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 2014 Ottawa Health & Life Sciences Cluster are:

  • Jeff Smith, President, Allphase Clinical Research (Co-Chair)
  • Giovanni Vatieri, VP, Healthcare & Life Sciences, Thoughtwire (Co-Chair)
  • Stephen Fanjoy, President, Stephen Fanjoy Management Consulting
  • Eric Brouwer, Senior Manager, Abbott Point of Care
  • Richard Bonato, Co-founder and CEO, Braebon
  • Tom Burnett, President, Medical Isotopes, Nordion
  • Paul Hession, Professional Engineer
  • 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
  • Dane Bedward, Founder and CEO of NeuroBot Inc.
  • Sophie Chen, Senior Business Development Manager, Life Sciences Sector, Invest Ottawa
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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Notes & Events of Interest

12 mars 2015
7e Journée annuelle de la biotechnologie de la Cité
Thématique – Avancées de la biotechnologie moderne
Sujet – Nouveaux vaccins à l’ère des pandémies


HealthPartners represents 16 of Canada’s leading health charities working together to raise funds through workplace giving.


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.

Sector Profile

Request the 12-page life sciences sector profile.


Industry Mailing List

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Industry Database

Search the life sciences database for companies in this industry.

Industry News

Check out the latest news from the life sciences industry.

Ottawa has provided us with an exceptional environment for business growth. We are able to meet most of our staffing needs locally, by accessing the pool of highly talented and skilled labour that exists in the Ottawa area. We also benefit from the support available in Ottawa from federal, provincial and local government agencies, including access to the research capabilities and facilities of our local universities and national labs. And for our employees and their families, Ottawa provides a wonderful community to live in and a great quality of life.
Dave MuirPresident & CEOGasTOPS Ltd.

2013 marks Ericsson’s 60th anniversary in Canada. Now, as one of the top R&D investors in the country, we see the Ottawa R&D Centre playing a key role in the development of our Heterogeneous Network Strategy, developing small cell technology, as well as integrating Carrier Class WiFi capabilities as part of that strategy. Having invested nearly $4 Billion in Canadian R&D we are committed to the continual strengthening of Canada’s ICT ecosystem.
Mark HendersonPresident & CEOEricsson Canada

Invest Ottawa have been absolutely fabulous. We’ve been very lucky to have both the cast and crew that we have for this because they’re very, very professional and they drill down like a well-oiled machine.
Kyle PortburyDirectorTell the World

Calian was founded in Ottawa and this year we are celebrating our 30th anniversary in business. We have grown into a $236 million company employing 2,400 people across Canada serving both domestic and international customers. A majority of our business is in the defence sector and much of our success is due to the positive business climate in Ottawa and the tremendous relationship we have with our clients, partners and sector development organizations.
Kevin FordPresidentCalian, BTS Division

The more innovative approach is the kind being adopted by Carleton and Algonquin, in which students study at both institutions consecutively so that they can take what they learn in human computer interaction at university and immediately apply it to their 3D software course at college.
Rein AnderssenGlobe and Mail

Invest Ottawa has been really helpful in challenging me to ask myself the right questions about my business and presenting the pros and cons about being an entrepreneur. The seminars and meetings I attended were always highly informative and to the point, providing me with valuable knowledge that could be directly applied my business.
Vicki FlorioFounderRocky & Julio

Bringing together technology professionals with established world class medical experts at Ottawa Eye Institute has helped us develop product we could never do in a different environment. A perfect place to live and play!
Nick RibaricPresidentAnnidis Health Systems

Algonquin College turns out a lot of great animators, and even the ones that don’t come from Ottawa usually spend some time in Ottawa given the handful of animation companies, and the history – We have 30 years of animation in Ottawa.
Jonathan WisemanPresident & CEOAmberwood Entertainment

Ottawa is a great city to work and play, it’s a beautiful city that offers everything that anyone could want for a great quality of life.
Leslie Klein, Ph.D., P.Eng.President & CEOC-COM Satellite Systems

Ottawa is the natural national hub because the nation’s defence and security agencies are headquartered in the capital city. Ottawa also has direct channels to Washington and the U.S. defence and security market. Plus, federal export agencies and foreign embassies here can assist with the development of overseas markets.

