This story is part of the life sciences sector series.
To learn more about export opportunities for companies in this sector, please also read Exporting key to success for Canada’s life science’s sector.
Life Sciences Ontario (LSO) is the industry voice for the province’s life sciences sector. ExportWise sat down with LSO’s President and CEO, Dr. Jason Field, who provided key insights on the sector.
What are the major opportunities and challenges impacting Canada’s life sciences sector?
The opportunity is enormous. Just two biotech companies in the U.S., Amgen and Gilead, have a market cap greater than the entire Canadian mining sector listed on the TSX (1,300 companies). The biggest challenge for growing companies is accessing risk capital.
How many Canadian companies would be in that sweet spot of $50 million in revenues and 150 to 200 employees?
Our sector report shows that only about four per cent of Ontario life sciences companies employ more than 100 people.
What are the characteristics of successful of life sciences companies?
The successful ones have great science, disruptive and / or innovative technology, and a good leadership team. They are well-financed and have a clear path to market.
Please help us understand the role of exporting to Canada’s life sciences sector.
Exporting is very important to Canadian life sciences companies. The Canadian market is relatively small on the global scale, so companies must have access to global markets.
Are supply chains significant in this sector? If so, how can a Canadian company get into a life sciences supply chain?
Life sciences is a diverse sector, so the supply chains vary significantly. But in general, yes, supply chains are important. The best way to access supply chains is through partnerships.
Do you have any advice for small and medium enterprises in this sector?
Accessing growth capital in Canada is difficult. Be sure to seek advice and mentorship from successful Canadian entrepreneurs who have been there and done it. It’s easy to become inwardly focused, but you need to be engaged in the local life sciences community — they will support you in return.
What’s in store for Canada’s life sciences sector in the next year or two?
I’m optimistic that we will see Canada’s life sciences sector make big strides in the next few years. We have a wealth of assets and we’re seeing a significant commitment from government to grow the innovation economy. I believe life sciences is poised to have a big impact on Canadian business over the next few years.