Vancouver-based biotechnology firm AbCellera has received significant provincial and federal backing in support of plans for its new $701-million biotech campus.
Jointly announced today by Innovation, Science and Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne and British Columbia (BC) Premier David Eby, AbCellera will receive $300 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund. The funding will be used to upgrade existing facilities throughout Vancouver and to develop a “state-of-the-art” biotech campus featuring a preclinical antibody-development facility.
AbCellera will use the funds to create 400 new full-time positions and invest in R&D.
The Government of Canada will commit the lion’s share of the funds, with the province of BC contributing $75 million. The feds have made over $2.1 billion in funding commitments to Canada’s biomanufacturing and life sciences sectors since March 2020, including a prior $175.6 million contribution to AbCellera in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“In 2020, our government made a promise to Canadians that we would build back our life sciences ecosystem,” Minister Champagne said in a statement. “And today, we are once again delivering on that promise by partnering with AbCellera, a company at the cutting edge of technology. Its project will make sure that Canada is at the forefront of antibody drug development, while also strengthening our life sciences sector.”
Both levels of government reaffirmed their commitments to life sciences and biomanufacturing earlier this year as part of revised strategies to drive job growth and emergency preparedness.
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Founded in 2012, AbCellera has developed a drug-discovery platform that searches for and analyzes antibodies suitable for disease treatment or prevention. The company entered the national spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it developed two monoclonal antibody therapies to treat the virus. It claims these products have been used to treat more than 2.5 million patients.
In addition to building the new facilities, AbCellera will use the funds to create 400 new full-time positions and invest in research and development (R&D).
“This project, and the commitment to co-invest alongside the governments of Canada and British Columbia, is a major step towards building the capabilities in Canada to translate scientific breakthroughs into new medicines that will benefit patients here and around the world,” AbCellera founder and CEO Carl Hansen said.
Council of Canadian Innovators president Ben Bergen, who has recently shared pointed criticisms of the federal government’s innovation strategy, offered praise for the announcement on LinkedIn.
“This is exactly what we want to see,” he said. “Canadian governments supporting domestic companies to grow & create wealth for our economy. This is a prosperity strategy that leads to higher GDP per capita!”
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