National Biotechnology Week Kicks off in Prince Edward Island Marking 10 Years of PEI Momentum

CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island--()--As the PEI BioAlliance celebrates ten years of operation this year, BIOTECanada kicked off its annual National Biotechnology Week celebrations in Charlottetown at a special anniversary event to showcase PEI’s Bioscience Cluster.

The Anniversary celebration featured local biotechnology company exhibits, a special presentation by BIOTECanada, the release of Turning Size to Competitive Advantage – The PEI BioAlliance story, and the recognition of seven Pioneers of Prince Edward Island’s Bioscience Industry.

Honourable Heath MacDonald, Minister of Economic Development and Tourism delivered remarks as he declared October 30 – November 6 Biotechnology Week in Prince Edward Island.

“The Government of Prince Edward Island recognizes the importance and impact PEI’s Biotechnology Industry has to the economic growth of this province,” said Minister of Economic Development and Tourism Heath MacDonald. “The province is committed to increasing key industry exports and research capacity which directly aligns with the work and goals of the BioAlliance and its members. I offer sincere congratulations to the Bio-Alliance for all it has done to grow the industry over the last decade.”

Recognition awards were presented to Pioneers of PEI’s Biotechnology Industry, including: Visionary Islander Robert Paterson; Dr. Regis Duffy, Founder of Diagnostic Chemicals and BioVectra; Dr. Don Ridley, Mentor in Residence, PEI BioAlliance; former UPEI President (current Premier of PEI) Honourable Wade MacLauchlan, former President, UPEI; Honourable Patrick Binns, former PEI Premier; the late Rory Beck, former Vice President, ACOA PEI; and Rory Francis, Executive Director, PEI BioAlliance.

Dr. Russ Kerr, Chair of the BioAlliance said this was an appropriate time to recognize some of the key individuals that really helped shape PEI’s biotechnology industry – those who put the foundation in place – providing the necessary tools and momentum to move this industry beyond individual research and a handful of companies to what it is today and for the future.

“We are very proud to recognize these key individuals for their hard work and dedication, and for providing the basis from which we’ve been able to leverage support for our industry. We’ve come a long way in just ten years, and as we work on a new multi-year strategy for the next-stage of growth, we believe that with the right private/public investment, PEI’s bioscience industry could be providing up to 1500 jobs and generating $400 million in annual revenues by 2020,” said Kerr.

Andrew Casey, President & CEO of BIOTECanada joined the PEI Bioscience Cluster to officially kick off National Biotechnology Week 2015 in Charlottetown and to speak about PEI’s role in the larger Canadian biotech landscape.

“People and partnerships are core strengths for the Canadian biotechnology industry ecosystem, with regional clusters found in each of the provinces across the country it is a truly national industry. PEI BioAlliance exemplifies collaboration bringing together academic researchers, clinicians, entrepreneurs, SMEs, angel investors, venture capitalists, and governments,” commented Andrew Casey, President and CEO of BIOTECanada.

National Biotechnology Week takes place October 30 – November 6 across the Country, highlighting research, celebrating business successes, and engaging students, government and the public on the important role biotechnology plays in Canada.

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PEI Bioscience Cluster Pioneer Recipients:

Robert Paterson worked with government agencies, non-for-profits, and private businesses from 1995 – 2012 - mentoring young entrepreneurs, he dedicated his time pointing Prince Edward Island to the future. From a quiet ‘behind the scenes’ position, and through his persuasive writing, Rob seeded policy concepts in agriculture, environment, health, early childhood development and economic development that today continue in organizations like CHANCES, Food Island Partnership, and the PEI BioAlliance. Rob was one of a small group who in 1998 established the Belvedere Life Science Research Group - predecessor of the PEI BioAlliance.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan became President of the University of Prince Edward Island in 1999 and continued in that role until 2011. Early in his tenure, he connected with the Belvedere Group, and saw the potential for the development of a life science sector in PEI. He became a leading champion of the vision, lobbying forcefully and successfully, along with others, for the establishment of a National Research Council presence in Prince Edward Island. Premier MacLauchlan championed key infrastructure initiatives at the UPEI School of Business and expanded research capacity at UPEI and the Atlantic Veterinary College, adding new Research Chairs in various faculties, and increasing UPEI’s ability to successfully compete for national and international research funding. Together, these initiatives along with several at Holland College have provided the science, technology, and human resource development foundation for the PEI Bioscience Cluster.

