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R&D spending from life sciences companies in Calgary is expected to grow by 49% in health and biotechnology and pharmaceuticals in 2018.


It is predicted that the majority of the global population will be impacted by health issues related to chronic disease and brain and mental health in the future. Calgary is home to leading researchers and more than 60 companies in these areas, putting it in a unique position to address these global health issues.

Leading-edge life sciences research & clinical trials

Significant opportunity exists for Calgary to leverage its research assets to work with international life sciences companies to support the growing ecosystem in the city. The University of Calgary provides companies with a unique opportunity to access leading-edge life sciences research. 

Tom Baker Cancer Centre 
The Tom Baker Cancer Centre is Alberta’s leading cancer centre in innovative cancer research, prevention, treatment and care initiatives. This facility will be the largest cancer research centre in Canada by 2024 - providing state of the art research in precision oncology and emerging technology.

International Microbiome Centre
The Microbiome Centre at the University of Calgary is leading the way in microbiome research through the use of Canada’s largest germ-free facility, real-time imaging and droid robotics.

Calgary Centre for Clinical Research (CCCR)
The Cumming School of Medicine and Alberta Health Services fund high impact clinical studies that improve health or influence clinical practice and healthcare delivery in order to improve Alberta’s health system and the health of Albertans.

Ward of the 21st Century (W21C)
W21C is a Canadian research and innovation initiative based in the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services (AHS). W21C is a beta test site for new technologies, prototypical hospital design, novel approaches to health care delivery, and human factors research. With their ‘Living Laboratory’- the only one of its kind in Canada - located within an acute care hospital (Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre), W21C researchers identify challenges in the health system, and solve problems right at the front lines of patient care. W21C’s primary aim is to Make Care Better through research focused on improving patient safety and the quality of health systems delivery.

Libin Cardiovascular Institute
This institute at the University of Calgary supports and coordinates all cardiovascular science research, education and patient care for a population of 2 million people in southern Alberta, Saskatchewan and eastern British Columbia.

Brain and Mental Health
An initiative at the Cumming School of Medicine at the University of Calgary uses the clot-busting drug tPA to reduce stroke treatment time from 70 minutes to 36 minutes. This time is among the fastest in the world for stroke treatment centres.

Clinical Trials
More than 180 clinical trials are completed per year in Alberta. Of these clinical trials, over 70% of studies are drug-related. In addition, biological and medical device clinical trials are showing growth in Calgary.

Digital health

Alberta Health Services (AHS) is Canada’s first and largest province-wide, fully-integrated health system, responsible for delivering health services to over four million people.

AHS is leading the way when it comes to digital health. Alberta became the first province to institute a province-wide electronic health record system. In 2017, AHS signed a deal for a new eHealth System. The Clinical Information System (CIS) will offer healthcare providers one central access point to patient information, common clinical standards and best healthcare practices. Patients will also be able to access their personal health plan and test results online, book appointments electronically and interact directly with their healthcare team through secure messaging.   

Funding & financing sources

Alberta Innovates – invests millions of dollars a year in health research and innovation spanning activity from the lab to the bedside to the community.  

Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute (ACHRI) – encourages its members to obtain external grant funding and offers various complementary funding opportunities.

Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) – supports university students in their advanced studies, promotes and supports discovery research, and fosters innovation by encouraging Canadian companies to participate and invest in post secondary research projects.

NRC IRAP Concierge Service – provides a single access point where SME’s can find advice to help them innovate and accelerate their growth

Scientific Research & Experimental Development Tax Incentive Program (SR&ED) – provides tax incentives for applied research and experimental development for the purpose of achieving technological advancement.

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