As part of the government’s commitment to grow Alberta’s and Canada’s vaccine capacity, government is providing up to $81.2 million to fund four proposals for vaccine development and manufacturing. This will help in the fight against COVID-19 and future infectious disease outbreaks while growing Alberta’s pharmaceutical and life sciences sector.

After an independent third-party review, the government selected four proposals:

  • University of Alberta
  • Entos Pharmaceuticals
  • Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation
  • Northern RNA

“The COVID-19 pandemic showed us how important it is to have the capacity to develop and manufacture vaccines at home. These investments will help build not just vaccines but also an industry that will protect and benefit Albertans for years to come. This sector provides a significant number of high-quality, high-paying jobs and supports other sectors in Alberta, including agriculture, manufacturing, petrochemicals and research.”

Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation

“The province continues to work to safeguard the health of Albertans with this new initiative to develop vaccines right here in Alberta. We have seen first-hand how vaccines can be game-changers when it comes to public health and protection, and I have no doubt this is a valuable area to invest in for the future of Albertans’ health.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Health

“This work with the University of Alberta is a real step forward in meeting the goals of Alberta 2030. This 10-year strategy outlines how important it is to invest in research. This funding will improve the university’s research ability and help ensure our province is ready to fight future pandemics, keeping Albertans safe.”

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education

“This historic $55.1-million grant from the Government of Alberta is visionary and game-changing for the University of Alberta and our province. One of the largest research grants we have ever received, it builds on decades of world-leading virology and immunology research at our university. This major new investment will both deepen our capacity to solve some of today’s most pressing health challenges, and position our province to become a global hub for biomanufacturing.”

Bill Flanagan, president & vice-chancellor, University of Alberta

“The U of A is already home to world-renowned researchers in fields like virology and immunology. This new funding ensures that we have the tools and talent to be a global leader in producing vaccines and therapeutics and that Alberta can capitalize on economic opportunities in the biomanufacturing sector.”

Aminah Robinson Fayek, vice-president (research and innovation), University of Alberta

“Pandemic preparedness requires a sustainable research effort, innovative ideas, and cutting-edge technologies. This grant from the Government of Alberta enables high-quality vaccine and therapeutics research that covers the entire spectrum from early discoveries to the manufacturing of medical countermeasures.”

Matthias Götte, professor and chair, medical microbiology & immunology department, University of Alberta

“The University of Alberta has been building its infrastructure and expertise in virology and immunology over the years, which allowed us to be well-positioned to respond to the Government of Alberta’s call to grow Alberta’s vaccine and therapeutics capacity. This historic grant will ensure our access to state-of-the-art facilities that will keep us internationally competitive and enhance our ability to attract high-quality trainees and leading scientists to fight viral diseases. We are very appreciative of this support from the Government of Alberta.”

Dr. D. Lorne Tyrrell, founding director, Li Ka Shing Institute of Virology, and distinguished professor, department of medical microbiology and immunology, University of Alberta

“As the headlines over the past week have shown, the pandemic is fast-moving, and the life sciences industry in Alberta, and Canada more generally, has no choice but to keep up. By providing funding for Entos’ planned commercial manufacturing facility in Edmonton, the Alberta government is backing an innovative project that will manufacture vaccines – such as our COVID-19 vaccine candidate currently in Phase 2 trials – as well as future genetic medicines. We’re grateful to the provincial government for supporting homegrown innovation that can ensure safety and well-being for Albertans, Canadians, and society overall.”

John Lewis, founder and CEO, Entos Pharmaceuticals

“We are thrilled to receive funding from the Government of Alberta to establish pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity in our province. This investment will be used to fund part of the Canadian Critical Drug Initiative (CCDI), the first-of-its-kind integrated research, commercialization and manufacturing cluster that will produce critical drugs needed urgently by Canadians. Importantly, this support unlocks a critical talent pipeline for life science graduates in Canada. The growth of the life sciences sector will be a critical economic driver and Alberta has a decisive role to play. We see this as being a key component of our ability to create meaningful jobs, ensure that we have the critical capacity to address pandemics, and play an ever stronger role in a growing sector.”

 Andrew MacIsaac, CEO, Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation

“Northern RNA would like to thank the Government of Alberta for their support in expanding Alberta’s vaccine industry. With this announcement, we will continue to seek support from the Government of Canada and other partners to complete our proposed lipid manufacturing facility, a facility that will look to address a strategic gap in the global vaccine supply chain. Northern RNA and its staff are proud to be a part of Alberta’s Life Sciences and Pharmaceutical sector. Together we can develop and manufacture made-in-Alberta vaccine solutions that support job creation and helps play an integral role in diversifying Alberta’s economy.”

Brad Stevens, president and CEO, Northern RNA

Alberta’s government has committed up to $55.1 million to the University of Alberta to support four key projects. These projects include:

  • Vaccine portfolio development
  • Alberta Cell Therapy Manufacturing
  • Biosafety Level 3 Lab
  • Structural Biology Facility with CryoEMs

The University of Alberta proposal will address vaccines but also the broader pharmaceutical and life sciences industry. A strong pharmaceutical and life sciences industry will attract investment, encourage the growth of spinoff industries and create jobs in Alberta.

Jobs, Economy and Innovation will work with the University of Alberta to secure funding for this proposal from the $2.2 billion committed to support biomanufacturing by the federal government. Total provincial government funding will depend on the level of funding provided by the federal government.

Alberta’s government is also committing to fund 10 per cent of the following proposals, contingent on the companies receiving financial support from the federal government or private funding. Alberta will provide:

  • $15.5 million to Entos Pharmaceuticals to establish a commercial manufacturing facility in Edmonton.
  • $5.6 million to Applied Pharmaceutical Innovation to build an integrated research, commercialization and manufacturing cluster to ensure security of supply of critical medicines at commercial volumes.
  • $5 million to Northern RNA help build the RNA ecosystem in Alberta.

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s pharmaceutical and life sciences industry is the fourth largest in Canada, next to Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
  • Alberta has more than 200 life sciences companies – 60 per cent of which are in the medical technology and devices, health biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors.
  • In 2019 alone, Alberta’s pharmaceutical and life sciences industry attracted $430 million in private capital investment, generated $824 million in revenue and supported more than 15,000 high-paying jobs.
  • Worldwide revenues for the pharmaceutical and therapeutics sector reached $1.25 trillion in 2019 and are projected to grow to $1.5 trillion by 2023.