WINDSOR, N.S. — More bioscience jobs are coming to Windsor, following an investment from the federal government into Charlottetown-based BioVectra.
During a funding announcement at the BioVectra facility in the Windsor Industrial Park on April 12, company executives said they would use the funding boost to complete major renovations and purchase new equipment.
An estimated 60 people could be employed at the facility by 2020, once all of the upgrades are completed.
The enhancements will allow the company to increase its capacity to develop and manufacture biologic drug substances for global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
These materials are used in the creation of products to treat cancer, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, arthritis, and other serious illnesses.
The $5 million loan was announced by Scott Brison, the secretary of the Treasury Board and Member of Parliament for Kings-Hants, on behalf of the Honourable Navdeep Bains, the minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
Brison said the investment in BioVectra would help the Windsor area and the province become a centre of the biosciences sector.
“With our universities and our research capacity here, our healthcare system, there are a lot of synergies in Nova Scotia,” Brison said following the announcement.
“Windsor is situated between Acadia University and Dalhousie University, it’s about a 40-minute drive to the Halifax International Airport and it is developing as a real centre for biosciences.”
Brison referenced another company that is already operating in the Windsor area, BioMedica Diagnostics, as an example of the industry hitting critical mass.
“I believe this is just the beginning,” he said.
“The $5 million repayable loan to BioVectra… is not just an investment in BioVectra and the creation of jobs here in Windsor, although that in itself is important,” he said. “It’s an investment in the future of biosciences in Windsor and Hants County.”
Brison said BioVectra’s three other facilities, located in Charlottetown, where the company is based, are already at maximum capacity.
The Windsor location, at more than 50,000 square feet, is expected to expand BioVectra’s capacity by 40 per cent.
Heather Delage, general manager of the Windsor site, said there are currently 25 employees working there, with staffing levels expected to climb to more than 40 by the end of 2018.
She said staff numbers could reach or go beyond 60 before 2020, depending on upgrade timelines and market conditions.
The company currently employs approximately 300 people in Atlantic Canada.
Delage said most positions will require highly skilled and highly educated staff with a bioscience, biochemistry background.
“Down the line there are additional rooms and spaces in this footprint that would allow us to look at adding alternative scales of process equipment or additional process development,” Delage said. “We do have additional, adjacent land that we could use if we were required to expand our footprint.”
She said that the first products they produce from the upgraded facility will be ready by the fall of 2018.
President of BioVectra, Oliver Technow, said the products they’ll produce from the Windsor facility will be highly sought after in the global pharmaceutical and biotech industry.
“We consider this kind of our first step at this facility in Windsor,” Technow said. “This speaks to the immediate needs of our clients in the global marketspace, but also from a long-term perspective, we continue to explore opportunities to build on what we create here and grow.”
When asked why BioVectra expanded its operations in Windsor, rather than in P.E.I. or at another location, Technow said it was partly about accessing a wider pool of talent from Nova Scotia.
“I hope that Nova Scotia can turn into the powerhouse in bioscience and healthcare that (I know) it can,” Technow said.