Toronto biotechnology cluster is a significant player in the global biotech industry. According to InvestToronto, Toronto is home to 55% of Canada’s pharmaceutical companies and 65% of Canadian pharmaceutical jobs are based in the Toronto region. 53 of the world’s top 100 life sciences multinationals and 16 of the top 25 global medical device companies operate in the Toronto region, including Amgen, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Teva.
Toronto has 10 hospital networks, over 1,000 biotechnology institutes and companies and a workforce of over 45,000 individuals in the life sciences sector.
Top universities in Toronto include University of Toronto, York University and Ryerson University. University of Toronto has one of the largest faculties of medicine in North America. University of Toronto Medical Faculty has 766 medical students, 819 PhD students, over 5000 faculty members and 23 affiliated hospitals & research centres (here). With approximately 700 full time faculty members, 21,000 undergraduate and 700 graduate students, Ryerson University is the largest primarily undergraduate university in Canada with a strong applied focus. York University has a dynamic academic community of 50,000 students and 5,000 faculty and staff.
Toronto's Discovery District is Canada's largest concentration of research institutes, business incubators and business support services (here). The Discovery District is responsible for over $1 billion of research annually, taking research and innovation from bench to bedside, from concept to final product.
The Discovery District is the most densely occupied geographic centre for research in the world. The network of 22,000 medical-related professionals, including 9,000 principal researchers and technicians, is housed within 37 research institutes and nine teaching hospitals. These researchers have a global reputation for medical and technological breakthroughs in areas such as breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's and cystic fibrosis research.
MaRS Centre is a convergence innovation centre in the heart of Toronto’s world renowned “Discovery District” that connects the leadership in science, business and capital to create a more efficient commercialization marketplace in Canada.
MaRS provides corporations, start-ups and research organizations with a unique mix of advanced laboratory and office space, and access to exceptional conference, meeting and studio areas. The completion of the 780,000 sq. ft. MaRS Centre Phase 2 facility in 2014 increased MaRS’ footprint to over 1.5 million sq. ft., making it one of the largest urban innovation hubs in the world (here).
JLABS @ Toronto is Johnson & Johnson Innovation’s first incubator outside of the United States. The incubator is a partnership between the company, the University of Toronto, MaRS Innovation, MaRS Discovery District and the Province of Ontario (here). The project has secured an investment of $19.4M from the Strategic Partnerships Stream of the new Jobs and Prosperity Fund.
Toronto has very competitive R&D cost, overtaking the major US biotech clusters (here). Ontario boasts the most generous R&D tax credits of the G7 countries. Combined with federal R&D programs, Ontario's R&D Tax Program can reduce the after-tax cost of every $100 in R&D spending to between $61 and $37. For small- and medium-sized companies, there is an additional 10% refundable Ontario Innovation Tax Credit worth up to $300,000 annually (here).
In June 2011, Sanofi Pasteur opened a $101 million dollar vaccine research and development facility at Sanofi Pasteur’s Connaught Campus in north Toronto. The Hospital for Sick Children opened a 21-storey research tower in the Discovery District in 2013. The $400 million building houses their research institute's 2,000 scientists and staff. Toronto Western Hospital opened the $165 million Krembil Discovery Centre in 2013, a nine-storey, 325,000 ft2 facility dedicated to research.
Toronto biotech cluster includes life sciences start-ups such as Profound Medical (prostate cancer), RNA Diagnostics (molecular diagnostics), Flourinov Pharma (small molecule drug), Apollonia Health (pediatric oral hygiene) and Colibri Technologies (medtech). ScarX Therapeutics, a spin-out of MaRS Innovation, is a therapeutic biotechnology venture developing a topical cream to minimize dermal scarring in post-surgical wound closures. The firm closed $2 million Series A financing in February 2016 (here).