Biotechnology sector takes international stage

Jun 20, 2003

HALIFAX - The Honourable Gerry Byrne, Minister of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and Stephen Lund, President and CEO of Nova Scotia Business Inc., today announced $235,400 in funding to enable Atlantic Canadian organizations to participate in BIO 2003, from June 22-25, 2003 in Washington, D.C.  Assistance is being provided through the Canada/Atlantic Provinces COOPERATION Agreement on International Business Development (IBDA).

Organizers are calling BIO 2003 (Biotechnology Industry Organization) the largest, most comprehensive conference and exhibition in the history of biotechnology, attracting close to 20,000 biotechnology executives, politicians, scientists, and reporters from more than 20 countries.

The event will take place at the newly opened Washington Convention Centre in a city that is home to the second-largest cluster in ICT and the third-largest cluster in biotechnology in the United States.

ACOA's efforts to help diversify the Atlantic Canadian economy includes a focus on a number of key growth sectors, said Minister Byrne.  The biotechnology sector represents one of those leading international economic sectors, and as such, we need to be where the industry leaders are and to participate where discussions for the future of the industry are being held.

The biotechnology sector employed more than 162,000 worldwide in 2000, up from 79,000 in 1993, while market capitalization for biotechnology firms increased from $39 billion to $353 billion in the same time period.  It is one of the key sectors targeted in the IBDA's trade strategies for Atlantic Canada.

As one of our targeted growth sectors, biotechnology represents a wealth of potential for Nova Scotia's economy, said Mr. Lund, whose organization is coordinating Nova Scotia's participation in BIO 2003. With our universities, tax credits and facilities, we have the key ingredients for a vibrant biotech sector and we need to use opportunities like BIO 2003 to take advantage of that potential.
While Canada as a whole boasts the second largest biotechnology industry in the world, Atlantic Canada's biotechnology sector is diversified, well supported by research and development organizations, and undergoing dramatic growth.  Projections for 2002 forecast an increase in revenues of almost 70 % over 1999.

The major areas of activity in Atlantic Canada's biotechnology industry are as follows: Industrial & Urban Processing; Agriculture, Aquaculture & Horticultural Biotechnology; Pharmaceutical & Biomedical; Instrumentation and Agrifood Biotechnology.

The IBDA is designed to increase exporting in Atlantic Canada by funding projects that help small- and medium-sized companies explore, enter and succeed in international markets. 

First signed in May 1994, the $13-million Agreement involves three federal departments  the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Industry Canada and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade as well as the four Atlantic Canadian provincial governments: Nova Scotia Business Inc., Business New Brunswick, PEI Business Development and the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Trade, Technology and Rural Development.  ACOA provides 70 percent of the funding while the provincial governments provide the remaining 30 percent.