Global Life Science Opportunities in Biotech & Digital Healthcare

Global Life Science Opportunities in Biotech & Digital Healthcare

Develop new technological advances for the future of healthcare in North America’s emerging biomedical hubs.

Alberta is on the path to become a world-class leader in digital health, backed by a province-wide electronic health records (EHR) database, a multitude of strong research and development institutions, as well as a supportive ecosystem for the latest developments in AI technology. Since 2014, biotech research and development spending has grown by 200% in the province, and an estimated $1.3 billion dollars are projected to be spent on digital transformation in the life sciences sector by 2024. The presence of the Biotechnology Business Development Centre (BBDC) in Edmonton provides infrastructure for biotech businesses to accelerate their development and market commercialization efforts. While Alberta’s cheap and abundant resources, and low corporate taxes, are suitable conditions for businesses focused on medical device contract manufacturing, an industry projected to grow globally to $718.92 billion by 2029.

Alberta Stories

Calgary Cancer Centre

Scheduled to open in 2023, the new Calgary Cancer Centre, named the Arthur J.E. Child Comprehensive Cancer Centre, will become the second-largest comprehensive cancer care and research centre in North America.

Biotechnology Business Development Accelerator Support

Alberta’s biotech sector presents significant opportunities for startups and established businesses focused on the biotechnology industry. The region’s strengths in pharmaceuticals, environmental biotechnology, and agri-biotech are anchored by financial support from the provincial government and academic institutions, as a proactive approach to clinical and drug development. This includes innovation hubs, incubators, and accelerators from Innovate Calgary and the Alberta Innovates system.

The biotech sector in Alberta is geared towards expansive growth from the earliest stages of development, providing valuable lab space and resources for early-stage biotech companies, akin to already world-renown biotech hubs like the California’s San Francisco Bay Area and San Diego, or Boston, Massachusetts. The Biotechnology Business Development Centre in Edmonton is a biotech business accelerator hub in Canada, providing infrastructure like wet labs and office spaces to reduce the cost and time to market for biotech innovations. The BBDC’s collaborative environment in Edmonton Research Park, its flexible leasing, and access to shared high-cost equipment are perfect for startups and scale-ups aiming to expand in the life sciences sector, offering a strategic advantage in the competitive biotech industry.

In 2023, Celero Global, a worldwide clinical development, Singapore-based company, established its North American headquarters in Edmonton, Alberta. A business expansion decision attracted by the city’s strong innovating and passionate life sciences research hub. This move is expected to significantly contribute to the regional economy, emphasizing Edmonton’s growing importance in the global life sciences sector. Specializing in efficient and cost-effective clinical trials for biotech firms, Celero plans to start its operations in Edmonton within three to six months, focusing initially on obesity and nephrology trials. Celero Global, having conducted 80 clinical trials across over 25 countries, offers competitive advantages such as lower costs for Phase 1 trials and services that extend beyond clinical trials to assist in commercialization and scaling.

Digital Healthcare Tech Innovation Funding Programs

Alberta is setting a new benchmark in healthcare innovation and funding, as the Canadian government and Alberta have recently entered into a $1 billion agreement to enhance healthcare over three years, focusing on primary care, mental health services, and digital health data access. This funding is part of a larger $200 billion national healthcare improvement plan. It offers significant opportunities for digital health startups and international investors to contribute to Alberta’s healthcare advancements. 

Alberta Innovates facilitates the advancement of digital healthcare technologies, targeting international partnerships, external investors, and life sciences industrial market expansion to drive economic development throughout Alberta, along with enhancing the quality of care in the medical industry, improving patient care, and promoting wellness and health outcomes throughout the world. With a focus on artificial intelligence, mobile applications, and other advanced technologies, the initiative seeks to transform healthcare delivery, offering a pathway to high-quality care that prioritizes patient experience and equitable value-based care. Funding-driven programs facilitated by Alberta Innovates, including AI-Better Health, Accelerating Innovations into CarE (AICE), and LevMax Health, are designed to support the commercial potential of innovative projects, driving the commercial viability of medical technologies within the global healthcare market.

