Lab Canada

First year report looks good for Quebec’s Biotech City

Laval, QC March 4, 2003 Biotech City in Laval, QC, has received its first annual report card. President and CEO of the Biotech City, Pierre Blanger, last week disclosed the Biotech City’s report following its first full year in operation.

Launched in June 2001, the first few months were dedicated to setting up the development organization and preparing the business plan of the City of Biotechnology of Human Health of Metropolitan Montreal.

“After one successful year in operation, it is clear that the Biotech City was worth creating and that it is assuming an increasingly important place in Quebec’s and Canada’s scientific economy,” he says.

As for investments, just over C$151 million was spent on scientific and research infrastructure, on setting up new companies and on expansion projects of existing companies in the Biotech City.

Private investments have included:

– A $28-million investment in the construction of Shire’s new vaccine research centre, which will support the company’s activities in the field of biologics.

– Establishment of Algorithme Pharma: an $18.5-million investment to set up the clinical research company’s headquarters in a 30,138-square-foot building.

– Establishment of LAB International with an $8-million investment in a 39,987 square-foot building. The company has two wholly owned subsidiaries, LAB Development and LAB Pre-clinical.

– Establishment of biopharmaceutical firm Labopharm in a 48,000-square-foot building: an $11-million investment.

– Expansion of Ethypharm, a French company specialized in galenic: a $5.5-million investment.

– A $25-million investment in the construction of the Biotechnology Development Centre by a consortium comprised of INRS and SOLIM (a division of the Solidarity Fund QFL). The first three tenants will include Supratek, a pharmaceutical research company that develops anti-viral and anti-cancer drugs; Phytobiotech, a biopharmaceutical company whose mission is to discover, develop and commercialize novel, biologically active molecules of plant origin using a technology platform based on plant cell culture biotechnologies; the Quebec Biotechnology Innovation Centre (QBIC), the Biotech City’s incubator with its seven start-ups. The three companies invested $12 million in their facilities.

On the public and institutional side, investments have included $23 million to establish the National Experimental Biology Centre, which will become a leading centre of its kind in Canada, and $20 million for the construction of the Armand-Frappier Bioscience Centre.

“In short, in our first year of operation, we have achieved 60 percent of the investment objectives we had set for the first five years," says Blanger. "This attests to the ability of both Quebec and Canada to carve a place in the field of biotechnologies and human health as well as to the impact of an integrated concept such as the Biotech City."

The Biotech City will strive to create 2,500 specialized jobs during its first five years of operation. According to the report, 566 specialized jobs have so far been created. These new jobs stem primarily from the arrival of new companies and the expansion of those already located in the Biotech City.

“It bears repeating that the Biotech City is not a real estate project," adds Blanger. "It is above all an integrated scientific environment that includes a university, specialized hospital, preclinical and clinical research centres, a business incubator, as well as production and distribution centres.

"Within the confines of the Biotech City, a company can carry out all phases of drug creation from research, proof of concept, preclinical trials, formulation and clinical trials to production and commercialization," he adds.