Edmonton champions the ‘omics’ of life sciences innovations
From metabolomics to genomics, Edmonton’s dynamic life sciences industry is evolving into a global leader in this specialized field, with world-class learning institutes and infrastructure, and some of Canada’s most brilliant scientific minds attracting the attention of international health and life sciences organizations.
Prestigious health science companies and organizations from around the world have their eyes on Edmonton as our specialized scientists and researchers undertake trailblazing studies in the sphere of metabolomics – an emerging field that can be applied to everything from disease diagnostics to nutrition and pharmaceuticals.
Anna Look, Director, Business Events, Explore Edmonton
“More and more life sciences organizations are choosing Edmonton as the ideal host city for their business meetings and conferences, connecting with our local thought-leaders and educational institutions to enrich their events and increase delegate engagement.”
Collaboration for accelerated growth
Edmonton is home to The Metabolomics Innovation Centre (TMIC), the only national metabolomics platform in Canada, providing cutting-edge metabolomic studies for clinical trials, biomedical studies, bioproduct studies, nutrient profiling and environmental testing.
“As a core facility rooted in universities across Canada, TMIC offers the best of both academia and industry,” says TMIC Co-Director, Dr. David Wishart. “Our experts are at the forefront of metabolomics research and are continually expanding and optimizing services and technologies.”
TMIC has access to more than $26 million in state-of-the-art metabolomics infrastructure, supported by a team of lab managers, spectroscopists, chemists, computer scientists, statisticians and bioinformaticians.
“We are North America’s premiere single-source destination providing fee-for-service metabolic profiling, offering a broad range of custom metabolomics to fill any need,” says Wishart.
In addition to driving significant advancements in metabolomics, TMIC facilitates the growth and expansion of local innovative startups.
Burgeoning startup, DrugBank, began as a project in Dr. Wishart’s bioinformatics lab at the University of Alberta in 2006. It became part of the TMIC five years later before being spun out into an independent company at the end of 2015. A one-stop shop for curated and proprietary data on more than 20,000 drugs, DrugBank is now used by healthtech, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies around the world. Today, DrugBank is one of Edmonton’s fastest-growing startups.
“What began as a project to help researchers obtain detailed information about drugs has grown to become the world’s largest pharmaceutical knowledge database with customers in 24 countries, including scientists and pharmaceutical companies that are repurposing drugs or developing new ones,” says DrugBank CEO, Michael Wilson.
“DrugBank’s affiliation with TMIC reflects the spirit of community that thrives within our vibrant life sciences sector. Knowledge sharing and practical support exchanged between academics, scientific research institutes, incubators and emerging entrepreneurs allows this exciting industry to thrive and expand.”
A hotbed for life sciences academia
A world leader in health and innovation, it’s no coincidence that 60 percent of all Alberta life sciences businesses are based in Edmonton. Home to the University of Alberta (U of A), renowned for cultivating some of the country’s brightest scientific researchers, life sciences companies can leverage the incredible talent pool to enhance their businesses.
“Seven post-secondary institutions are based in Edmonton, including more than 130,000 students,” says Look. “Major corporations in the life sciences industry are choosing to set up shop in Edmonton in order to work with the brilliant minds who live here.”
Edmonton gained international notoriety for the work being done to fuel research, not just in the ‘omics’, but also biotech, medtech, medical devices and pharmaceuticals.
“The U of A’s academic health science sector is a big part of Edmonton’s innovation ecosystem and is internationally regarded for its ground-breaking medical research,” says Look.
Organizations and businesses who choose to hold their meetings and conferences in Edmonton can take advantage of the local connections offered by the Explore Edmonton Business Events Team to create events that are not only informative, but truly inspirational.
“Our professional relationships with the thought leaders of our life sciences sector afford us the ability to provide the introductions, technical tours and limited access entry to research labs, health accelerators and simulation centers for truly unforgettable events and conferences,” says Look.
More festivals than weekends
Visitors to Edmonton are greeted by vast prairie skies and a welcoming community whose passion for this beautiful river city is contagious.
“Residents of Edmonton are a lively bunch who love to take advantage of the city’s vibrant urban culture – and that includes more festivals than there are weekends!” says Look.
With over 12,000 rooms in many hotels and conference centres, Edmonton is adept at hosting esteemed conferences, such as the SingularityU Canada Summit in 2019, which profiled the growing tech sectors of health, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and energy.
“A great conference is more than simply meaningful workshops and seminars,” says Look. “Here in Edmonton, event delegates can immerse themselves in endless outdoor pursuits, from hiking, cycling and canoeing the lakes, to cross country skiing during winter.”
Event delegates for larger events can make the most of the Show Your Badge program, a complimentary transit pass providing delegates with free transportation on Edmonton’s city network of buses and light rail links, to encourage the exploration of this diverse urban center.
“Edmonton has more green space than any other North American city, with an abundance of outdoor adventures that are ideal for team bonding or simply relaxing after a day of conferencing,” says Look.
Meetings with purpose
By enriching programming with industry innovators and meaningful localized tours, business event organizers can attract more delegates, increase revenues, and inspire future generations.
“We call that 'meeting with purpose’,” says Look, pointing out that when the time is right for in-person events to resume, Edmonton is poised to show off its expansive life sciences ecosystem.