Key findings

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  • The number of innovative biotechnology firms grew to 532 in 2005 from 490 in 2003, an increase of 9%, according to new preliminary data from the Biotechnology Use and Development Survey. This was lower than the 31% increase between 2003 and 2001 when there were 375 firms. Between 2005 and 1997, when there were 282 firms, the compound annual growth rate has been 8%.

  • An innovative biotechnology firm is a firm that uses biotechnology for the purpose of developing new products or processes.

  • Combined, these 532 companies generated revenues of $4.2 billion in 2005. Their spending on research and development was $1.7 billion.

  • Large biotech companies, those with at least 150 employees, represented only 10% of the 532 biotech firms in 2005, but accounted for 67% of biotech revenues. Three-quarters of all companies were small firms, that is, they had fewer than 50 employees.

  • By contrast, biotechnology related R&D was more equally distributed between the three sizes of firms.

  • More than 70% of the innovative biotechnology firms were in three provinces: Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia. These provinces continue to comprise the bulk of Canadian biotechnology activity, accounting for more than 90% of biotechnology revenues in 2005.

  • Ontario firms led the way in biotechnology revenues, research and development expenditures and employment, whereas those in Quebec accounted for the largest share of biotechnology firms.

  • Biotechnology related to Human Health remained the most significant biotechnology sector in terms of number of firms, employment, R&D and revenues.

  • The number of employees with biotechnology responsibilities increased to 13,400 from about 11,900 in 2003.