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Investment announcement

Edmonton region to become pharmaceutical hub

Source: Edmonton Global 

Canadian Critical Drug Initiative will close Canada’s drug manufacturing gap and attract investment into the region

Today, the Government of Canada announced $80.5 million in funding to support the Canadian Critical Drug Initiative (CCDI), significantly growing drug manufacturing capacity and making the Edmonton region Canada’s small molecule manufacturing hub.

This is another example of how the Edmonton region is increasingly being recognized for its expertise in pharmaceuticals and virology. The University of Alberta was recently named as the lead for the newly established Prairie research hub for pandemic preparedness because of its leadership in the research and commercialization in the area of virology. The University is home to Nobel laureate, Dr. Michael Houghton, who received this prestigious award in 2020 for his role in discovering the Hepatitis C virus.

The University of Alberta has the largest consortium of virologists in Canada within the Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology – led by founding director, Dr. Lorne Tyrell, an Officer of the Order of Canada and a member of the government of Canada’s COVID-19 Task Force that helped advise on the selection of vaccines.

The University also includes experts in medical microbiology, immunology and infectious diseases, world-leading artificial intelligence researchers, and has a track record of creating startups and building partnerships with industry. The University is also home to the Alberta Cell Therapy Manufacturing, a large facility purpose-built to meet the highest standards required for manufacturing cell-based therapies.

The CCDI will increase this capacity and include a new, 40,000 square-foot manufacturing facility and upgrades to the existing 72,000 square-foot Biotechnology Business Development Centre (BBDC). These facilities will produce critical life-saving drugs and support the development of new pharmaceuticals – some of which would be developed at the Li Ka Shing Institute in Virology – ensuring that intellectual property (IP) developed in the region, will be commercialized here. It will also transform the Edmonton region’s life sciences sector by further attracting and retaining talent and investment.

Quick facts:

  • CCDI is an integrated initiative led by Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation (API) in partnership with the University of Alberta’s Li Ka Shing Applied Virology Institute (LKSAVI).

  • The new manufacturing facility is anticipated to open in 2026.

  • The upgrades to the existing Biotechnology Business Development Centre are anticipated to be completed by 2024 and will include a Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) lab and upgrades to its core facilities.

  • API will be able to support increased capacity for commercializing new drugs through the entire drug development process.

  • More than 350 highly skilled jobs in drug development will be created.

  • This investment will provide training to more than 175 skilled workers.

  • CCDI is supported by all levels of government and is linked to Canada’s biomanufacturing and life sciences strategy.

  • A new research and development program will be created to train technicians and scientists.

  • CCDI will support clinical trials to develop and commercialize new medical treatments.

  • This investment will support the growth of at least 60 early-stage life sciences companies.


“This investment, through the Regional Innovation Ecosystem (RIE) program, provides these Canadian firms with the resources and support they need to grow our country’s expertise in the life sciences sector and increase Canada’s competitiveness in global markets. Today’s launch of the Canadian Critical Drug Initiative will help enable Canadian innovators to strengthen our local supply chain for critical medicines while supporting the expansion of early-stage companies and creating good jobs.”

— The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister for PrairiesCan

“Edmonton is a city on the cutting edge of technology, from its expert workforce to scientific innovations and world class educational institutions. With today’s announcement, we’ll also ensure our city becomes a vital hub for bringing Canadian-made biomedical solutions to global markets. This federal investment in the Canadian Critical Drug Initiative will bolster Edmonton’s great strength in the life sciences sector and help realize the tremendous potential of these early-stage firms to drive economic growth and provide critical drug manufacturing capacity for Canadians.”

—The Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance

 “Our government continues to take all necessary steps to protect Canadians’ health and safety. This is why the launch of the Canadian Critical Drug Initiative is another step in the right direction for our country’s biomanufacturing and life sciences sector. Aligned with our Biomanufacturing and Life Sciences Strategy, this project will transform our ability to produce critical medicines through strengthened research and manufacturing systems that will result in economic and health benefits to Canadians, while protecting them for years to come.”

—The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

 “Alberta has a vibrant and thriving research, development, and manufacturing ecosystem to develop and produce a domestic supply of essential pharmaceuticals with potential to reach global markets. I am proud of the Alberta government’s support of these efforts with commitments of $20 million to the Li Ka Shing Institute and $5.6 million to Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation in connection with today’s announcement from the Federal government. Together we can ensure that Alberta will be a competitive life sciences hub on the global stage.”

—The Honourable Nate Glubish, Minister of Technology and Innovation, Government of Alberta

 “This announcement builds on the Edmonton region’s long history of supporting medical innovation and our reputation as a world-class hub for the health and life sciences sector. With our highly educated workforce, connected community of experts, and low cost of doing business, we have the key ingredients to support new and upcoming companies.”

— Mayor Amarjeet Sohi, City of Edmonton

 “The Government of Canada’s funding is an absolute game-changer. This integration of research, commercialization and manufacturing means API can support innovators and companies through the entire drug development process, particularly during clinical trials. There is significant opportunity in the life sciences sector to grow and diversify our economy, create rewarding jobs, and strengthen Canada’s global competitiveness for drug manufacturing.”

— Andrew MacIsaac, CEO, API

“This extraordinary federal investment – one of the largest in the university’s history – will build on the University of Alberta’s global leadership in biomedical research, including the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2020. Along with the recent exciting announcement of federal funding in support of the PRAIRIE research hub for pandemic preparedness – with U of A in the lead – today’s announcement will position the U of A and Alberta to play a leading role in strengthening Canada’s healthcare system. The Canadian Critical Drug Initiative sets the standard for how partnerships between government, industry and universities can advance research and improve health outcomes for all.”

— Bill Flanagan, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Alberta

 “This is tremendous news for our life sciences sector – a sector that has the ability to transform our economy and attract international attention and investment into the Edmonton Metropolitan Region. CCDI will provide a major boost to Canada’s health care system – ensuring that patients get the care they need when they need it. We’re looking forward to seeing the positive impacts this initiative has on our regional economy and our communities.”

— Malcolm Bruce, CEO, Edmonton Global

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