UPEI Key Player in Prince Edward Island BioAlliance
The first meeting of the founding board of the Prince Edward Island BioAlliance was held recently in Charlottetown. The BioAlliance is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to building the PEI economy through bioscience products and services. It brings together local bioscience-based businesses, research and academic organizations, and government agencies to create the right conditions for job creation, retention and economic growth. Rory Francis is Executive Director The Chair is Dr. Regis Duffy. UPEI is represented on the board by President Wade MacLauchlan.
"Research excellence in the biosciences and the availability of skilled human resources are crucial to our success in this area," said President MacLauchlan. "That's why we have been expanding our research facilities, hiring great scientists and emphasizing student retention." The value of research and development at UPEI has increased by 450% over the past five years, with a leading role played by researchers in the bioscience area.
"This is Prince Edward Island's bridge to the new economy," said Rory Francis. "We all recognize the limits of our natural resource base to further expand our economy. We're an Island, after all. Now it's time to work with the limitless opportunity in really understanding natural biological processes and, from that, develop new products that improve health and quality of life."
Products being produced by PEI's biotech businesses range from pharmaceutical ingredients used in the treatment of diseases, to replacements for antibiotics in animal feeds, fish health vaccines, nutraceuticals and non-pharma health products. Taxol, extracted from Ground Hemlock, is used in one of the world's most important cancer treatments.
Dr. Regis Duffy, founder of DCL BioVectra,and Chair of the UPEI Board of Governors, said that the application of new technologies of biological systems are solving problems and creating new business opportunities in human and animal health care, nutrition, food safety and environmental protection around the world.
"We have a choice in PEI: to be the providers of scientific expertise and new products for these markets, or to purchase them from others at a net cost to our economy," he said. "If we aren't active participants in developing these new technologies and products, we'll be like PEI at the end of our prosperous shipbuilding era: we can pretend steamships haven't been invented, but not for long."
The Canadian bio-based economy is the second largest in the world, with revenues of $4 billion, currently growing at 15% annually. Already, PEI has 15 companies, with sales of over $60 million per year and over 400 employees. This does not include the bioscience-related jobs and economic impact at research and academic institutions like the new NRC Institute for Nutrisciences and Health, the Food Technology Centre, UPEI's Science Faculty and Atlantic Veterinary College, and Agriculture and Agrifood Canada's research facilities.
Other BioAlliance Board members include Alan Andreason (Fortius), Garth Greenham (Aquahealth-Novartis), Shane Patelakis (Progressive BioActives), Pete Desai (Desai and Desai Inc), Brian MacMillan (Holland College), Michael O'Brien (Development and Technology), Joan Kean-Howie (National Research Council), and Manon Proulx (Agriculture and Agrifood Canada).
Over the next several months, the Prince Edward Island BioAlliance will work to identify and implement some of the key initiatives necessary to ensure the growth and development of the bio-economy in Prince Edward Island.