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Stem Cell Therapies: Made in Canada

By February 28, 2019No Comments

If you didn’t know any better, you might think every plant or life sciences project in Canada is being driven by cannabis legalization.

But a glance at recent projects across western Canada shows significant projects in these sectors that have nothing to do with CBD or THC, including J.R. Simplot’s C$460-million potato-plant expansion in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, and German firm Canadian Protein Innovation’s C$100-million, 110-job plant for processing peas in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Another is a C$138-million, five-year investment by Canada’s largest biotech company. Vancouver-based STEMCELL Technologies last April announced that a C$45-million joint funding agreement between the governments of Canada and British Columbia would help it build a new advanced manufacturing facility in Burnaby, B.C.

Expected to take five years to complete, the new facility and its nearly 700 new employees will enable STEMCELL to manufacture its products at the higher regulatory compliance standard required to support clinical trials cell therapy, tissue engineering, immunotherapy, gene therapy and regenerative medicine.

“This funding provides our company with the ability to add hundreds of new, high-paying jobs in BC to support global research leading to the therapies of the future,” said Dr. Allen Eaves, founder, president and CEO of STEMCELL Technologies. “It also means that we can contribute to the next generation of landmark treatments and ensures that this coming wave of stem cell therapies is stamped with the Canadian maple leaf. We are proud to be an example of the sort of growth and innovation that can be accomplished when high-tech companies partner with forward-thinking governments.”

The company, which celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018, already employs 1,000 people, serves customers in 80 countries and maintains offices in nine foreign cities, including two each in China and the UK, and its most recently established foreign office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“This is the kind of opportunity our government looks for — one that can help make a real difference in the health and quality of life for people here at home and abroad,” said British Columbia Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology the Honorable Bruce Ralston.

“Canadians paved the way in stem cell research,” said Canada’s Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development the Honorable Navdeep Bains, alluding to the discovery of stem cells in Toronto in 1961 by Ontario Cancer Institute biophysicist James Till and his colleague Ernest McCulloch, a cellular biologist.

“Now we’re investing in STEMCELL Technologies to help commercialize this success,” Bains continued. “The Government of Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund investment will create nearly 700 jobs and advance life-saving innovations that will secure STEMCELL’s place in the global supply chain for years to come.”