-storey, 325,000 ft2 facility dedicated to research.
- York University has begun construction on its new $70 million life sciences centre. The 160,000 ft2 building will include classrooms, laboratories and research space to support increased enrollments in the science and health related disciplines.
- Sanofi Pasteur opened a $100 million expansion of its R&D facilities, adding approximately 165,000 ft2 to the company's Connaught Campus. In total, Sanofi Pasteur has invested over $600 million in new manufacturing, research and distribution facilities in Toronto since 2000.
- The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is planning a $250 million campus development devoted to research and treatment of central nervous system disorders.
- St. Michael's Hospital has a $20 million plan to expand its research and health education facilities.
Top of page
Beyond borders: Global biotechnology report
The annual report analyzes key indicators of the industry’s performance: financing activity, deal trends, financial results, pipeline strength and product approvals.
Bio-Medical Sector and Initiatives
Report on Toronto's Bio-medical Sectors.
Every Day we ask ourselves what if? Collaborate and Discover: Ontario's Biopharma Cluster
Overview report of the biopharama sector focuses on collaboration and discovery in the Toronto region.
Funding Programs, Awards and Prizes Available to Ontario Life Science Companies
Document is a compilation of federal and provincial funding sources, both private and public that apply to companies in the Life Science Sector.
Marketing Innovative Drugs in Canada: Regulatory and IP Considerations
Introduction to the regulation and IP issues related to marketing innovative drugs in Canada
Obtaining Patent Protection in Canada
Introduction to the Canadian patent system.
Green Energy, ICT (Information and Communications Technology), Life Science, Talent
Ontario's Life Sciences Commercialization Strategy
Report sheds light on the growing opportunity in the global life sciences sector and highlight's Ontario's competitive advantage. Includes snapshots of pharmaceutical, medical and assistive devices, and biotech sectors , government incentives and funding programs.
Toronto's Discovery District: Innovation, Technology, & Business
A look at the research and development that takes place in Canada's largest research park, the Toronto Discovery District