Life Sciences

130 Companies

6,000+ Employees

Ottawa’s life sciences sector has emerged into the global market as a center of discovery, development and commercialization. Headquarters to Canada’s federal government, including departments directly responsible for health regulation, protection, promotion and research funding, the city provides an ideal base for innovation support. With a strong combination of academic research, centers of excellences, access to world leading hospitals and industry, the nation’s capital provides a lucrative environment for leading-edge products, technologies and innovations.

Ottawa research hospitals provide a strong base for research and development (R&D) in the region. In fact, out of forty top Canadian hospital research institutions, five are in Ottawa. Combined, their research spending reached $180 Million for 2015. Additionally,the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (OHRI) is Canada’s largest cardiovascular research centre and ranks in the top 3% of worldwide research institutions based on the quality and impact of their scientific publications. Continuing Ottawa’s long-standing history of innovation and entrepreneurship, the Ottawa Hospital has produced 7 spin-off companies and 6 world leading clinical trials from 2015-2016.

With world-leading medical discoveries, Ottawa has become home to two national life science Networks of Centres of Excellence (NCE)  all active in supporting large-scale, academic-led research programs to accelerate R&D and commercialization. They include:

  • The Stem Cell Network, Canada’s premier research organization dedicated to enabling the translation of stem cell research into clinical applications, commercial products and public policy
  • Biotherapeutics for Cancer Treatment (BioCanRx), pan-Canadian network of expertise and infrastructure for the development, manufacture and clinical testing of new personalized biotherapeutics that hold the promise of being more effective, affordable and safe than conventional cancer therapies

Holistically, Ottawa’s life science landscape encompasses strong R&D capabilities and companies of every size with expertise in Health IT, mHealth, eHealth and Medical Devices. A sample of industry leaders in Ottawa include; Nordion, DNA Genotek, and Best Theratronics.

Examples of Ottawa Life Science Brilliance:

Over the past eleven years, Spartan Bioscience, in collaboration with Ottawa’s photonics and handheld technologies industries, has invented the world’s smallest DNA analyzer. The Spartan Cube can accurately self-diagnose a range of infections from strep throat to venereal diseases. This portable technology has a wide range of applications, including testing restaurant food for E. coli bacteria, determining which blood thinners can be used for stroke patients, and even checking for spoiled beer.

Based on research led by Dr. John Bell (from The Ottawa Hospital and uOttawa), Dr. Brian Lichty (from McMaster University) and Dr. David Stojdl (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and uOttawa), Turnstone Biologics was founded to advance the development of novel oncolytic viral immunotherapies for cancer. A testament to research led innovation, the company’s commercialization outcomes have garnered significant financial support from the investor community. In 2016, Turnstone secured the largest venture capital (VC) deal in Ottawa since 2013 and the second largest biotech VC deal in Canada for 2016. Since its creation in 2015, Turnstone has raised over CAD$65 million.

In 2005, a CHEO surgeon, a university professor, three research scientists, and one software developer founded Clearwater Clinical in Ottawa. Since that time, Clearwater has gone on to transform costly and outdated equipment used in hospitals across Canada. Among Clearwater’s leading-edge medical devices Clearscope, Modica app, Shoebox, and V-Strobe provide medical professionals the ability to securely capture, manage and share high quality patient information, streamlining medical efficiencies.

At the Ottawa Abbott Point of Care manufacturing plant, Abbott has pioneered the i-STAT System for performing rapid blood analysis at the patient’s bedside. This handheld technology can deliver lab quality results within minutes, which means that blood samples will not have to be sent off to the lab for testing. The i-STAT System’s applications have been deployed in  emergency departments, intensive care units, operating rooms, outpatient clinics, and physician offices.


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