B.C. biotech industry needs 16,000 workers, forum hears
A biotechnology forum hosted by Stuart McNish and Conversations that Matter on Tuesday heard 16,000 additional workers are needed for Metro Vancouver's biotech industry by 2030.
The forum includes Suzanne Gill, president and CEO of Genome B.C.; Andrew Booth, chief financial officer at AbCellera (a Vancouver biotechnology company that helped produce the first antibody drug approved to treat COVID -19); Allen Eaves, president and CEO of Stemcell Technologies; Brenda Bailey, B.C. minister of jobs, economic development and innovation; Darryl Knight, president of Providence Research and Wendy Hurlburt, president and CEO of Life Sciences B.C.
Bailey said the province's recently released life sciences and biomanufacturing strategy found the local biotech industry and its 18,0000 workers were “punching above” their weight. Based on growth projections, it's estimated the sector needs another 16,000 workers over the next six years.
She said the provincial and federal governments had funded a national biotech training centre and that government wanted to do more to attract biotech workers and retain local scientists.
Eaves suggested opening another school of medicine in B.C. to attract researchers, with those workers ultimately fuelling research crucial to the local biotech centre.
The forum compared B.C. to Ireland, which has been working on its biotech since the 1970s and is now a major international drug maker. Ireland has far fewer companies than B.C.'s 1,200, but employs more workers and has a much larger economic footprint.