Aiming high: Canadian biotech


Aiming high: Canadian biotech

In a global league, Canada’s biotech industry would be respectably mid table. LSIPR talks to Andrew Casey, president of industry association BIOTECanada, about how the organisation is trying to take it to the next level.

Canada’s economy was built on a vast and varied natural resource base. Today, agriculture, energy, mining and forestry still account for more than half of the country’s exports. While the balance of the economy is changing over time, away from the big traditional industries and towards other sectors, it is still the case that much of Canada’s wealth comes from its land or what grows on it.

For BIOTECanada, the industry association representing the country’s biotechnology industry, the challenge is promoting a different kind of natural resource. Andrew Casey, president of the association, describes the industry in Canada as “large and small companies trying to take good ideas to help other industries transform.”

The association has three main focuses: health, of course, and then industrial and agricultural. These last two play an important role in Canada’s economy, and Casey is keen to highlight some of the contributions made by biotechnology companies to those sectors. For example, one association member has developed a process to extract from mustard seeds a substance that can be used as jet fuel. Emissions are significantly reduced, and the by-product can be used for animal feed. Another example is a company that has developed an enzyme to “gobble up CO2 emissions from the oil and gas sector,” Casey says.

BIOTECanada, Andrew Casey, association focus, Canadian biotech