Fortify, attract, diversify: Unlocking the full potential of the Life Sciences in Alberta


Share this:

As we begin to reflect on the close of a successful year, it’s clear that Life Sciences is a flourishing sector poised for continued growth in Alberta.

Not only did Alberta’s Life Sciences sector generate $2 billion in revenue in 2022 and promise 55% revenue growth in 2023, it has also attracted over $2.6 billion in venture capital investments since 2013. Our sector continually delivers excellence in clinical research through our world-renowned institutions across the province, and has the potential to bring economic diversification with the emergence of the scale-up ecosystem. 

Energy, heat & fuels 4

To continue momentum and secure Alberta’s position as a life sciences hub, there is a strong demand to capitalize on our resources and maximize potential. To get there, it’s first helpful to look at where we came from.

Looking back

Historically, gaps in industry support and limited capacity for drug development and manufacturing due to a lack of infrastructure have hindered economic gains, talent retention, and investment attraction. This is where API has played an integral role as the sector’s catalyst for growth.

Over the past five years, API has addressed key challenges that hold life sciences companies and innovators back from commercializing pharmaceuticals, natural health products, medical devices, diagnostics, and more. This includes:

  • Supporting more than 75 industry projects
  • Supporting over 50 SMEs, scale-ups, and spin-offs
  • Creating more than $500M in value for life sciences companies

In a nutshell, we do this by:

  • Providing fee-for-service support to life sciences companies and innovators ranging from lab-based services to science & business.
  • Developing programs and courses to support innovators in the life sciences that will help them launch, navigate, and accelerate their ideas through regulatory environments and into the market.
  • Growing and strengthening Alberta’s industry-ready talent pool by creating and providing access to training programs for students and trainees in the life sciences
TNT Summit Image

This year, we also continued our work on key initiatives like the Canadian Critical Drug Initiative (CCDI), the third Life Sciences Investment Summit, managing programming at the Health Innovation Hub, and the first-ever Life Sciences Week. Each of these projects achieved success or reached significant milestones in 2023 to further our efforts to catalyze the industry’s growth.

Looking forward

As of 2023, API has grown to more than 70 employees and is Alberta’s largest not-for-profit life sciences organization. With the continued commitment and support of our decision makers, industry experts, and ecosystem partners, we have built momentum and envision an exciting future for the life sciences in Alberta.

Part of this exciting future is our work on the Canadian Critical Drug Initiative (CCDI). The coming year will mark a critical year in the evolution of the CCDI, as we anticipate key milestones for the upgrade of the BBDC and breaking ground on a new manufacturing facility in the Edmonton Research Park.

DJI 0027 ERP CCDI site

To reach its full potential, the CCDI requires continued commitment and support. Underpinning this are three pillars of potential that will fill gaps, meet demands, and boost the capacity and competitiveness of the province.

Fortify our health system

There is an opportunity to expand our capacity and better prepare for future health threats with the creation of new facilities that can support the development and production of common and new drugs locally. 

The CCDI includes building and equipping a new 50,000+ sq ft manufacturing facility that can produce small-molecule therapeutics from active pharmaceutical ingredients to finished product. The manufacturing facility will be tied into the health system, directly supplying our hospitals, mitigating shortages, and producing key drugs in scalable volumes.

Training and attracting talent

Alberta has a wealth of industry talent – from students and researchers, to innovators and entrepreneurs. The CCDI not only promises to create 350 jobs, but also attract new talent and increase the capacity for and readiness of this talent. 

Central to the CCDI is the activation and further development of the Edmonton Research Park and upgrading the 72,000 square foot Biotechnology Business Development Centre (BBDC), which, paired with the new manufacturing facility, will serve as an incentive for companies to locate in Alberta. 

Also, graduates from post-secondary institutions will gain more hands-on experience by working for these companies, within these facilities, better equipping them to join companies in the growing sector.

Grow and diversify the economy

With a close relationship between the life sciences sector and others in Alberta, there is a significant opportunity to diversify the economy. Complementary sectors include the petrochemical, agriculture, and artificial intelligence sectors, which paired with Alberta’s research leadership, creates a rich environment for economic potential and the projected growth and success of the life sciences.

The CCDI presents a plethora of solutions to intensify the potential of the life sciences in Alberta, improve Canada’s health system, and elevate economic growth and development. We’re pleased to close out 2023 by reflecting
on its key milestones, but look forward to realizing continued support and progress on the initiative in 2024.


BioAlberta. (2023). Life Sciences in Alberta State of the Industry (SOI) 2023. Deloitte. 

BIOTECanada Insights Fall 2023. (2023, October 23). Issuu.