June 20, 2003
(Industry, Trade and Rural Development)


Atlantic Canada biotechnology sector takes international stage

Gerry Byrne, Minister of State for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA), and Judy Foote, Minister of Industry, Trade and Rural Development for Newfoundland and Labrador, today announced $235,400 in funding to enable Atlantic Canadian organizations to participate in BIO 2003, from June 22-25, 2003 in Washington, D.C. Assistance is being provided through the Canada/Atlantic Provinces COOPERATION Agreement on International Business Development (IBDA).

Organizers are calling BIO 2003 (Biotechnology Industry Organization) the largest, most comprehensive conference and exhibition in the history of biotechnology, attracting close to 20,000 biotechnology executives, politicians, scientists, and reporters from more than 20 countries.

The event will take place at the newly opened Washington Convention Centre in a city that is home to the second-largest cluster in ICT and the third-largest cluster in biotechnology in the United States.

"ACOA�s efforts to help diversify the Atlantic Canadian economy includes a focus on a number of key growth sectors," said Minister Byrne. "The biotechnology sector represents one of those leading international economic sectors, and as such, we need to be where the industry leaders are and to participate where discussions for the future of the industry are being held."

The biotechnology sector employed more than 162,000 worldwide in 2000, up from 79,000 in 1993, while market capitalization for biotechnology firms increased from $39 billion to $353 billion in the same time period. It is one of the key sectors targeted in the IBDA�s trade strategies for Atlantic Canada.

"With each passing year, new strengths, capabilities and opportunities emerge in our biotechnology sector, which translates into a provincial economy that is stronger and more diversified than it has ever been," said Minister Foote. "Support for advanced technology industries, such as the biotech sector, and continued cooperation with industry leaders, are key commitments of this government�s Renewal Strategy for Jobs and Growth. Our support for BIO 2003 is a prime example of how we are doing that."

While Canada as a whole boasts the second largest biotechnology industry in the world, Atlantic Canada�s biotechnology sector is diversified, well supported by research and development organizations, and undergoing dramatic growth. Projections for 2002 forecast an increase in revenues of almost 70 per cent over 1999.

The major areas of activity in Atlantic Canada�s biotechnology industry are as follows: industrial and urban processing; agriculture, aquaculture and horticultural biotechnology; pharmaceutical and biomedical; instrumentation and agrifood biotechnology.

The IBDA is designed to increase exporting in Atlantic Canada by funding projects that help small- and medium-sized companies explore, enter and succeed in international markets.

First signed in May 1994, the $13-million agreement involves three federal departments � the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Industry Canada and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade as well as the four Atlantic Canadian provincial governments: Nova Scotia Business Inc., Business New Brunswick, PEI Business Development and the Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Trade, Technology and Rural Development. ACOA provides 70 per cent of the funding while the provincial governments provide the remaining 30 per cent.

Media contact:

Rachel Sullivan
Office of the Minister of State
Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency
(613) 941-7241

Tansy Mundon
Director of Communications
Industry, Trade and Rural Development
(709) 729-4570

Gilles Allain
Senior Communications Officer
ACOA Head Office
(506) 851-2509

2003 06 20                                      11:30 a.m.

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