Montreal, QC – “Financing is still the order of the day for Quebec’s biotech and life science industries. Although a certain degree of progress in the situation can be noted with the arrival of some new investors in the Province of Quebec, it still remains imperative that a solution be promptly found for small capitalization financing needs,” says BIOQuebec’s new president, Patrick Montpetit, who is also the vice-president, finance of Bioniche, upon the release of BIOQuebec’s annual survey on the state of the biotechnology and life science industries.
This fourth edition of the BIOQuebec survey reveals that the cash balance of the sector’s companies is improving. Hence, 64% of the companies questioned report a cash balance of over $2 million, compared to only 44% of them last year. The rounds of financing are also higher, as many of the companies’ drugs and products are making substantial clinical progress and attracting individual investments exceeding $15 million, since the beginning of the year.
On the job creation front, “Over the past two years, the job creation rate has increased in our sector,” says Perry Niro, executive director of BIOQuebec. “We have gone from a 6% growth rate last year to nearly 10% this year, with the creation of more than 450 new jobs.” The survey reveals that 43% of the companies are planning to recruit researchers, while 38% of them are looking for specialized technicians.
This year, the survey also uncovers the fact that 64% of the companies questioned have entered into at least one collaboration agreement with a pharmaceutical company. “Biotech/pharma alliances have become a key element in the growth of Quebec companies. The recent example of Montreal-based Ambrilia teaming up with Merck clearly demonstrates, on the one hand, the scientific value of the projects being developed by our companies, while on the other hand, it points to the capacity of our managers to bring these joint development projects to fruition,” says Mr Niro.
For the first time, BIOQuebec sought to survey the concerns of contract research companies, who are responsible for the clinical trials of new drugs. The contract research industry employs more than 4,000 highly qualified people in Quebec and 64% of its activities are conducted for clients from outside Quebec. According to Mr Niro, “the local life science industry represents 36% of the market of contract research companies. It’s thus quite normal that the survey would tell us that this industry is concerned about the financial stability of their local customers – the biotechnology industry – of whom 45% spend more than a million dollars annually on clinical trials.” Contract research companies also pointed to a major concern of theirs regarding the recruitment of qualified manpower.
The survey was conducted between June and August 2006 with 58 companies employing some 4,700 people. The information was collected via a secure website in order to preserve the confidential nature of some of the data collected.