< Browse more articles

The future is bright for Markham's life sciences industry. As one of the four strategically targeted business segments, the city has made moves to become a Canadian centre for industry innovators and collaborators from all corners of the globe. As a result, Markham's life sciences sector has doubled its activity in the last seven years alone and given rise to over 1,000 high tech and life sciences companies, employing 39,000 professionals throughout the region.

“With such well known multinational companies as Johnson and Johnson, Astellas, Toshiba, and TEVA, and a robust and growing presence of innovative small to medium companies, Markham is becoming a hub for life sciences activity in Canada,” said Stephen Chait, Director of Culture and Economic Development, City of Markham. 

No doubt, rising demand, breakthrough technologies, and a prospering knowledge-based workforce have made Markham an alluring home base for life sciences leaders. And over the past several years, there have been many to answer the call. 

NP Screen, for one, made headlines for introducing a new cancer-detecting technology designed to detect the presence of cancerous cells in the nasopharynx in cases where there is no evidence of a visible tumour while InnoMind Technology turned heads for revealing portable ultrasound technology that puts diagnostic ultrasound tool into the hands of caregivers and emergency first responders in remote areas.

This appetite for innovation is also on display in Markham-based companies like MedChart, which recently released its automated acquisition process to provide a seamless and hassle-free way for patients to obtain medical records from their healthcare providers through the company's proprietary online portal. Elsewhere, Pharmaceutical Innovation Ltd. is doing its part to enhance the healthcare experience through advances like its Intelechip technology, for providing verbal drug descriptions in the language of the user; Health Espresso, a Bluetooth-enabled app that serves as a virtual caregiver; the InteleMed Zone secure online portal for emergency personnel and physicians; and its newest line of senior-friendly and child-resistant medical vials.

“With each new product we bring to life, our mandate is to empower patients to understand, manage, and track their medication and consume them properly,” said Tamer Mikhail, founder and CEO in an interview with Markham Thrives.

Markham's life sciences community is also eager to collaborate. This fall, the non-profit innovation centre ventureLAB and the national health care provider and non-profit organization Saint Elizabeth announced plans to leverage their existing relationships to develop a connected cluster of healthcare innovators and developers within York Region/GTA.

All combined, this activity has drawn attention from industry players across the globe. In one example, India's RAD365 healthcare services company revealed plans in late 2016 to establish a new R&D hub in Markham where it will work with local hospitals and caregivers to develop sensor-based data collection and predictive modelling.  

Denmark-based LEO Pharma also selected Markham to host its first North American innovation lab. Opened in January 2016, the aptly named LEO Innovation Lab was set up to explore partnerships with startups and support the development of innovations in apps, digital platforms, artificial intelligence, wearables, virtual reality, and other advanced, non-pharmaceutical solutions for people living with psoriasis.

“LEO Pharma has been developing pharmaceutical products since 1908, and now we’re turning to

the digital space and the startup community to help us hack new and creative solutions to help people better manage and deal with their condition,” said Miron Derchansky, head of the LEO Innovation Lab, during the landmark facility's launch.

These are just a handful of success stories from Markham's life sciences industry. Certainly, one need only look to the sector's exponential growth and growing global reputation for proof of the city's commitment to becoming one of Canada's largest life sciences destinations.

“The life sciences industry is a key source of innovation, commercialization and high quality employment in Markham. Our significant growth in this sector is due in part to our connected ecosystem of large and small companies, universities and colleges, hospitals, support organizations such as ventureLAB, and our skilled and diverse pool of talent,” said Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti.

Markham Logo