Life sciences companies in Alberta support jobs

Over 200 life sciences companies are in Alberta, which supports over 15,000 jobs.

Digital Healthcare Electronic Health Record (EHR) System Advantage

Alberta’s healthcare system is notable for its transformative digital health information technology sector, making it unique in Canada for providing an Electronic Health Records (EHR) system to all citizens. This includes:

The integration of these systems, supported by Alberta Health Services as the single healthcare provider, enables a unified dataset of medical records for healthcare organizations and startups to test and scale innovations effectively. The EHR system enhances patient care by reducing medical errors and improving the quality of care through streamlined access to patient medical history and records. 

The adoption of EHR systems in Alberta facilitates improved health care delivery by offering real-time access to electronic patient records, supporting healthcare providers in making informed clinical decisions, and improving patient outcomes. For the healthcare industry, key benefits include electronic records, instead of paper charts, for operational efficiency, optimized care coordination, and enhanced patient safety. Moreover, the digital infrastructure of cloud-based EHR integrations in Canada provides a solid foundation for businesses and startups to develop and commercialize new medical technologies, directly contributing to improved treatment plans, reduced medication errors, and better patient health outcomes.

Resources For New Medical Device Contract Manufacturing

Alberta’s expertise spans across various industries, notably including the petrochemical sector, which lays a solid foundation for advanced continuous manufacturing critical to the medical device industry. The abundant access to cheap feedstocks, basic chemicals, and chemical derivatives supports a wide range of medical device manufacturing, especially in the production of APIs and medical devices. This resource-rich environment is conducive to medical device contract manufacturing, offering medical device companies and contract manufacturers a unique advantage in developing high-quality products while maintaining control over production costs and adhering to strict quality standards. 

The presence of Alberta Health Services as a single healthcare provider in the province enhances the potential for streamlined contract manufacturing services, facilitating easier collaboration between medical device manufacturers and healthcare providers. This synergy ensures that medical products, including a broad range of medical devices, meet the healthcare industry’s demands for innovation and quality management systems.

With expected projections of the global medical devices market from $495.46B in 2022 to $718.92B by 2029 the medical device manufacturing business is in high demand. For contract manufacturing partners and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), Alberta presents a strong opportunity in the medical device contract manufacturing process, from design, materials, to manufacturing, ensuring products meet international standards and regulatory controls while optimizing time to market.

Best Medical Research Schools and Ranked Global Top 100 in Life Sciences: Clinical Research Partnerships & Staffing

Alberta has a strong foundation in life sciences R&D. The University of Alberta and University of Calgary are ranked in the global top 100 for life sciences programs with more than 35 research institutes, 30 Canadian Chairs in Medicine, and a Nobel Prize winner. 

For corporations, Alberta offers access to state-of-the-art R&D facilities and a pipeline of highly skilled professionals graduating from top post-secondary programs. This environment enables strategic collaborations that accelerate the path from innovative research to market-ready medical technologies. The availability of a talent pool with advanced training in life sciences enhances companies’ capabilities in pioneering advancements and elevating patient care standards. 

An Ecosystem Built for Partnerships

Alberta is home to many partners that are eager to grow the province’s life sciences sector 

Alberta Innovates

The province’s largest research and innovation agency with a focus area of promoting health innovations. Alberta Innovates develops partnerships with industry, health service delivery providers, and academic institutions to position Alberta as a leader in digital health.


A world-leading artificial research institution, the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) bridges significant AI advancements with industry. Amii frequently collaborates with the healthcare sector and has applied machine learning to diagnose schizophrenia and diseases.

Alberta Precision Exchange

APEX acts as a not-for-profit that curates and moderates the agreements between independent partners operating in an IP-protected environment. These agreements allow Alberta’s emerging diagnostic technology to be translated from lab-bench idea to real-world tools with the full support of R&D experts, industry partners, clinicians, regulatory bodies, and health care delivery experts.

Alberta Health Services

Canada’s first and largest province-wide, fully-integrated healthcare system that serves a population of nearly 4.3 million patients. AHS is Canada’s only single-window health access system with a new $459M electronic health system, Connect Care, that integrates more than 1,300 information systems from 400 facilities across the province. With this advantage, Alberta is a global leader in Real World Evidence generation.

