The bioscience sector in Manitoba is flourishing and the world needs to know.
“Manitobans aren’t known for bragging. Biosciences in this province contributes to the global economy and we need to get the word out,” says Kim Kline, President of Bioscience Association Manitoba (BAM).
Also known as life sciences, this sector is a large contributor to the economy. According to BAM, it generates more than $10.4 billion in revenue and $5.6 billion toward the provincial GDP of Manitoba.
“It’s an extremely important industry for Manitoba and it's kind of unknown how strong the ecosystem is within the province. We're one of the top five sectors here and a lot of people don't really know that,” says Kline.
Medicaments, or general medicines, are a key part of the bioscience sector and is Manitoba’s top export. We are the second largest province for pharmaceutical manufacturing. Key players include Emergent Biosolutions, Bausch Health, International Vitamin Corporation, Vita Health and Pfizer.
What is bioscience?
Bioscience is a scientific study dealing with all living things. Bio Health, Ag Biotech and Clean Biotech are the three subsectors within the industry in Manitoba.
“When we talk about bioscience, many people assume it refers only to human health. It’s actually an umbrella that encompasses human, animal and plant science - and that's huge,” says Kline.
“Bioscience includes research, clinical trials and product development in everything from pharmaceuticals, food and plant sciences to agricultural biotech. But many don't realize it also includes digital agriculture and new applications for clean energy in manufacturing.”
Manitoba is a 'pipeline of possibilities'
Bioscience companies are drawn to our province because of its central location, affordable renewable energy, competitive tax credits and highly qualified personnel. The sector employed more than 16,000 Manitobans as of December 2020 and this number is growing.
The local ecosystem includes companies such as Cerebra Health, Cytophage, Farmers Edge, Delta 9 Bio-Tech, MSPrebiotic, The Winning Combination, and Precision ADM to name a few.
Developing talent is an important factor in the sector’s success and Manitoba’s post-secondary institutions nurture future leaders. University of Manitoba, The University of Winnipeg and Red River College Polytech have diverse programs that span research, technology and more. Many of the companies within the community rely heavily on the local graduates to fill the workforce pipeline.
The province’s research community is another integral part of the bioscience industry, and the community in Manitoba is thriving.
“There are tremendous researchers doing important work here. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of them were able to shift focus to learn about the virus, its impacts and possible solutions,” states Judi Bahl, Business & Development Manager at BAM. “One of those groundbreaking researchers is Dr. Ryan Zarychanski and his research on blood thinners in COVID-19 patients.”
Another example, Dr. Meghan Azad—nationally recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 of 2021—for her research which focuses on how children’s experiences in the womb and during infancy affect lifelong health. There’s also Dr. Magdy Younes, inventor of the Winnipeg Ventilator, who is part of the scientific advisory board for Cerebra Health and is transforming sleep diagnostics globally. Their research are only some examples of the thousands we have in the city.
We have world-class research centers including the Canadian Science Centre for Human and Animal Health also known as the National Microbiology Lab (the only level 4 bio-containment lab in Canada), the Chronic Disease Innovation Centre and the Canadian Centre for Agri-food Research in Health and Medicine that all call Manitoba home.
“Much of this research can lead to more spin off companies in Manitoba. They become part of the ecosystem, generating jobs and revenue for the province,” says Bahl.
"Research Manitoba is a key cog. It is the provincial funding agency for much of the research in Manitoba and it has a broad mandate. In addition to funding for health, there are opportunities in agriculture, infrastructure, advanced manufacturing and social sciences.”
Bioscience Association Manitoba: Connecting the community locally and globally
BAM works hard to raise the profile of bioscience in Manitoba, nationally and around the world. It helps connect and grow the sector.
The association creates public awareness and outreach to spread the word about the amazing work in the bioscience sector. It provides support to businesses to thrive, create more jobs and ultimately improve Manitoba’s economy.
“Come and see what we are doing! We’re too quiet,” said Bahl. “There’s nothing wrong with standing up on chairs and celebrating our work and our potential. Manitoba’s bioscience sector is a pipeline of possibilities.”
You can learn more about bioscience in Manitoba, at the Bioscience Association Manitoba website.