The PEI BioAlliance has released its 2021-25 Strategic Plan, setting in motion its plan to almost quadruple private sector revenue in the Island’s bioscience cluster to $1 billion within nine years.

Now 16 years old, the BioAlliance is a collaborative organization that harnesses the talents of the private sector, government and academia to develop a thriving bioscience sector on P.E.I.

Within the five-year scope of the current strategic plan, the BioAlliance aims to increase private-sector revenues of its members from $265 million to $500 million by 2025 and increase employment from 2,200 to 3,000. However, the strategic plan also lays out longer-term goals of reaching $1 billion in revenues and 4,500 employees by 2030.

“While our traditional industries have been forced to adopt new technologies to be competitive, those technologies have been, for the most part, developed elsewhere in the world,” says the report. “We have been technology ‘buyers,’ not ‘sellers.’ The bioscience sector has been turning that table.”

The BioAlliance released a statement saying the bioscience cluster is growing at a rate that outpaces any other industry in the province. The cluster now comprises 60 companies and seven research organizations, and has doubled its economic impact since 2016. In 2019, the Island’s bio companies attracted $38 million in new investment and spent more than $100 million on new equipment and facilities.

The goal now is to double the economic impact of the sector in each of the next half-decades.

“We see no reason why we can’t continue to double the economic impact of our bio sector every five years,” said BioAlliance Chair Oliver Technow in the press release. “The global market opportunities that our businesses see in specific areas of human health, animal and fish health, and diagnostics are really incredible.”  

The report highlights that the bio-industries are now the second-largest component of the P.E.I. economy, exceeded only by food production. To continue its exponential growth, the BioAlliance aims to establish the Island as a national biomanufacturing centre of excellence.

Over the past several years, BioAlliance partners in both the public and private sectors have invested more than $200 million to develop bioprocessing infrastructure, expertise, and services, says the report. These initiatives have included the construction of the first Bioscience Manufacturing Incubator in the region and the expansion of existing manufacturing facilities.

The BioAlliance has also launched the Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences, or CASTL, to help nurture talent in the industry. The Strategic Plan lists several goals for CASTL in the next five years, including developing robust training programs in three streams – “New Skilling, Upskilling and Reskilling”.

The Strategic Plan lays out a broad framework for its EmerGence incubator, which supports life sciences companies throughout the region. The BioAlliance aims to improve the quality of companies accepted into the program, and help its companies to access the new $50 million fund operated by the Charlottetown-based Natural Products Canada.

Technow, who is also CEO of Charlotetown-based BioVectra, said the pandemic has re-awakened people to the importance of having the knowhow and infrastructure to manufacture vital drugs and vaccines to protect population health.

“Governments, academic researchers, and private sector partners must work together to ensure all the elements are in place for success,” he said. “P.E.I. has done an excellent job of implementing an ecosystem approach that has created significant competitive advantage for research and manufacturing businesses, and facilitated a ‘can do’ culture.”