Health Cities

Health Cities works with clinicians, innovators, philanthropic organizations, and companies to develop new models of care to drive better health outcomes and economic growth in the health sector.


BioAlberta is a member-driven association that represents and promotes the province’s vibrant and diverse life sciences industry. They represent over 230 members, including industry researchers, suppliers, and producers.

Genome Alberta

Genome Alberta is a publicly funded not-for-profit corporation that initiates, funds and manages genomics research and partnerships. They strive to be the leading source of information and administration related to genomics, metabolomics, bioinformatics, and biotech research in Alberta.

The Institute of Health Economics (IHE)

A research hub for health economists, the IHE supports public policy decision makers and the health care industry by providing consistently provide relevant and impactful evidence that supports informed health system policy and investment decisions.

A Research and Development Hub

Alberta possesses a strong foundation for exploration and innovation

UAlberta Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology

A consortium of researchers aimed at understanding viruses and other pathogens, their respective disease pathogenesis, and host immune responses. The institution collaborates with over 65 international firms, agencies, and networks in over 20 different countries worldwide.

UAlberta Drug Development and Innovation Centre

A unique initiative of the Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Alberta to help bridge the gap between basic sciences and clinical research. The Centre’s purpose is to foster research and education in Pharmaceutical Sciences with a dedicated team working on translational research and development in the following areas: Biopharmaceutics, Drug Delivery, Quality Control, Regulatory Sciences.

UCalgary Life Sciences Innovation Hub

Located in University Research Park, the Life Sciences Innovation Hub is a centre for research excellence and innovation. The Hub is used by students, researchers, start-ups, and companies to interact, create, and explore new ideas and concepts, as well as provide dedicated wet lab office space for companies that are developing and growing.

Calgary Cancer Centre

The new Calgary Cancer Centre, co-located within the Foothills Medical Complex, the University teaching and research hospital, will be the largest comprehensive cancer care and research centre in Canada and second largest in North America when it opens in 2023.

Nanotechnology Research Centre

Operated by the National Research Council of Canada, the Nanotechnology Research Centre is designed to expand Canadian nanotechnology expertise, capacity and capability, and foster breakthrough research.

Calgary Centre for Clinical Research (CCCR)

The CCCR facilitates access to the university’s clinical research capacity for industry-sponsored research projects.

Northern Alberta Clinical Trials and Research Centre (NACTRC)

A collaboration between Alberta Health Services and the University of Alberta, the NACTRC supports investigators and researchers throughout the clinical trial process.

International Microbiome Centre (IMC)

The University of Calgary’s IMC is a translational research centre, designed to investigate the microbiome of humans, plants, animals and the physical environment. The IMC houses North America’s largest germ-free facility alongside world-renowned expertise in intravital imaging.

The Alberta Advantage

Alberta is home to a young, talented workforce and a business-friendly environment

High-ranking Programs

The University of Alberta and University of Calgary hold two of the top 150 Life Sciences programs globally.

Strong AI Ecosystem

Alberta is home to a number of AI and Machine Learning clusters, with institutions such as AMII and Quantum City being present.

Active Research Capabilities 

The Universities of Alberta and Calgary are ranked 2nd and 3rd overall respectively in Canada for number of active clinical trials.


Alberta has the youngest population of any province with an average age of 39.

CEIV Pharma Certified

Edmonton International Airport (EIA) is the first airport in Canada to be CEIV Pharma certified by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Low Tax Environment

With no provincial sales tax, no health premiums, and the lowest corporate income tax rate in Canada, Alberta possesses is a place that actively promotes and supports business and investment.

Alberta, only province in Canada with a province-wide EHR system

Alberta is the only province in Canada with a province-wide EHR system.

Areas of Focus

Real Evidence Generation

With a single healthcare provider and EHRs for all citizens, Alberta stands to be a leader in Real Evidence Generation, being able to provide access to a comprehensive and accurate dataset to firms in the sector.

AI/ML Ecosystem

Home to hundreds of top research and development institutions, Alberta is a prime place to explore and implement the future of digital health technologies.

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