Dr. Don Ridley first came to Prince Edward Island in 2002 as part of the Advisory Committee that established the Road Map for the National Research Council’s scientific focus on Bioactives for Health. Dr. Ridley and his wife Bev moved to PEI in 2006 and he’s become a highly valued member of the BioAlliance team, bringing his wealth of knowledge and experience in chemistry, pharmaceutical product development and commercialization, regulatory strategy, and business strategy to his work with Cluster businesses and research organizations. He has added immeasurably to the technical credibility of PEI’s Bioscience Cluster and his high standards have set an important bar for companies and colleagues to aspire to. Dr. Ridley is currently Mentor-in-Residence for the BioAlliance’s Emergence Incubator program.

The late Rory Beck was Vice President of ACOA PEI from 1996 to 2007, a time when a number of important new policy initiatives were being developed by ACOA. The Atlantic Innovation Fund (commonly known as the AIF) was and is an enlightened piece of public policy supporting the commercialization of new technologies. The AIF has been in many ways another foundational key to the early development of the PEI Cluster. PEI’s ACOA team became a regional power in assisting business and academic proponents to develop winning proposals. Mr. Beck was one of the champions behind the NRC’s establishment in PEI, as well as the development of the BioAlliance. He was a founding member of the Board of the BioAlliance.

The Honourable Patrick Binns was Premier of PEI for three terms, from 1996 to 2007. Premier Binns, a strong supporter of rural communities, recognized that the economic landscape of the province needed to change. Early in his leadership, he led the province’s first economic strategy that openly recognized the need for more emphasis on research and development, higher value export products, and the knowledge economy. While ‘biotechnology’ was a word used cautiously in public even after 2000, Premier Binns worked hard to bring the NRC to PEI. His government provided crucial capital funding to help make the Duffy Research Centre, current home of the NRC, a reality. He supported the creation of the PEI BioAlliance and was the first Premier to declare National Biotech Week in PEI.

Dr. Regis Duffy is considered no less than the ‘Godfather’ of the PEI Bioscience Sector. From 1970 to 2001, Diagnostic Chemicals was a small business focused on reagents and diagnostic kits. Diagnostic Chemicals was the progenitor of what are now the two largest bioscience businesses in PEI, BioVectra and Sekisui. As Chair of the Board of Governors of UPEI from 1996 to 2006, Regis helped lay the foundation for enhanced R&D capacity, the growth of the AVC, and the establishment of the NRC’s Institute for Nutrisciences and Health on the UPEI Campus, in a building that now bears the names of Regis and his wife Joan. Dr. Duffy was the founding Chair of the Board of the BioAlliance. Dr. Duffy continues to contribute to the Cluster as an investor, mentor, and valued advisor.

Rory Francis has been at the forefront of transformative changes in several public sector organizations encompassing economic and social policy, programs and services over the past 30 plus years. A native of Prince Edward Island, he’s held Deputy Minister positions in several provincial government departments, including Environment; Agriculture and Forestry; Fisheries and Aquaculture; and Health and Social Services. As Deputy Minister of Agriculture, he and a few conspirators established the Belvedere Life Science Research Group, the predecessor of the PEI Bioscience Cluster. He’s been Executive Director of the Prince Edward Island BioAlliance since its inception in 2004. And in this role, he’s facilitated the growth and development of PEI’s emerging bioscience cluster, by working tirelessly with industry, the research community, and government partners to establish the next generation of the Prince Edward Island economy. With an understanding that Prince Edward Island’s Bioscience sector requires external awareness, buy-in, and expertise to perform on the global stage, Mr. Francis has focused much of his attention to develop and build international relationships, attracting people and investments to PEI.


PEI BioAlliance
Rose FitzPatrick, 902-368-1617/902-393-0306


PEI BioAlliance
Rose FitzPatrick, 902-368-1617/902-393-0306