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COVID-19 highlights Québec City’s thriving life sciences

Considered a nexus for innovative life sciences, Québec City’s expertise in medical technologies, including biopharmaceutics and diagnostics, continue to make global waves in the fight against COVID-19.

Powerful collaborations between the government and Université Laval facilitate researchers to develop state-of-the-art medical solutions, particularly in the areas of diagnostics, vaccinations, medicine and medical equipment. 

“In this dynamic city, research and business innovations go hand in hand, and this has never been more evident than during the COVID-19 pandemic, with life science companies utilizing new technologies to create safe vaccines and patient treatments,” says Jocelyn Guertin, Sales Manager on the International Market at the Québec City Convention Centre.  


New generation vaccines 

Québec City-based Medicago is on track to produce Canada’s first home-grown COVID-19 vaccine after successfully producing Virus-Like-Particles (VLP) of the coronavirus in just 20 days.  

Natalie Landry, Executive Vice-President for Science and Medical Affairs for Medicago, said the vaccine produces 10 times the antibodies seen in people who have had COVID-19, with Phase 3 trials already underway in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.  

“Our mission is to create and deliver effective responses to emerging global health challenges as a leader in plant-based vaccine technology,” says Landry. “There’s no doubt that responding effectively to the pandemic will require the efforts of vaccine developers around the world.” 

In addition to dynamic life science companies, Québec City is home to innovative not-for-profit organisations whose vision is to provide sustained healthcare in times of crisis. 

Founded by Gary Kobinger, a member of Québec City’s Ambassadors’ Club, Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Research Centre on Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Medicine at Université Laval, GuardRX is a team of research and clinical development experts working to make sure that potentially life-saving drugs and vaccines against infectious diseases are available to those in need, in their time of need. 

In addition to developing diagnostic services and protecting remote communities, GuardRX is dedicated to producing and stockpiling drugs that big pharmaceutical companies are not interested in due to their lack of commercial market – and then making these drugs available in emergency situations for the betterment of global health.  

The Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec (CHUQ), a network of three teaching hospitals affiliated with the medical school of the Université Laval, is producing a new generation of vaccine to fight COVID-19, featuring nanoparticle technology with the ability to stimulate a powerful immune response.  

“The beauty of this technology is that only small, harmless pieces of the virus are used to make the vaccine,” says Denis Leclerc, Professor in the Department of Microbiology-Infectiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval. “The nanoparticles present the COVID-19 protein to the immune system in an optimal way, inducing a protective immune response. 

“This incredible technology was developed entirely at the CHU de Québec and is based on more than 15 years of research in my laboratory.” 

In addition to vaccinations and advanced medical treatments, health-technology innovators in Québec are responding to the pandemic with creative technologies, from GRB Technologies’ antimicrobial elevator buttons, to Icentia’s home-delivered CardioSTAT ambulatory ECG tests, successfully reducing the workload in hospitals and eliminating the risk of the virus spreading.  

“Québec City is a truly exciting hub of academics, researchers, technicians, entrepreneurs and businesses across all fields of health technology,” says Guertin, who assists members of Québec City’s Ambassadors’ Club to attract and hold life science events in Québec. 

“As an incubator for life science technologies, the city regularly plays host to major life science domestic and international business events and conferences.” 

Tapping into bright minds 

Business events organizers are spoilt for choice when it comes to sourcing expert speakers, facility tours and off-site venues, with the city’s European charm, warm hospitality and rich culture contributing to unforgettable events and conferences.  

“Québec City is playing host to the International Society for Vaccines 2022 Annual Congress, the Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology Annual Scientific Meeting 2022 and the Canadian Dermatology Association Annual Conference 2022, to name a few,” says Guertin. 

“These major meetings and conferences allow us to showcase Québec City’s significant expertise in biopharmaceuticals and medical technologies to the world.” 

Event delegates appreciate the exciting ambiance of a city where researchers, governments, businesses and entrepreneurs collaborate to pioneer revolutionary technology in the fields of life sciences. 

Steeped in 400 years of history, epicurean delights, and four-seasons outdoor adventures, Québec City boasts an abundance of experiences ideal for team building and incentive rewards, as well as unparalleled after-hours entertainment.  

“Lovers of history will feel themselves transported to another era as they stroll around the only fortified city north of Mexico, while culture buffs will enjoy soaking up the locals’ joie de vivre and French heritage – without needing to worry about language barriers,” says Régis Fleury, Account Manager for Québec City Business Destination. 

Québec City’s outdoor recreation revitalizes delegates with everything from canyoneering, biking and via ferrata in summer, to dogsledding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in winter.  

“Business events and incentive program organizers can easily incorporate outdoor activities, cultural immersions and off-site tours in progressive life science facilities and research centres, for an engaging, experiential program.”  

Easy access 

Québec City is easily accessible by major Northeastern US airports, as well as by rail and road. Just 2.5 hours from Montréal, and a short flight from Toronto and New York, meeting attendees will discover a destination with European appeal right here in North America.  

Meetings with purpose 

By augmenting speakers’ series with life sciences experts and enriching programming with localized tours and cultural experiences, business event organizers can attract delegates, increase revenues, and inspire future generations.  

“We call that 'meeting with purpose,” says Guertin, pointing out that when the time is right for in-person events to resume, Québec City is poised to show off its life sciences ecosystems and the industry leaders who are pioneering health technologies to benefit the world’s population.    

Plan your meeting in Québec City here.

Discover more about Canada’s life sciences events here.