Over the past year we have appreciated the support provided by Invest Ottawa in helping us align our own strategy to grow and attract cleantech businesses and for participating in our ‘Cleantech in the Corridor’ initiatives.
Roddy G. Bolivar, P.Eng.Bolivar~Phillips

Ottawa is great for the locations – not far, little traffic – and people aren’t used to closing streets – people welcome it – they are happy. You can shoot downtown and then be in the countryside in 15 minutes. We also have the four seasons – we can have snow and also very hot and humid weather and the orange colours of fall.
Marie-Pierre GariépyProducerSlalom Productions

This town is just BRISTLING with talented people.
Lynn TarzwellProgram CoordinatorAlgonquin College Scriptwriting

With the help of the Regional Innovation Centre for Ottawa and Eastern Ontario, we received $120,000 in Federal IRAP funding, another $25,000 in seed funding from the Ontario Centres of Excellence. This timely access to funds accelerated our company’s market entry for JetStreamHD by at least six months.
Grant HallCEONuvyyo

We believe that Infinera Ottawa has been able to assemble the best coherent optical engineering team in the industry, helping us deliver high capacity optical transport solutions that our customers are using to build the next generation Internet.
Fred Kish, Ph.D.Senior Vice President, Optical Integrated Circuit GroupInfinera Canada

Ottawa has long been a nurturing ground for some of the world’s brightest minds in telecommunications.
Sean YangPresidentHuawei Canada

GrindspaceXL has given us the confidence to pursue our entrepreneurial goals. Like anything, being an entrepreneur requires discipline and methodology. We brought the discipline and GrindspaceXL provided the methodology. It is a magic mixture.
Nick MartynPresident & CEODeep Logic Solutions Inc.

Ciena is committed to making Ottawa and Canada a focal centre for its global R&D operations, and to maintaining significant technology investment and principal R&D functions in Canada.
Philippe MorinSenior Vice President, Global Products GroupCiena

There is a lot of opportunity in mobile – which is generating more talent and expertise in the city.
Patrick WhiteProducerFuel Industries

Ottawa has a complete, mature technology ecosystem from 30 years of telecom innovation, a desire to lead in green wireless areas, and a right-sized city for a great balance of work and home life.
Michael McCallenGeneral ManagerJDSU

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 VatieriPartner, Global Business Services – HealthIBM Canada

Ottawa has a strong heritage in software.
Graeme BarlowCEORocket Owl

How important it is to focus. Lots of opportunities will come your way if you’re doing things right, and people will naturally be drawn to your business. But if you get distracted by easy revenue, or service providers, or a low-cost hire, it can take a definite toll on your ability to build the business. Double-down on what you’re doing and what you’re doing well – the big businesses now didn’t start off with 600 products or features.
Brandon WaselnukCEOTattoo Hero

Ottawa is, I would say, really the epicentre of BlackBerry 10 development. The hardware core, the radio and the software, the OS comes from QNX (a BlackBerry subsidiary), all the integration with the chipset -all that is done in Ottawa.
Thorsten HeinsCEOBlackberry

We want to make Ottawa the world photonics center. Our goals really have no limits.
Robert W. BoydCanada Excellence Research Chair, Quantum Nonlinear OpticUniversity of Ottawa

Access to R&D talent, as well as university cooperation in conjunction with government support on all levels is also available. Funding through SR&ED and IRAP, as well as excellent federal and provincial assistance for export, EDC funding and other essential tools that support businesses, are in place as well.
Leslie Klein, Ph.D., P.Eng.President & CEOC-COM Satellite Systems

