Prince Edward Island’s bioeconomy has already surpassed its 2025 growth targets, posting a gangbusters $575 million in revenue in 2021, exceeding 2020’s figure by about $200 million.

Survey data from industry group the PEI BioAlliance of more than 65 companies of varying ages indicates the sector now employs more than 2,300 people, having added 400 new jobs since the beginning of the pandemic.

A statement from the BioAlliance did not clarify exactly which growth targets the sector has beaten, but did say life sciences companies attracted almost twice as much investment in 2021 as in the prior year, at more than $110 million. Business-led research and development spend was also up $8 million to $28.2 million.

“The accelerated growth and strength of PEI’s bio sector is very encouraging, particularly in these challenging economic times,” said Oliver Technow, who chairs the BioAlliance’s board. He is also the CEO of Charlottetown’s BioVectra, which manufactures pharmaceutical ingredients and is owned by Miami-based private equity firm H.I.G. Capital.

“Sector investments in research, new product development, and manufacturing capacity have successfully translated to sales revenue from global markets.”

Private sector businesses also invested more than $69 million in new facilities and equipment, down slightly from $80 million the year prior.

The BioAlliance also warned, though, that growth is restrained by a shortage of skilled workers and limited availability of advanced research and development, and manufacturing facilities.

Last summer, the organization released a labour market white paper warning of a fast-growing industry hungry for more talent than it can readily access, with companies struggling with rising turnover rates, and a particular dearth of entry-level staff. It also cited companies' difficulty raising money because investors question whether founders can execute on their visions without adequate supplies of employees.

But the BioAlliance has spearheaded efforts to address those issues, including by leading the creation of the Canadian Alliance for Skills and Training in Life Sciences — a national, Charlottetown-based partnership between academia, industry and government that specializes in training workers for the biopharmaceutical manufacturing industry.

The BioAlliance recently opened its 20,000-square-foot, six-unit BioManufacturing Incubator, which was fully leased even before its completion.

“It’s truly remarkable to see the range of breakthrough technologies and products coming from our cluster companies that are bringing new solutions to global challenges in human, animal, and fish health,” said BioAlliance CEO Rory Francis.

“Collaboration and cooperation among businesses, academic and research partners, and governments at all levels continues to make PEI a great place to grow bioscience-based businesses.”