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Ontario Investing in New Innovative Hub to Grow the Life Sciences Sector in Kitchener and Waterloo

April 13, 2023
Premier’s Office

KITCHENER — The Ontario government is investing $7.5 million to help build a state-of-the-art Innovation Arena at the University of Waterloo. The new $35 million facility will be a hub for innovation in Ontario’s life sciences sector in Kitchener and Waterloo, supporting the development of new health technology and the commercialization of intellectual property and encouraging investment and job creation.

“It’s great to see the Team Ontario spirit in action with the University of Waterloo, the private sector and all levels of government coming together to build this world class facility,” said Premier Doug Ford. “As we continue to grow our province’s life sciences sector, the new Innovation Arena will accelerate the development and commercialization of made in Ontario innovations, create new jobs and help to attract investments to Kitchener and Waterloo.”

The University of Waterloo and the City of Kitchener are partnering to build the new 90,000 square-foot Innovation Arena. The facility will include a health-tech incubator and a small business centre with a shared wet lab for local entrepreneurs and start-ups. The Innovation Arena will be become a focal point in Southwestern Ontario for innovation partnerships, collaboration among businesses, industry and researchers.

Over the last two-and-a-half years, Ontario has attracted nearly $3 billion in investments by global biomanufacturers. The new Innovation Arena will build on this success by supporting the discovery of innovative new health technologies.

“Ontario has a long history of innovation in the life sciences sector, and the Innovation Arena will help many more Ontario start-ups, entrepreneurs and innovations bring their ideas to life and to market,” said Minister Fedeli. “With this investment, we’re ensuring that Ontario remains a global leader in innovation and the life sciences sector now and for generations to come.”

“Ontario has a world-class postsecondary education system and is home to innovative start-ups and scale-up firms,” said Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “By fostering collaboration among businesses, researchers, and community partners, the University of Waterloo’s Innovation Arena will help fast-track the discovery, development, and commercialization of made-in-Ontario research, bringing ideas from the lab to market sooner – a key part of our government’s plan to maximize the value of Ontario-grown innovation.”

The Innovation Arena supports Taking Life Sciences to the Next Level, the province’s first life sciences strategy in a decade. As part of this strategy, Ontario launched a $15 million Life Sciences Innovation Fund to help entrepreneurs bring their ideas from the lab to the marketplace. This early-stage fund, managed through the Ontario Centre of Innovation, will help companies advance made-in-Ontario solutions like vaccines and medical treatments.

Quick Facts
Ontario continues to be a leading jurisdiction for investment and job creation. In 2021, Ontario recorded more than half of all venture capital investments in the entire country at $8.4 billion, including nearly $847 million in the life sciences sector. Ontario is the largest life sciences jurisdiction in Canada, generating 59 per cent of overall Canadian revenue. There are approximately 1,900 life sciences firms across the province, and the human health life sciences sector employs more than 70,100 people in Ontario.
The world’s top 10 pharmaceutical companies by revenue (and others) conduct clinical trials in Ontario. These include Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Novartis, Merck & Co, Pfizer, Bayer, AbbVie, GSK, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi.
Ontario has the third largest number of information and communications technology (ICT) establishments in North America and is home to more than 408,000 ICT workers.
Every year, more than 65,000 STEM students graduate from Ontario postsecondary institutions, producing one of the most highly-skilled life sciences workforces in the world.
The Innovation Arena supports Ontario’s efforts to advance the commercialization of made-in-Ontario research and intellectual property through the Intellectual Property Action Plan.
The med-tech industry generated about $18.7 billion in revenue in 2020 and employs about 30,200 people in Ontario. It includes globally significant companies like GE Healthcare, Medtronic and domestic success stories like Trudell Medical and Synaptive Medical.

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