Biopharmaceutical pipeline and partnering opportunities

Most of Canada's private and public biopharmaceutical companies are small and medium-sized (SME) firms engaged in research and development of new therapeutics. Many biopharmaceutical innovations arise from research conducted in Canadian academic health research institutions, hospitals and government research laboratories. Major biopharmaceutical clusters are located in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver.

The Canadian biopharmaceutical pipeline includes highly innovative and promising product candidates in various therapeutic fields. There are about 158 Canadian biopharmaceutical small and medium enterprises (SMEs) with over 444 promising biopharmaceutical products in human health under development. About 76% of Canada’s biopharmaceutical products are in the early stages of R&D, (i.e., research to phase I/II), while another 24% are in mid- to late- stages of development (i.e., late-stage clinical trials). Canadian companies, over time, have advanced 64 products into phase II development and another 25 are in phase III clinical trials as of March 2017. A small number of Canadian companies have (18) products on the market.

Canadian biopharmaceutical SMEs have strengths in oncology, with 35% specializing in this category, followed by 17% focusing on central nervous systems (CNS), 12% in infectious diseases and 7% in cardiovascular diseases.

Biopharmaceutical SME’s Product Candidates by Stage of Development
(as of March 2017):
Stage Research Pre-clinical Phase I Phase I/II Phase II Phase III Filed Market Total
Total 120 149 52 16 64 25 0 18 444

Source: 2017 Annual Report—Overview of the Canadian Biopharmaceutical Sector,
Peter Winter, March 2017.

Biopharmaceutical SMEs capitalize and strengthen their values by drawing on strong talent, and seeking alliances, partnerships, and licensing deals with venture capital (VC), equity capital and large pharma. The current trend in the global pharmaceutical industry is to externalize drug R&D programs and, as a result, brand-name Multi–National Enterprises (MNEs) are increasingly becoming an important source of financing for biopharmaceutical SMEs. By forming strategic alliances, providing risk capital investments from dedicated corporate VC funds, and participating in VC funds in Canada, pharmaceutical MNEs are providing a window on promising R&D opportunities, and a much needed boost to emerging and early stage biopharmaceutical companies.

Date modified: