Québec City’s life sciences industry is currently the image of health and one of Canada’s rising economic stars.
It’s a driving force in ahead-of-the-curve research and innovation, which is renowned around the world, in many advanced fields, including vaccines, infectiology, development of new medications, clinical research, neurobiology of language, telehealth and artificial intelligence, functional foods, cardiometabolic diseases, respiratory health, pneumology, oncology, neuroscience and tissue engineering.
And the numbers speak for themselves. The city boasts over 120 companies and more than 80 R&D centres, chairs and research laboratories — all of which have created 9,200 jobs and CAD$1.3bn in sales.
“Québec City has truly made its mark in the world’s life sciences industry thanks to several key factors,” explained Carl Viel, President and CEO of Québec International, a leading economic development agency.
“For one, the city is focused on health research. Université Laval is one of the top ten research universities in Canada and, along with the burgeoning number of research chairs, partner chairs, research centres and institutes, over CAD$357m has been awarded in grants and contracts in the past three years alone.”
Québec City has also taken great strides in matching the researchers and entrepreneurs together to co-create commercially viable products. “A lot of this life-changing research is actually transformed into commercial products, which means each year, new start-ups sprout in cutting-edge sectors and viable niche markets. Crossing the chasm from pure and applied research to marketable solutions is truly unique to Québec City,” added Viel.
This strong regional synergy has become Québec City’s springboard to hosting internationally renowned conventions and conferences in highly specialised fields. “Québec City’s unprecedented innovations in many diverse sectors, whether through research or the development of market-ready solutions to tackle the world’s pressing health challenges, have enabled the city to attract large-scale events,” explained Ann Cantin, Director of Communications and Marketing at the Québec City Convention Centre and Québec City Business Destination.
“Québec City’s economic, educational and research stakeholders have teamed up with not only the public sector but also the local event industry to develop a proven approach to winning major international event bids.”
Ms Cantin points to the Québec City Ambassadors’ Club, which was created specifically to pool local resources, including professors, researchers and business people to become ambassadors, which then leverage their networks of contacts to convince decision-makers of different organisations and associations to choose Québec City for their events. “The Québec City Ambassadors’ Club has been instrumental in drawing in events from the life sciences industry,” Cantin added.
Some cases in point? The 13th Annual International CRISPR Congress and 16th Forum on Back and Neck Pain Research in primary care, which will be held in 2019. In 2020, the Society for Molecular Biology & Evolution (SMBE) Annual Conference will take place. And, in 2021, the 23rd International Symposium on Fluorine Chemistry and 9th International Symposium on Fluorous Technologies will head to Québec City for its six-day symposium.
Québec City’s life sciences industry is showing no signs in slowing down. Its life sciences ecosystem is currently benefitting from massive investments, both in the public and private sectors. For example, over CAD$357m has been awarded in research grants and contracts in just three years. Another CAD$331m has been privately invested to build a new vaccination production plant. CAD$2bn has been publicly injected for the construction of a new hospital complex for the CHU de Québec, the province’s biggest university hospital.
“Significant investments like these definitely show Québec City’s life sciences stronghold and strengthens the city’s appeal for international events,” Cantin said. “The industry’s vitality and cohesiveness are the perfect backdrop for event attendees to learn about local innovations, enjoyrelevant and engaging content, and benefit from networking opportunities.”
“I think that the secret ingredient of Québec City’s life sciences and healthcare technology industry is thanks in great part to quality research and innovation partnered with ambitious entrepreneurs who can take that innovative research and expertise — and make both available to people around the world to improve their daily lives,” concluded Viel.