Each month, the team at Switchboard (an Earnscliffe Strategies company) connects the dots between the trends, headlines and narratives informing the B.C. tech sector.
For May’s Connecting The Dots, the Switchboard team discusses recent announcement from Minister François-Philippe Champagne’s visit to B.C., breaks down the recent Conversations Live with Stuart McNish panel on the topic of Life Sciences – BC’s Innovation Future, and shines a spotlight on Canada’s first All-Electric Class 7 Box Truck.
7Gen unveils the first all-electric class 7 Peterbilt 220EV box truck in Canada
The Long: This deployment is a significant milestone for 7Gen as it aligns with their mission to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainable transportation solutions. The all-electric Peterbilt 220EV box truck is an environmentally friendly alternative to traditional diesel-powered trucks and provides a sustainable option for last mile delivery. The truck is fitted with a 24ft box and is great for deliveries in the downtown core because of its narrow turning circle and tight form factor.
“We are proud of this milestone that aligns with our core business model of breaking through barriers and making EVs a preferred choice over combustion engine alternatives, by getting our client this first all-electric class 7 box truck in Canada,” said 7Gen’s CEO, Frans Tjallingii. “Our clients see value in our lease-to-own offer because it simplifies the otherwise complex transition to EVs and allows them to gain expertise without having to build as much internal capacity.”
With offices in Vancouver and Montreal, 7Gen is focused on helping urban short haul transportation companies get to zero emissions at a fast pace. They provide procurement and deployment services from a customer perspective and work to provide the significant capital required to finance these fast-growing companies.
GoBolt, a technology company on a mission to build the world’s largest sustainable, vertically integrated supply chain network, has been a significant client to 7Gen and has made big waves with its groundbreaking work toward increasing zero-emission transportation.
“As a company, we are on track to provide carbon-neutral deliveries by the end of 2023,” said GoBolt’s Co-Founder and CEO, Mark Ang. “Sustainability isn’t achieved by one company’s efforts alone and it’s not without its challenges. It takes working and partnering with like-minded businesses to move the needle, especially when it comes to embracing new technologies like the Peterbilt 220EV. We’re thrilled to partner with 7Gen, share our learnings and build a roadmap for the logistics industry to follow.”
Life Sciences – BC’s Innovation Future: A Recap
The Short: Conversations Live with Stuart McNish is a monthly forum addressing the big topics of our times. The micro-conferences feature panels of experts with extensive experience. This month, Stuart was joined by panelists Andrew Booth, Allen Eaves, the Honourable Brenda Bailey, Darryl Knight, Wendy Hurlburt, and Suzanne Gill to discuss the topic of Life Sciences – BC’s Innovation Future.
The Long: Life Sciences and Biopharma have the potential to be a key element of British Columbia’s future. The promise of a potential homegrown pharmaceutical industry focusing on antibody drugs and next-generation medicine customers is extremely promising; the combined expansion plans of AbCellera and Stemcell alone amount to over a billion dollars, highlighting the growth potential of this sector.
To nurture the sector, private enterprises, human ingenuity, education, and all levels of government must come together to support and scale the industry. Overcoming obstacles to scaling may be one of the biggest challenges. Currently, there are over 1200 companies in the life sciences sector in BC, employing over 18,000 people. However, most of these companies are relatively small, employing 50 or fewer people. In comparison, in Ireland, most companies in the sector employ about 1000 people per company. The life sciences sector in BC generates about $5.4 billion in revenue, while in Ireland, the sector generates a whopping $189 billion CAD.
The life sciences sector in B.C. is growing, but it is still growing under the radar. To fully realize the potential of this sector, it is crucial to support and scale it through collaboration between private enterprises, education, and all levels of government. The future of British Columbia could be significantly shaped by the success of the Life Sciences and Biopharma industries. Watch the full recording of the event here.
The federal and provincial governments collaborate to fuel Canada’s innovation engine
The Short: The Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada came together with two announcements the week of May 22nd – 26th, one with AbCellera and one with Lululemon. Furthermore, The Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, François-Philippe Champagne, highlighted renewed funding for the Digital Technology Cluster while visiting Ideon Technologies.
The Long: The $701 million project aims to develop Canadian-owned and developed treatments for areas of unmet medical needs. AbCellera, a therapeutic antibody discovery and development engine, is set to receive $300 million in funding, with the Province of B.C. contributing $75 million and the Government of Canada providing $225 million. This highlights the growing importance of the life sciences sector in Canada and the potential for significant medical breakthroughs. The project will see AbCellera build a new biotech campus in Vancouver, including a preclinical development facility and upgrades to existing facilities, creating over 400 highly skilled jobs and new training opportunities in life sciences and biomanufacturing. The project will also enable Canadian-owned and developed treatments in areas such as oncology and autoimmune diseases to be developed and trialed in B.C., benefiting patients in B.C. and across the country. It also builds the capability needed to conduct Phase 1 clinical trials in the province.
According to Carl Hansen, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of AbCellera, “This project, and the commitment to co-invest alongside the governments of Canada and British Columbia, is a major step toward building the capabilities in Canada to translate scientific breakthroughs into new medicines that will benefit patients here and around the world,”.
AbCellera, which emerged from the University of British Columbia in 2012, now employs over 500 employees across its locations in Vancouver, Boston, Sydney, and Cambridge.
The expansion of Lululemon’s global headquarters in its hometown promises to significantly boost British Columbia’s prosperity. With its British Columbia origins, Lululemon has employed and continues to employ thousands of Canadians, while bringing people with unique skill sets from abroad to the province, fuelling Canada’s innovation engine.
This expansion project will benefit from the collaboration of the federal and provincial governments after being recognized as a significant investment project under the Canada-British Columbia Immigration Agreement. This recognition allows the company to further welcome international talent in a variety of high-skilled occupations. Lululemon’s expansion, including the growth of its store support centres and global training centres, will create significant employment growth and knowledge transfer over the next several years, fast-tracking the benefits the project will have for British Columbia and the rest of Canada.
“We applaud lululemon’s decision to significantly expand their global headquarters in Vancouver. Lululemon’s continued success serves as a testament to Vancouver’s status as a global hub for creativity and innovation. This announcement marks an exciting step forward for our city’s economic future, and we look forward to seeing the positive impact for years to come,” commented Ken Sim, Mayor of Vancouver.
The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, recently met with representatives of Ideon Technologies Inc. in Richmond, British Columbia, to discuss their efforts in accelerating the transition to low-impact mining. One project they discussed was the Earth X-ray for Low-Impact Mining, which uses advanced technologies to reduce the environmental impact of mining activities.
During the meeting, Minister Champagne also congratulated the Digital Technology Cluster on its renewed funding, which brings the total Government of Canada funding to up to $298 million. This reinvestment will help Canadian industry build digital technologies that will continue to make Canada a global leader in clean, healthy economic growth and support the growth and scale-up of Canadian companies.
The Global Innovation Clusters program, which supports the Digital Technology Cluster, aims to build strong ecosystems in industries where Canada leads and has a competitive advantage. The clusters bring together experts in their respective fields to create high-quality, well-paying jobs, invest in promising projects, and position Canada as a global leader in innovation.
The Earth X-ray for Low-Impact Mining project is an excellent example of how the Digital Technology Cluster is expanding its global presence, greening the economy, building more resilient supply chains, and supporting the growth of Canadian companies. The project recently won a Governor General’s Innovation Award for its discovery platform that targets deposits with greater precision and creates environmentally responsible mineral supply to fuel the clean energy transition.