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Considering the creation of new biomanufacturing capacity for Canada

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About the consultation

This public consultation is now closed.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that Canada is well-positioned to respond to future health emergencies and is exploring ways in which it can help promote long-term sustainable growth in Canada's biomanufacturing sector. The Government of Canada recognizes that efforts to enhance pandemic preparedness and biosecurity require an ecosystem approach. That is, an approach that is tailored to the Canadian context, that takes into account the expertise of government, industry and academia, and that builds upon existing assets and organizations within the Canadian life sciences sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed significant limitations and gaps in Canada's capacity to produce life-saving vaccines and therapeutic drugs at sufficient scale to meet domestic needs. Serious consideration is being given to how best to ensure that Canada is well-positioned to respond to future health emergencies and how to promote the long-term growth of the Canadian life science sector. Since the outset of the pandemic, the Government of Canada has taken decisive action to ensure safe and secure access for Canadians to vital medications, and aggressively pursued the rebuilding of Canada's biomanufacturing capacity. As it acts to deal decisively with the immediate crisis, the Government is seeking to lay a durable foundation for Canada's ability to respond to the current and future health emergencies.

To position itself to do so, the Government of Canada committed in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement to explore ways that it can support pandemic preparedness going forward. Investments in the Canadian life sciences sector will not only protect Canadians in the event of a pandemic, but also provide enormous economic benefits associated with growing manufacturing capacity, attracting vaccine developers and connecting Canada's world leading life science researchers and start-ups with opportunities to grow and succeed in Canada.

In fact, the Government has already made significant investments to strengthen Canada's biomanufacturing footprint in the days and months since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. These include investments of $126M in the National Research Council's new Biologics Manufacturing Centre, with the new centre capable of manufacturing up to two million doses per month upon completion. This is in addition to the previously announced $44M to upgrade the NRC's existing Royalmount facility to establish biomanufacturing for vaccine clinical trial material, and to de-risk and accelerate vaccine development, as well as other investments and initiatives that the Government had announced in recent years. These include an investment of $37.5M toward a $144M project in PEI-based BioVectra in 2019, and a federal contribution of $22.5M toward a $138M project at STEMCELL in Vancouver in 2018 to support development of regenerative medicines and construction of a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility.

The Government is also investing in additional production capacity by providing support for leading private sector companies, such as AbCellera and Precision Nanosystems Inc. in Vancouver, and Medicago in Quebec City. These investments are supported through the Strategic Innovation Fund, which has been provided up to $792 million to support research and development, clinical trials, and the manufacturing of vaccines and therapeutic drugs to fight COVID-19. The Government also provided a total of $9.7 million to Providence Therapeutics, to scale-up manufacturing capacity for its mRNA vaccine candidate – $4.7M through the NRC Innovation Research Assistance Program (IRAP) and an additional $5M through the Next Generation Manufacturing (NGen) Supercluster.

The significant investments to date are not the only ones in the pipeline. The Government is in active discussion with multiple firms on investment proposals, and it continues to evaluate and consider additional steps to help grow clusters of expertise across the country. Already, global vaccine developers are taking notice of the positive shifts in the Canadian landscape, as evidenced by the recent Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Canada and Novavax, which enables the Government to pursue options to produce the company's vaccines in Canada.

As we look to the future, it will be important for Canada to ensure that investments made on an urgent basis in response to COVID-19 can also address new and emerging threats, such as COVID-19 variants, and that these investments are built upon to ensure that Canadians continue to benefit from a strengthened life sciences sector and long-term domestic pandemic preparedness. In addition to biomanufacturing capacity, this will include ensuring that in the long-term Canada has the talent, research and development pipeline; robust SMEs; and security across the supply chain to support a dynamic and growing biomanufacturing and innovation ecosystem.

View the consultation document

You can read the consultation document Considering the creation of new biomanufacturing capacity for Canada.

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