Montréal’s edge in the life sciences sector

published on July 20, 2023
Trends and Technology What's New in Montréal Montréal Partners

Montréal is one of the east coast’s leading and most influential life sciences centres. It ranks first in Canada for R&D investments and research centres in the life sciences and is a major economic force, representing 79% of Québec’s and 20% of Canada’s GDP. The excellence of our university research departments and pharmaceutical companies has been recognized around the world — but what else makes the life sciences and health technology sector one of our best?

Areas of excellence

Montréal’s leading LSHT disciplines include the neurosciences, cardiology, oncology and metabolic diseases. The city also stands out in biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, medical technologies, digital health, artificial intelligence, contract research organisations (CROs) and contract manufacturing organisations (CMOs).

Montréal’s is a unique life sciences ecosystem — one that can support all stages of product development, from research to marketing. Pfizer, Novartis Pharma, Abbvie and Merck are just some of the world’s most influential life sciences companies that have their Canadian headquarters here.

As Montréal emerges as a world centre of excellence in artificial intelligence, as well, our LSHT sector is keeping pace. Examples of crossover include Imagia, a firm that uses AI to facilitate access to personalized care for cancer patients and the TransMedTech Institute, a living lab which supports the accelerated development of next-generation medical technologies.

A unique life sciences ecosystem

One of the main reasons Montréal thrives in the life sciences and health technology sector is because of effective collaboration among key stakeholders. Mobilizing the industry is an organization called Montréal InVivo: a non-profit industrial cluster — comprised of more than 620 organizations, 11 post-secondary institutions and 41,000 skilled workers — that’s a catalyst for innovation in areas of research ranging from cancer to ageing to genomics.

InVivo is more relevant than ever. While this sector has grown immensely over the past decade, the pandemic years have been critical for LSHT, especially in the media. More than ever we’ve collectively understood the importance of research and development. Manufacturing capacity (such as vaccines) and therapeutic treatments (such as ventilators) also came to the forefront of our discussions as a society.

The draw of Montréal

InVivo advocates for the LSHT sector in Montréal by helping to attract top talent. The allure of the city is attributed to a variety of factors, ranging from lifestyle and affordability to the plenitude of eminent Montréal researchers. Montréal boasts five universities and 36 programs, with more than 10,000 university students graduating from a life science program each year. Our life sciences sector employs over 44,000 people, of which 12,000 are researchers and professionals working in 300 public and parapublic research centres.

But it’s not just the talent, it’s also the economic advantages of the city. Montréal offers the most competitive operating costs among the 20 largest cities in Canada and the United States. Many companies qualify for tax credits.

See the entrepreneurial spotlight video series that Montréal lnVivo developed, featuring LSHT successes in the region.

The country’s leading research hub   

Life sciences professionals from around the world find fertile ground in Montréal. The city has developed an innovative approach to collaboration between companies, research centres and public institutions to make it one of the world’s largest life sciences hubs. Recognized research centres include:  

  • Le Centre de recherche du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CRCHUM)  
  • The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI-MUHC)  
  • The CHU SAINTE-JUSTINE Mother and child university hospital center  
  • The Montréal Neurological Institute and Hospital (McGill University)  
  • The Montréal Heart Institute (Université de Montréal)  

The University of Montréal hospital research centre (CRCHUM) is one of the largest hospital-based research centres in North America and an international reference for academic medicine and research.

Some major Montréal LSHT events

  • 29th Annual Meeting for the Organization for Human Brain Mapping – 2023. Attendance: 2,500
  • 2023 Congress of the International Council of Nurses. Attendance: 6,000
  • American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine 2023 Annual Assembly. Attendance: 4,000
  • Society of American Gastrointestinal and Endoscopic Surgeons 2023 Postgraduate Course & Scientific Session. Attendance: 2,000
  • 2023 International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis Annual Conference. Attendance: 8,000
  • 17th International Congress on Radiation Research – ICRR 2023. Attendance: 1,500
  • 2023 World Congress of Neurology. Attendance: 8,000
  • Family Medicine Forum 2023. Attendance: 5,000


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