MaRS Solutions LabThe Ontario Institute for Cancer Research's Drug Discovery Lab in the MaRS Centre

New and improved research and development centres help to retain and attract scientists from Canada and abroad as well as solidify Toronto's position as the centre of Canada and among one of the best in the world in the life sciences sector. Toronto's sector comprises pharmaceuticals; biotechnology; and medical research, devices, surgical supply and assistive technologies.

ExpandToronto's Life Sciences sector ranked among the best in the world

  • Canada is the second largest nation in the world for biotech with more than 583 companies (source BIOTECanada).
  • The Toronto/Ontario biotech cluster is the largest in Canada with 163 companies.
  • Nearly 50 global pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies have their Canadian headquarters in the Toronto region, including Amgen, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Teva (Source:  Toronto Region Research Alliance, December 2011).
  • Toronto is positioned in the middle of the newly formed Québec-Ontario Life Sciences Corridor - the second largest life sciences cluster in North America. The Corridor plays a major role in the advancement of life sciences discovery and its related commercialization.
  • More than 11,000 principal researchers and technicians operate out of the University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine, 37 research institutes and 9 teaching hospitals.
  • With eight universities and colleges, nine teaching hospitals and numerous private sector research facilities, Toronto offers a wide range of research and business development opportunities.
  • Annual public and private medical research investments exceed $1 billion.
  • Toronto's researchers rank with the very best in the world.

ExpandToronto's Discovery District

Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Discovery District is Canada's largest concentration of research institutes, business incubators, and business support services. The Discovery District spans 2.5 square kilometres – or 1.6 square miles –  making it the densest geographical centre for research in the world.

The District is home to over 7 million square feet of facilities including the University of Toronto and affiliated teaching and research hospitals, over 30 medical and related research centres and a mix of biomedical companies. These researchers have a world-class reputation for medical and technological breakthroughs in areas such as breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer's, and cystic fibrosis research.

ExpandCompleted infrastructure enhancements

In recent years many of Toronto's teaching hospitals and research institutes have built or their facilities for R&D. Significant investments include:

  • In November 2012, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre opened the doors to the 150,000-sq. ft. Centre for Research in Image-Guided Therapeutics (CeRIGT). The $160-million lab provides space for more than 300 research and clinical teams that are working in partnership with 30 leading biotechnology and other organizations to bring new devices and treatments to patients across the globe.
  • The Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute of St. Michael’s Hospital comprises the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre. The new facility, completed in 2011, houses classrooms, offices, laboratories, lounges, a library, simulation centre, retail space, and a 200-seat auditorium.
  • Sanofi Pasteur completed a $100-million, 165,000-sq. ft. expansion of its R&D facilities at the company's Connaught Campus in 2011. In total, Sanofi Pasteur has invested over $600 million in new manufacturing, research and distribution facilities since 2000.
  • York University's $70 million Life Sciences Centre was completed in 2011. This 160,000-sq. ft. building includes classrooms, laboratories and research space.
  • Sunnybrook Hospital completed a $200 million expansion project in 2010, creating Canada's largest and most comprehensive Breast Cancer Research Centre. The top floors of the reconfigured M Wing house research laboratories and core technology facilities for Sunnybrook Research Institute.
  • The unique organization structure of the Terrence Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research (Donnelly CCBR) facilitates the development of novel and exciting technologies in the areas of medicine, arts and science and applied science and engineering.
  • The Toronto Centre for Phenogenomics (TCP) is an 110,000 square foot, state-of-the-art research facility located in the heart of Toronto's Discovery district. It officially opened in 2007. TCP houses a range of imaging instruments, Canada's largest mouse colony and a cryobank, which together make it one of the top locations for studying mouse models of human disease.
  • The Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy building was completed in fall 2006. This 177,000-square foot facility houses classroom space for one of the largest pharmacy faculties in North America.

