Canada has always been a strong leader in biotechnology. From the discovery of insulin in 1922 to the genetic sequencing of the SARS virus, the first test flight of a jet using biofuel and the development of a potential Ebola vaccine, our discoveries and innovations in agriculture, environmental remediation, industrial applications and healthcare have benefited people at home and around the globe. Canada will continue to evolve as a global biotechnology leader as it transitions traditional industries into the bioeconomy and draws on its strengths in biomedical research, a world-class regulatory system, a highly skilled and educated workforce and its strong business economy that boasts the lowest business operating costs among G7 countries.

As a result of its history of scientific discovery and innovation, Canada is home to a strong network of biotech hubs in every region of the country. At the centre of those hubs are world class universities, hospitals and research institutions. These combine with a national network of incubators and accelerators, and hundreds of small start-up companies helping to draw biotechnology research into the development of innovative products.

Market Facts

  • Discovery of Stem Cells: Canadians James Till and Ernest McCulloch are recognized as the fathers of stem cell science for their ground breaking work in the early 1960s at the Ontario Cancer Institute at Princess Margaret Hospital. The foundations they laid continue to be built with the work of the Canadian Centre for Regenerative Medicine and its industry and academic partners in Toronto.
  • Discovery of Insulin: In 1922, Canadians Dr. Frederick Banting and Dr. Charles Best discovered insulin and the development of large-scale production techniques. Banting was awarded the Nobel Prize for his discovery in 1923.


BIOTECanada is the national industry association with over 200 members located nation wide, reflecting the diverse nature of Canada’s health, industrial and agricultural biotechnology sectors. In addition to providing significant health benefits for Canadians, the biotechnology industry has quickly become an essential part of the transformation of many traditional cornerstones of the Canadian economy including manufacturing, automotive, energy, aerospace and forestry industries.

Association’s resources

  • The Science of Amazing Canada’s Biotech Ecosystem

    BIOTECanada’s report on the opportunities and challenges facing Canada’s biotechnology industry.

    See Publication