Within Canada, Ottawa is a leader in transforming biotechnology into a new focus for economic activity. The nation’s capital enjoys a combination of strong government support, innovative academic institutions, and leading private companies. This unique combination helps facilitate industry growth and the sustainability of research-focused activities.

Through increased capital investment and growing support from partners, Ottawa’s life sciences sector has emerged into the global market and is now at the center of discovery, development and commercialization. New companies are quickly evolving in this field, while existing businesses are thriving. Ottawa-based industry leaders include: Nordion, Abbott Point of Care, Best Theratronics, Variation Biotechnologies and Thermo Fisher Scientific.

The development of the life sciences sector in Ottawa has been supported by local universities and university-affiliated hospital research centers. The University of Ottawa and its highly-acclaimed medical program, along with Carleton University, both offer excellent undergraduate and graduate training in: health sciences, engineering, business administration, information technology, and other life sciences-related fields. In addition, Algonquin College and La Cité collégiale offer certification and job skill training programs.

There are more than 140 life sciences companies in the city, employing over 8,500 people. Ottawa is also home to 20 public research institutes and 20 associations focused on the sector. On the health side, there are 10 hospitals undertaking in excess of $156 million of research annually. Invest Ottawa promotes excellence in the life sciences sector by providing services to support company growth from startup to global enterprise.

Ottawa Health & Life Sciences Cluster

A new Ottawa Health & Life Sciences Cluster Executive was formed in March 2011, bringing industry-caliber know-how and strategic support to the cluster. The executive is an independent group that works with Invest Ottawa to support the development of the sector, and to provide leadership in the areas of identification, development and execution.

The members of the 2012-2013 Ottawa Health & Life Sciences Cluster Executive are:

  • Dane Bedward, Founder and CEO of NeuroBot Inc.
  • Richard Bonato, Co-founder and CEO, Braebon
  • Eric Brouwer, Senior Manager, Abbott Point of Care
  • Tom Burnett, General Manager, Medical Isotopes, Nordion
  • Kevin Carroll, Managing Director, Innovation, Invest Ottawa
  • Sophie Chen, Senior Business Development Manager, Life Sciences Sector, Invest Ottawa
  • Stephen Fanjoy, President, Stephen Fanjoy Management Consulting (Co-Chair)
  • Walt Hutchings, Managing Director, Investment and Trade, Invest Ottawa
  • Jeff Smith, President, Allphase Clinical Research (Co-Chair)
  • Duncan Stewart, CEO and Scientific Director, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute; Vice President of Research, The Ottawa Hospital, The Evelyn & Rowell Lavishly Chair, Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa
  • Giovanni Vatieri, National Health Practice Leader and Partner, Global Business Services, IBM
Ottawa Life Sciences Cluster vision

“To make Ottawa increasingly recognized as a leader in life sciences and health innovation and commercialization”

Ottawa Life Sciences Key Objectives:
  • Clearly define, promote, and grow the strengths of the Ottawa Life Sciences Cluster
  • Strengthen the value proposition and brand of the Ottawa Life Sciences Cluster
  • Capitalize on existing life sciences and health research strengths by enabling collaborations with industry to promote commercialization
  • Build a scorecard to track and rate Ottawa’s progress from bench to commercialization in life sciences and health
Additional Resources

BioPortal is the Government of Canada’s resource for consumers, industry, scientists, and educators in the biotechnology field.

BIOTECanada represents Canadian health care, agricultural, food, research, and other organizations that are involved in biotechnology.

Industry Contact

Sophie Chen
Senior Business Development Manager
(613) 828-6274 ext. 212

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Events of Interest

Biotechnology Day at La Cité – 6th edition
Advances in Modern Biotechnology – Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering
March 20, 2014 La Cité, Ottawa, ON

Ontario Medical Imaging Mission to Japan & Korea
International Technical Exhibition of Medical Imaging (ITEM) 2014
April 8-9, 2014 Seoul, South Korea
April 10-13, 2014 Tokyo/Yokohama, Japan
DEADLINE TO APPLY: January 31, 2014 (Pre-registration form)

Ontario Medical Device Mission to China
The 71st China International Medical Equipment Fair
Shenzhen, April 17 – 20, 2014


Companies with primary or secondary focus on life sciences.


Total life sciences talent.

$156 M

In funding annually for research in Ottawa’s 10 hospitals.

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"Ottawa's rich talent pool, world-class academic and research facilities, and legacy of strong public/private collaborations have created an environment ideally suited to help HSDOs flourish and drive innovation."

− Giovanni Vatieri, Partner, Global Business Services – Health, IBM Canada

"To compete more effectively, IBM believes health service delivery organisations (HSDO) must develop new business models, fuel innovation in R&D and drive greater discovery, and Ottawa offers an environment and resources ideally suited to these pursuits."

− Giovanni Vatieri, Partner, Global Business Services – Health, IBM Canada

"The fundamental building blocks for any company start with great talent and Nordion has capitalized on Ottawa's phenomenal skilled labour and in-house research expertise as a recognizable competitive advantage."

− Steve West, CEO, Nordion

"Ottawa is a city built on innovation, talent, entrepreneurship and R&D. These key attributes have played a critical role in contributing to Nordion's success as a global company in the health science market."

− Steve West, CEO, Nordion

"BRAEBON has found the City of Ottawa to be an excellent locale from which to develop and launch our medical devices. Local institutions of higher learning provide an available pool of skilled resources, and access to Federal Government research facilities, such as NRC, facilitate the development of our cutting-edge technologies."

− Richard Bonato, President & CEO, BRAEBON Medical Corporation

"Ottawa's access to local and global partners coupled with the willingness of academia, government and industry to work together to attract and retain talent and businesses is part of the DNA that makes Ottawa a very appealing place to run a company."

− Sean Tomalty, Plant Director, Abbott Point of Care

"It goes without saying that Ottawa has a great talent pool. During the decision making process that led to the establishment of Abbott Point of Care's manufacturing plant in Ottawa, this breadth of talent was of utmost importance."

− Sean Tomalty, Plant Director, Abbott Point of Care