ExpandMajor ongoing infrastructure investments

  • The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) is constructing a $250 million campus devoted to research and treatment of central nervous system disorders. The campus which comprises three new buildings is expected to be completed in 2012.
  • The Hospital for Sick Children is constructing a 21-storey research tower in the Discovery District. The $400 million building to be completed in 2013 will be the new home for the almost 2,000 scientists and staff in the hospital's Research Institute.
  • The 1.6 million square foot Humber River Regional Hospital will be the first hospital in Canada to be designed and constructed as a fully digital facility. Construction on the $1.75 billion hospital will begin in 2012.
  • MaRS Phase II, a $350 million capital expansion, will add 900,000 square feet to this commercialization facility and more than double the size of the existing facilities. Focus will be on the convergence and commercialization of innovative technologies emerging from Toronto's Discovery District. Completion is scheduled for 2013.
  • Toronto Western Hospital is constructing a $165 million Krembil Discovery Centre; a 9-storey, 325,000 sq. ft. facility with 5 storeys of dedicated research space.
  • Women's College Hospital is making a $460 million investment to construct a new facility on their current site. The redeveloped hospital is targeting LEED certification and will replace all existing buildings and consolidate most hospital services into one location. Construction is underway with completion scheduled for 2016.


  • Toronto is home to 55% of Canada's pharmaceutical companies making the Toronto area the largest pharmaceutical cluster in the nation.
  • Ontario generates $8 billion in pharmaceutical revenue; Canadian pharma revenues total over $15 billion annually.
  • Of 17,000 pharmaceutical jobs in Canada, 11,000 are based in the Toronto area.
  • The industry re-invests over $1.1 billion annually in R&D in Canada of which Ontario is the largest recipient, receiving more than $500 million.
  • Significant investors in academic research and in small and emerging biotech companies.

ExpandMedical Devices

The Toronto region is a hub for medical devices and pharmaceuticals and is home to many head office locations for firms in this industry. Sixteen of the top 25 global medical device companies operate in the Toronto region, including Baxter, Siemens, Johnson & Johnson, GE Healthcare and Medtronic.

  • Over half of Canada's (approximately) 1,100 medical device companies are located in the Toronto area.
  • The Canadian medical device market size was over US$5.4 billion in 2010 (Source: Mergent. North America: Medical Equipment Sectors. Fort Mill: Mergent, Inc. March 2011).
  • The Canadian medical devices sector is 7th largest in the world. Ontario is largest medical devices producer in Canada - with annual sales over $2 billion. Ontario producers export approximately 90% of products made.
  • Largest device companies are subsidiaries of major international corporations. Majority of domestic companies are smaller providing high technology solutions with niche products i.e. medical imaging, patient monitoring systems and specialty diagnostic systems.

ExpandLSO – Life Sciences Ontario

LSO - Life Sciences Ontario is "the voice of the life sciences sector in Ontario". More than 400 members and 45 corporate members represent the biotech and bio-pharma industries, business service providers, the research community and government. This not-for-profit organization is engaged in networking, communications, business development, education, training, international and government relations, and corporate advocacy.

ExpandQuebec-Ontario Life Sciences Corridor

  • Life Sciences Ontario partnered with Biopolis Québec in June 2011 to create the Québec -Ontario Life Sciences Corridor spanning both provinces and provides new opportunities for investments in life sciences supported by the lowest business environment costs among the G7 countries. In addition, Québec and Ontario represents one of the most favourable tax environments in the world for innovation partnerships and is a leading jurisdiction for life sciences patents.
  • With the establishment of the Québec -Ontario Life Sciences Cluster, the provinces of Québec and Ontario have become one of the largest bio-clusters in the world, making this corridor the second largest in North America in terms of number of life sciences companies and brings a critical mass of:
    • More than 1,100 companies
    • 66 000 qualified people
    • 490 undergraduate and graduate programs in biological and biomedicine sciences
    • Produces the majority of Canadian sales and exports in life sciences
    • Access to the majority of Canadian venture capital.