I am a huge supporter of the Cooperative Education Program. Our company benefits greatly from the skills, confidence and energy that the students bring to our Research & Development campus. They “hit the ground running” as new hires – it is a win – win relationship.
Sean BlanchfieldIPR&T Lab Team LeaderAlcatel-Lucent

The impact of GrindSpaceXL will be felt for many years. In a nutshell it has helped us re-focus and become more engaged with our clients.
Garth JonesChief ArchitectEnhansoft

The space has been an invaluable one for us. I can’t imagine still running our business the way we were trying to before coming here. The staff, amenities and the meeting rooms are fantastic.
Moni AssiCo-Founder & MVP-MarketerLooper Labs

Very, very, very rarely will I have to go outside of Ottawa for talent.
Ron GallantPresidentAffinity Productions

We see the Ottawa R&D Centre playing a key role in the development of our Heterogeneous Network Strategy, developing small cell technology, as well as integrating Carrier Class WiFi capabilities as a part of that strategy.
Mark HendersonPresident & CEOEricsson Canada

We can sub in for city, country, big city, and small city. The community is also very supportive.

Ottawa’s mature technology ecosystem from thirty years of telecom innovation provides JDSU a strong talent pool for developing next generation optical and test solutions for the industry.
Michael McCallenGeneral ManagerJDSU

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 WestCEONordion

Ottawa has the right mix of engineers, artists and interaction designers who understand the true value of a great user experience.

Co-op students are fantastic. They’re highly skilled in a lot of ways and bring a fantastic energy to the office. I’ve always found them eager to learn and highly motivated.
Jeff WesteindeFounding PartnerWindmill Development Group

The Canada Research Centre in Ottawa is not only helping Huawei strengthen our R&D capabilities, our team of Canadian innovators is helping lead our long-term global wireless roadmap. This research will help drive further investment into Canada, and ensure Huawei is an important contributor in the growth of Canada’s digital economy.
Sean YangPresidentHuawei Canada

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 WestCEONordion

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 TomaltyPlant DirectorAbbott Point of Care

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 VatieriPartner, Global Business Services – HealthIBM Canada

As a result of the cumulative impact of the GrindSpaceXL workshops and follow-up meetings with advisors, we are now more well-rounded in knowledge and confident in our actions and next steps. We would not have been able to pay for this kind of expertise.
Ryan MacGregorCEO & FounderSweetSeat

Alcatel-Lucent Ottawa is one of the major wireless product development sites in the company, and the Ottawa campus also houses key aspects of our Wireless ngConnect Program.
David RitonjaVice President ISAM Product Unit North AmericaAlcatel-Lucent, Ottawa Research and Innovation Centre

Invest Ottawa’s “matchmaking” services are helping Willis College to bridge existing IT skills gap, strengthen job creation partnerships with Fortune 500 campanies such as Fortinet and Check Point and encourage other international companies to expand their offices in Ottawa creating even more career opportunities in Ottawa. Thank you Invest Ottawa.
Rima AristocratPresidentWillis College

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 BonatoPresident & CEOBRAEBON 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 TomaltyPlant DirectorAbbott Point of Care

SWOT analyses of 19 vendors in the File Sync & Share space that will help us identify which ones to target for partnership/acquisition. Two reports from Ovum that help define the market. This type of information is impossible for a startup to obtain without Invest Ottawa and the proactive approach from their market research team.
Hans DownerPresident & CEOSavvyDox

The Ottawa Development Centre is crucial to Cisco’s global innovation strategy. The centre is home to a world-class team of engineers responsible for developing essential components that touch virtually every service provider and enterprise customer network in the world.
Nitin KawalePresidentCisco Canada

Canada ranks among the top 10 countries worldwide when it comes to spawning clean technology companies.
World Wildlife Fund and the multinational research firmCleantech Group LLC

There is a vibrant film and television industry alive in Ottawa.
Marie-Pierre GariépyProducerSlalom Productions