Invest in Ontario - Discover more: life sciences in Ontario

Ontario, Canada, is an innovative jurisdiction where leading-edge medical research converges with international business expertise and advanced manufacturing capabilities to nurture a thriving life sciences industry.


Over 40,000 people are employed in life sciences in the Canadian province of Ontario at more than 850 companies. Revenues top C$15bn a year, with C$5bn of this generated by global exports. The province is also home to global giants such as GE Medical Systems, Genzyme, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Roche and Sanofi Pasteur. It's also where world-leading companies like Apotex, Biovail, MDS and Trudell Medical got their start and continue to thrive.

Ongoing history of discovery

Canada's most populous province has a long history of taking innovative biomedical discoveries and turning them into new products and services that meet patient needs by capitalising on its world-class talent, research capacity, and a collegial and collaborative spirit. Building on an established track record of medical breakthroughs - ranging from discoveries such as the isolation of insulin to the identification of stem cells and the development of the pacemaker - Ontario's 25 research hospitals employ more than 10,000 researchers conducting C$850m of research annually, with multinational pharmaceutical companies investing another C$720m each year.

Ontario's legacy of discovery and its critical mass of ongoing research help explain why the province stands at the forefront of discovery in key areas such as cardiology, oncology, neurology, stem cells, regenerative medicine, imaging, ophthalmology and infectious diseases. It continues to attract top-notch researchers and clinicians from around the world. A recent example is neuroscientist Dr Adrian Owen, who brought his remarkable research programme and research team from Cambridge University in the UK to the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario.

"Multinational pharmaceutical companies invest over C$400m a year in clinical trials in Ontario."

Clinical trials and investigational testing are also an area of strength as a result of Ontario's centrally managed public healthcare system and a large multi-ethnic population of 13 million. Multinational pharmaceutical companies invest over C$400m a year in clinical trials in the province. Recent examples of ground-breaking technologies being commercialised include the first genetic test for blindness, a microchip that detects cancer and the first test to assess skin for sun damage.

Ontario is further improving its clinical trials environment through Clinical Trials Ontario, a new coordinating body that will streamline ethics review processes for industry-sponsored clinical trials across multiple clinical sites. This leads to improved patient recruitment, shortens trial start-up times and makes Ontario a more attractive destination for industry-sponsored clinical trial investments.

A competitive R&D environment

Ontario's R&D tax incentive programme is widely recognised as one of the most generous. When tax credits are factored in, C$100 in R&D expenditures can be reduced to less than C$44 - and less than C$37 for small businesses. A broader range of costs qualify for deductions than in many jurisdictions, and tax credits can be carried back for three years or forward for 20 years.

Personnel and infrastructure

The province's workforce is one of the best educated in the world. In fact, a higher percentage of Ontario's workforce has completed post-secondary education than in any other industrialised country, and its network of 20 universities and 24 colleges produces a steady supply of highly skilled workers, graduating an average of 9,300 students a year in fields such as biotechnology, biochemistry, biology, chemical engineering, chemistry and other related fields.

The life sciences industry in Ontario is clustered in a corridor that includes over 60 publicly funded research facilities, all internationally recognised for their expertise in the specialised fields of research and with an enviable track record of close collaboration with the private sector. To complement this research horsepower, the province has recently launched the Ontario Network of Excellence, an extensive organisation that offers market-driven programmes and services to support Ontario's technology-based businesses and entrepreneurs, and helps them launch and grow innovative ideas and companies.

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Ontario’s success in the life sciences industry is supported by its extensive history in discovery, a sophisticated infrastructure and its talented workforce.
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